“Medium, Rare, & Remastered” Gems from U2

(I’m totally cheating with this post and embedding a whole playlist instead of just one song.)

Yes, I’ll admit it. At one point in time (like my freshman/sophomore year of college), I was so into U2 that I paid a certain sum of money to become a member of their official “fan club”. I mainly did it for the priority access to purchase tickets for their 360 Tour, but also because it came with this sweet 2-disc set of b-sides and alternate versions of songs from throughout their career (a fan club exclusive!).

There are quite a few gems to be found here, none more so (in my opinion) than “Xanax and Wine” — an upbeat, high-flying power anthem with a rather depressing subject. The song seems to describe a rather delusional man bursting with unrequited love, who fuels his own psychosis by ingesting the combination of—you guessed it—the titular Xanax and wine. But the gritty rock-and-roll guitar lick that permeates the song is one of Edge’s absolute best, and Bono’s brilliant vocals perfectly convey the main character’s state of drug-induced mania before breaking down in stupor at the song’s ending. This song was recorded during sessions for the album “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb”, and I’m not sure why it ended up getting cut. It would have been a perfect companion to “Vertigo”, to really kick the album off with a shot of adrenaline.

Another thing that makes this collection great is that so many of the songs are familiar, in the form of early versions of now-quintessential U2 singles that didn’t quite cut it.  “Always” is a working version of “Beautiful Day”, with an equally riveting chorus. “Native Son” is “Vertigo” with reimagined lyrics. Alternate versions of “All Because of You” and “Yahweh” made it to the compilation as well. To me, it’s very revealing to hear these versions of U2 songs and then think about what went into reinventing them as the songs that are now so popular. It’s a peek into the process of how a song can grow and evolve from its original threads into a world-renowned, smash hit single.

One last song worth mentioning is “Jesus Christ”… This approximates what U2 would sound like as a gospel choir. It’s utterly infectious and highly entertaining. But, just to warn you, if you do listen to it, the repeated “Hallelujahs” will be stuck in your head, pretty much forever. Amen!


~ by Marcus on 02/13/2012.

Come at me, bro.

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