INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Globe And Mail FEBRUARY 23, 2009 - by Brad Wheeler
U2'S LATEST, TRACK BY TRACK
"Josephine, be careful of small men with big ideas," cautions rock's wee statesman-superstar, Napoleon Bono Heart. The line comes from a funky new U2 song called Stand Up Comedy, which pokes fun self-deprecatingly, but is no joke. "Stand up for faith, hope, love," implores Bono, a spirit-rallying sloganeer on U2's long-in-the-making twelfth album No Line On The Horizon, officially due out on March 3 in North America, but now leaking all over the Internet. Lyrical themes of love, epiphanies and the power of sound abound on a sonically expansive disc hampered by occasionally clunky wordplay. The recording was a deliberate process, beginning with failed 2006 sessions with producer Rick Rubin - too song-oriented, and not enough atmosphere - and proceeding a year later with cohorts Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, and, later, for remixing touches, with Steve Lillywhite. Here's what they came up with, track by track:
No Line on the Horizon - A tense, two-chord intro, with a Joshua Tree-like ambience, but leaner and meaner.
Magnificent - Trippy electronica mixes with older, anthemic U2, a Dublin band whose early fire was unforgettable.
Moment Of Surrender - Billed as this album's One, a body is disconnected from its soul on a churchy, seven-minute-plus number with liquid-silver pedal steel from Lanois.
Unknown Caller - Edge does his chiming guitar thing; a great Bowie-esque chorus urges "shout for joy, if you get the chance." It's about fresh starts.
I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight - A pop tune.
Get On Your Boots - The hard-charging single - everybody (plus an Abe Lincoln statue) has heard it already.
Stand Up Comedy - U2 at its most Lenny Kravitzian.
Fez - Being Born - Originally titled Tripoli, it's not so much a song as an amnio-dream groove. Bono says it's about a Moroccan French motorcycle cop going AWOL.
White As Snow - A poignant folk ballad about a soldier in the winter of Afghanistan, which will be heard in Jim Sheridan's upcoming film Brothers.
Breathe - A bold rocker, with stream-of-consciousness lyrics. Wait for the Leonard Cohen moment: "I found grace inside a sound."
Cedars Of Lebanon - The character-driven, sombre spoken-word finale in which a worn-out war correspondent fights tight deadlines and disillusionment.