Achtung Baby Was Nearly The End For U2

10/26/2011
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(Gibson) U2's Achtung Baby is now acclaimed as U2's finest achievement, but the 1991 album nearly didn't get made. In fact, its beginnings nearly split the Irish band apart.

By the turn of the '90s, U2 were at a crossroads. They were a major stadium act, but creatively they were faltering. The band had been stung by media criticism of their half studio/half live double album Rattle and Hum. That "toying" with Americana certainly delivered some hits ("Angel Of Harlem," the Bo Diddley-esque "Desire," the B.B. King duet "When Love Comes to Town") but many found the album too much of a pastiche. U2 suddenly became the most loved/hated rock band on the planet. What to do? As Bono told a Dublin crowd in the late '80s: "We have to go away and dream it all up again."

As guitarist The Edge later reflected, the "traditionalism" of Rattle and Hum was the exception in the U2 canon. "My view," he told this author in 1996 "is that Rattle and Hum, for all its traditionalism, is actually our "experimental" record. Achtung Baby got us back to our normality making dark, very European music with experimental sounds." Famously, U2 decided to impose new rules for Achtung Baby, the band's rebirth. more on this story

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