U2’s The Unforgettable Fire

Posted: October 1, 2014 in Albums, Alternative, Rock
Tags: , , ,

U2’s The Unforgettable Fire was released 30 years ago today. The album was very important to me growing up, and still continues to resonate with me. Although Boy might be my favorite album from the group, The Unforgettable Fire is a close second. I have to admit, I don’t listen to much of U2’s post ‘80s music. When I do add them to playlists, it’s mostly material from their first four albums (“Gloria” currently being the song of choice). To some degree, they were my favorite band during this time. In retrospect, my appreciation of their earlier work has waned but at one time they were my rock & roll heroes.

Partially recorded in Slane Castle in Ireland, The Unforgettable Fire is U2’s fourth album. It was a big change from the previous War, with its militaristic sound and pulsating guitar. Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois were brought in to produce the album (after the mutual parting with Steve Lillywhite), ushering in a more atmospheric and experimental sound. The whole second side of the album has a dreamlike quality that flowed like no other previous recording. The biggest hit off the album, “Pride (In the Name of Love),” is the only song that sounds like a traditional U2 song. It peaked at #3 in the UK, and reached #33 on the US charts.

The lead song off the album, “A Sort of Homecoming,” shows how much their sound had changed. Instead of the hard drumming sound of War, it has a soaring, rhythmic quality with a toned down guitar. Although not on the video clip below, the album version has Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders on backup vocals. She also sings backup for other songs on the album but is credited as Christine Kerr, having been married to Jim Kerr of Simple Minds at the time.

 

“The Unforgettable Fire” is the most orchestrated single off the album. Back in the mid-eighties, MTV started showing world premiere videos and this was one of them. I remember eagerly anticipating getting my first glimpse.

 

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