Achtung Baby

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Template:Album infobox

Achtung Baby is an album by Irish rock band U2, released on November 19, 1991 (see 1991 in music). The album was released two years after lead vocalist Bono announced the band would have to "go away and dream it all up again," following the mixed reception of 1989's Rattle and Hum.

One of U2's best-selling and most critically acclaimed albums, Achtung Baby was a vast departure for the band, adding more European than American influences, especially the avant-garde theatrics of David Bowie and other artists. It sampled techniques and sounds from other musical genres previously unused by the band, including Dance, House and Electronica, whilst maintaining their original feel of rock and roll. The album's new sound was a source of conflict in the band because The Edge and Bono favored the new sounds they were coming up with, while drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. and bassist Adam Clayton were partial to the band's traditional sound. The fighting subdued slightly after Edge arrived at the studio with the guitar riff to "One," a stirring song that is speculated to be about a son confessing to his father that he is HIV positive.

The album was darker sounding than previous efforts, thanks in large part to the songs "Acrobat" and "Love Is Blindness." Lead singer Bono described the album as "the sound of four men chopping down The Joshua Tree."

Contents

Track listing

  1. "Zoo Station" (4:36)
  2. "Even Better Than the Real Thing" (3:41)
  3. "One" (4:36)
  4. "Until the End of the World" (4:39)
  5. "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" (5:16)
  6. "So Cruel" (5:49)
  7. "The Fly" (4:29)
  8. "Mysterious Ways" (4:04)
  9. "Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around the World" (3:53)
  10. "Ultra Violet (Light My Way)" (5:31)
  11. "Acrobat" (4:30)
  12. "Love Is Blindness" (4:23)

Music by U2, words by Bono and the Edge.

Produced by Daniel Lanois with Brian Eno.

"The Fly," "Mysterious Ways," "One," "Even Better Than the Real Thing," and "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" were released as singles.

Personnel

Accolades

On the Billboard Music Charts (North America), Achtung Baby topped the Billboard 200 chart. It won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

In 1998 Q magazine readers voted Achtung Baby the 15th greatest album of all time; in 2003 the TV network VH1 placed it at number 65. Also in 2003, Q declared its third track, "One", "the greatest recorded song of all time".

Charting singles

1991   The Fly                             The Billboard Hot 100           No. 61
1991   Mysterious Ways                     Mainstream Rock Tracks          No. 1
1991   The Fly                             Mainstream Rock Tracks          No. 2
1991   Mysterious Ways                     Modern Rock Tracks              No. 1
1991   The Fly                             Modern Rock Tracks              No. 1
1991   The Fly                             Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales  No. 44
1992   One                                 Adult Contemporary              No. 24
1992   Even Better Than The Real Thing     The Billboard Hot 100           No. 32
1992   Mysterious Ways                     The Billboard Hot 100           No. 9
1992   One                                 The Billboard Hot 100           No. 10
1992   Who s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses   The Billboard Hot 100           No. 35
1992   Even Better Than The Real Thing     Mainstream Rock Tracks          No. 1
1992   One                                 Mainstream Rock Tracks          No. 1
1992   Until The End Of The World          Mainstream Rock Tracks          No. 5
1992   Who s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses   Mainstream Rock Tracks          No. 2
1992   Even Better Than The Real Thing     Modern Rock Tracks              No. 5
1992   One                                 Modern Rock Tracks              No. 1
1992   Until The End Of The World          Modern Rock Tracks              No. 4
1992   Who s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses   Modern Rock Tracks              No. 7
1992   Who s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses   Top 40 Mainstream               No. 28
1992   Even Better Than The Real Thing     Hot Dance Music/Club Play       No. 27
1992   Mysterious Ways                     Hot Dance Music/Club Play       No. 42
1992   Even Better Than the Real Thing     Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales  No. 35
1992   Mysterious Ways                     Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales  No. 29
1992   One                                 Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales  No. 44
1997   One                                 Canadian Singles Chart          No. 19

Studio bootlegs

U2 entered the studio in late 1990 and began recording the album before they had written any material, mainly improvising and developing ideas into songs. The more interesting ideas were preserved on working tapes. In April 1991, these tapes fell into the hands of bootleggers, well before the album's November release date. The most widely circulated compilation of these tapes is the three-disc Salom: The Axtung Beibi Outtakes, released in February 1992.

Since these songs were leaked very early in the production process, they provide a rare insight into the band's songwriting process. On the same note, many of the ideas--including eight different takes of the song "Salom"--were frustratingly undeveloped, so the bootleg remains a curiosity strictly for hardcore fans. "There were no undiscovered works of genius, unfortunately, it was more just gobbledy-gook." --Bono [1] (http://lyrics.interference.com/u2/lyrics/rarities/salome/info.html)

Some of the ideas were revisited--there are, for instance, early instrumental versions of "Even Better Than the Real Thing" and "North and South of the River" (the latter of which wouldn't be recorded by the band until 1997)--and one song--the B-side "Where Did It All Go Wrong?"--was even released as a rough composite of the two takes available on the bootleg. There are also a handful of developed ideas that were wholly abandoned, such as "She's Gonna Blow Your House Down," a song the group had been working on since the Rattle and Hum days.

ZooTV Tour

The album was supported by an elaborate worldwide arena and stadium tour, ZooTV. The tour was a straight-faced satire on the media overload that came to define the nineties. The stage was covered in television sets which flashed seemingly random images and slogans.

Bono adopted two personas, the Fly and Mirror Ball Man; the former was a stereotypical rock star with wrap-around shades and exaggerated, blatantly sexual mannerisms, and the latter was a parody of televangelists. Mirror Ball Man was replaced with a third personality--Mr. MacPhisto, an amalgam of the devil and Elvis Presley--for the European legs of the tour.

The tour also demonstrated immense confidence in the new album, opening with usually six to eight consecutive new songs before playing any old material.

See also

External links

  • Discography entry at U2 Wanderer (http://www.u2wanderer.org/disco/alb008.html)--Comprehensive details on various editions, cover scans, lyrics, and more.
  • Album lyrics (http://u2-lyrics.org/achtung_baby/)--Searchable album lyrics.
  • U2 tours overview at U2-Vertigo-Tour.com (http://www.u2-vertigo-tour.com/all-u2-tours.html)--Includes setlists for every date on the ZooTV Tour.
  • Quotes and information (http://www.geocities.com/cirrusminor9/html/abinfo.htm)--Detailed background on each song.
  • Salom Outtakes liner notes (http://rpgd.emulationworld.com/ballz/tracklist/salome.htm)--The liner notes that came with the bootleg. Includes song descriptions and some approximated lyrics.
  • U2MoL (http://hem.bredband.net/steverud/U2MoL/)--Contains fan interpretations and interview excerpts for each song.hu:Achtung Baby

ja:アクトン・ベイビー pl:Achtung Baby

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