Wednesday, July 3, 2013


U2 quickly recorded the experimental dance grooves and ambient art rock textures of this technocratic concept album during a break on their ZooTV world tour.  With the massive critical and commercial success of 'Achtung Baby'the band launched an ambitious world tour that featured multi-media satire that sought to illustrate the sensory overload of our consumerist culture.  When the first leg of the tour ended in late November of 1992, the band decided to record an EP. 

Bono describes the spirit with which the band started the sessions:   "We thought we could live a normal life and then go back on the road. But it turns out that your whole way of thinking, your whole body has been geared toward the madness of Zoo TV... So we decided to put the madness on a record. Everybody's head was spinning, so we thought, why not keep that momentum going...?"

Edge elaborates:  "We've got a bit of time off. We've got some ideas hanging around from the last record, let's do an EP, maybe four new songs to spice the next phase of the tour up a bit. It'll be a fan thing. It'll be cool...Some of the ideas we started out with on 'Achtung Baby' started to come into focus on the tour as we played around with the new stage set, the TV screens, the whole concept of a TV station on the road. We found out what it could do and then we started playing around with the imagery and the ideas that were in the airstream, gleaned from the world of advertising, CNN, MTV and so on. It struck a chord in us and the music that came out on 'Zooropa' was very influenced by the tour. Normally it's the other way around; you put an album together and then you go off on the road and you're drawing from the album for your inspiration."

Mullen recalls the whirlwind of activity:  "The show would finish at eleven.  As soon as we left the stage it was straight down into the cars, straigh to the airport, take off. Because the shows were in Europe, normally they were an hour or two ahead, so we'd arrive back in Ireland about midnight, go straight into the studio, do a couple of hours work, go home, go to bed. There were often a couple of days between shows, so we'd go into the studio in the afternoon, work into the night, get up the next day, head to the airport and fly to the next city. There was a month of that. It was mad, but it was mad good as opposed to mad bad."

Clayton considers:    "After being on the road for a year we wanted something a bit quieter...It occured to me...look at the history of the band and then the 'Zooropa' album... and looking at the history of The Beatles, and everything they'd done and learned, and then suddenly...'Sergeant Pepper', which redefined the whole ballgame, and produced a different language, a different sound. And I think 'Zooropa' achieves a new language for Bono to use - a language that's more his own, that he feels more comfortable with...And musically, I think, we've defined, or found, a sound that we're entitled to use...It's a record deep with mystery for me."  

Edge says:   "We were very inspired by what was happening in dance music and hip-hop. Technology has always been a very important dynamic in pushing music forward. You can point to almost every important developments in music and see a technology that went with it. The fuzzbox launched rock and roll into the '60s.   So for us, it seemed perfectly natural to be up to speed with the state-of-the-art technology happening in the dance culture. In that blend, we hoped we could hold on to the essence of what U2 is about. That's been, at times, a fine line you draw ... We don't worry about borrowing things from other groups. On the other hand, as soon as we notice that we are back to the U2 sound, we stop everything...It's also at the point that when people say to us that we can't do this or that because we're U2, that makes us want to do it even more. Because we think that the spirit of the group is so strong that it can use any style and still be U2. From the past and what's being done today we are trying to build a future. William Burroughs said I think, 'You cut up the past to find the future'. We're at exactly that point at the moment: if we keep our interest awake our music will be alive. Whereas if you're too sure of what you're doing, you come to a dead end...We had pieces which might give birth to songs, but which have lost their interest through familiarity: too structured. Musically, we tend not to give in to logic any more. Mystery gives the tempo, the emotion and the setting."

Bono muses:    "People have lost all confidence in images. Same thing in music. The polish of over-produced work ends up as smooth and glossy surface. That's why a large part of this album is improvised. It's just the four members of the group shut in a room playing together taking risks for six weeks...It's easy to be complacent with oneself about this idea but I think that when you know what you're doing, everything else must be swept away. It's difficult to experience, but we struggle on. You always want to keep your hands on the wheel, you don't want God to drive. Yet all the best U2 songs have been written by accident. And all the worst have been written by us...We are coming to a really interesting time in music where it seems as though classic guitar-based rock is short of ideas. For five years we've heard that rock is dead. We've never really thought of ourselves as a rock group but one feels that there are so many uncertainties that in fact anything is possible. One of the main interests in music is combining everything which has become part of the everyday background like TV programmes or cinema. Anything could happen in music today and that's what we're trying to do. We're living in a kind of transformation where video games sell more than records, and where audiovisual formats are taking precedence over music. Most showbiz people are shit scared. We find it stimulating. With the Zoo TV Tour we are getting near this point of transformation, and this overload of images you refer to is precisely the language of Zoo TV. Richard Kearney, an Irish philosopher, deals with the death of images in his book ('The Awakening of the Imagination'). A theme which you got close to in Until The End of The World. The idea that images are manipulated to the point where our perception of reality has taken a knock."

Twenty songs were recorded during the six weeks, from which they chose ten for 'Zooropa' which features Bono on vocals and guitar; Adam Clayton on bass guitar; The Edge on guitar, piano, synthesisers, and vocals; and Larry Mullen, Jr. on drums, percussion, and backing vocals;  with Brian Eno on synthesisers, piano, arcade sounds, backing vocals, loops, strings, and harmonium; Des Broadbery and Flood on loops; and Johnny Cash as a featured lead vocalist.     The sessions took place at three Dublin studios (The Factory, Windmill Lane Studios, and Westland Studios) and were produced by Flood, Brian Eno, and The Edge; with mixing and engineering by Flood and Robbie Adams. 

'Zooropa' was a worldwide success, going to number three in Norway; two in Finland; and number one in Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the US.  The album sold over seven million copies worldwide and went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album.


"Stay (Faraway, So Close!)"  

full album:

All music composed by U2.

1. "Zooropa"   Bono Flood 6:31
2. "Babyface"   Bono Flood 4:01
3. "Numb"   The Edge Robbie Adams 4:20
4. "Lemon"   Bono Flood 6:58
5. "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)"   Bono Flood 4:58
6. "Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car"   Bono Flood 5:20
7. "Some Days Are Better Than Others"   Bono Robbie Adams 4:17
8. "The First Time"   Bono Flood 3:45
9. "Dirty Day"   Bono and The Edge Robbie Adams 5:24
10. "The Wanderer" (featuring Johnny Cash) Bono Flood, Robbie Adams 5:41

Total length:   51:15

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