The first and certainly not last induction for U2 into the Scooter Hall of Fame is the album that really turned me into a fan, Achtung Baby. I was fairly young when The Joshua Tree came out so my attention span for music was pretty small and that album was pretty much out of my mind as we went into the nineties. I wasn’t really sold on Achtung Baby when I first listened to the debut single, The Fly. But by the time they released Mysterious Ways, I got they what they were doing.
The album starts off with the crushing guitars of Zoo Station letting you know early on this wasn’t going to be The Joshua Tree II. Bono even lets you know on the song, “I’m ready for what’s next,” and so was everyone listening. But it was the next track that emphasized the album, Even Better than the Real Thing. It’s funny how Nirvana is credited for destroying the self-indulgent rock of the eighties right around the time when one of the few introspective band from the era started to embrace the over the top persona of the rock star.
But even as the sound took a dramatic turn, the major themes of previous albums were there. U2 always writes the best relationship songs that transcend those of lovers to family and friend, and arguably their best is on Achtung Baby, One. Right up there with Every Breath You Take as the most misinterpreted songs of all time, One is more about a failing relationship than a loving one, “Did I disappoint you? Leave a bad taste in your mouth?” That sentiment is also portrayed in Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses and So Cruel, two more songs that really hit close to home.
As I mentioned earlier, it took me a while to fully appreciate The Fly, in fact it wasn’t until I heard the song live, and hearing The Edge start the song off with the chorus, “Love, we shine like a burning star. We’re fallin’ from the sky, tonight” that I finally got the essence of the song and has become one of my favorite of theirs. But my favorite song on the album is reserved for Until the End of World. I was just beginning my era as a moody teenager when this album came out, listening to a lot of the uber-depressing grunge that was big at the time and the song essentially was making fun of me and my flannel wearing posse, Everybody was having a good time except you, you were acting like it was the end of the world.” Now I know better than to focus on the doom and gloom so now when I eat the food and drink the wine, I no longer talk about the end of the world.
Many point to The Joshua Tree as their best work, and maybe so, but this was the album that told the world it’s time to start talk about the band in the discussion of best of all time. It showed that the band didn’t have to make the same record over and over again and could still make great music trying different things. The album even included the first U2 song you can dance to, Mysterious Ways. But it’s only a matter of time until another U2 album makes it into the SHoF.