Oh I remember being SO grown up when I bought this. Although they weren’t quite so enormous just yet, this track and the album it came from (The Unforgettable Fire) helped to propel the group to iconic status.
It was their biggest UK singles chart hit to date, making number 3 after it had been released in the w/e 15 September 1984. I bought it on 20 October that year as it gracefully slid down from the higher reaches of the chart.
U2 – Pride. My first taste of political rock.
It is well documented about whom Pride was written. The picture of him on the back of the record sleeve is a bit of a giveaway too. However, what is more interesting to me is the full stop that the song represents in the end of the early part of the band’s career.
An older cousin of mine who was keen on their early albums was a bit disappointed with The Unforgettable Fire when I lent it to her – she thought that all the tracks would be like Pride and the earlier albums. It isn’t!
The third track and lead single from 1988’s Rattle and Hum.
On the face of it, Desire is a simple enough piece of Rock n Roll. Sometimes because Bono can be so, erm.. irritating, it gets forgotten that U2 are such a brilliant band. It harks back to the sixties, the band acknowledging the influences of the Stooges track 1969.
But more than that, it weighs in a just under three minutes and with its simple arrangement, reminds us of the band’s own punk roots. Only the fact that they are by now a much more polished and accomplished group would, even to the most cynical Bono-is-a-berk adherents, make the case for disagreement with that.
Perhaps surprisingly, it was U2’s first ever UK number 1. It made the number one spot in October 1988 and spent a total of 8 weeks in the chart. By now, this boy was off to University and had given up writing the date of purchase on records. So, I’m sorry but I don’t know when I bought it. Yeah, like you care anyway!
Thus started the second single from Rattle and Hum. This one is again, like Desire, a return to keeping it simple – the fancy brass section apart.
Released, appropriately enough, in December (1988) Angel of Harlem is an homage to Billie Holiday and also to, well… Harlem and New York.
Penned during the Joshua Tree tour of 1987, Bono recalls the group’s first visit to New York in the late 70s / early 80s. A ride in a limousine – a guilty pleasure for the erstwhile punk rockers – and a tour of the city with a Billie Holiday soundtrack on the radio.
The whole Rattle and Hum thing is an extended homage to American roots music / a bloated, self indulgent mess*, but I liked it. It didn’t go down too well with a couple of my new University friends, but heck, if everybody liked everything…? When these same people introduced me to Bob Dylan, I was for a long time underwhelmed by him, even if he did feature on Rattle and Hum. So there you go, homogeneity is so boring!
The single made it to number 9 in the UK singles chart and was backed (on my copy) by A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel. See – another song with another reference to an American great. Other releases were backed by a live version of Love Rescue Me.
Listed at 12 on Rattle and Hum, this was the third single released from the album.
Featuring and written for blues legend BB King, the track was recorded at the seminal Sun Studios in Memphis. Already established as global superstars, it had little effect on U2’s popularity. However, it propelled BB King to a level of stardom that he had never previously enjoyed.
Whilst he was a bone fide star in the blues sphere, the track introduced him to a whole new world of rock fans all over the globe. Now his audiences would feature blues purists and newcomers from the world of rock. It’s probably safe to say that the blues fans would not have been best pleased about this.
When Love comes to Town enjoyed a seven week run in the UK singles chart, peaking at number 6 in April 1989.