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Not to be a jerk, but Adam Clayton (bassist for U2… i.e. guy with the easiest job in the world) has a serious clam in the U2 Rose Bowl Youtube broadcast. Check out 17:30 on the video. Bummer man. Right after his huge rock star pose too (17:20). Apparently playing the main bass line in the CHORUS of a song you play every night while walking across a stage bridge is too difficult even for Adam Clayton.

Seriously though, the rest of the show is great.  The broadcast was live this past Sunday night, but the video (all 2.5 hours of it) is still up on U2’s youtube channel.  Well worth the time, and I don’t know how long it will be there, being that the “normal” youtube video is 9 minutes max.

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Been thinking this week about how, historically speaking, artists are normally slightly ahead of their audiences. In this way the artists themselves are always the ones responsible for the “progress” in the medium. Technology is driven by the market, Sports are driven by the competition, Politics are driven by the culture… but Art is driven by the artists, often to the dismay of the market/competition/culture. In this way Art plays a huge role in forming/influencing the future.

Sorry for being overly deep. I’m just really impressed with artists that take chances and intentionally move away from the comfort zone that brought them their success – pushing themselves into new areas that don’t necessarily promise the same results. Case in point: this cool interview with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois about the making of U2’s The Unforgettable Fire.

10/25/09 UPDATE: I’m watching the Youtube live broadcast of U2’s Rose Bowl show.  I am really struck right now with how HUGE this band’s footprint is on music/culture.  It’s hard to believe one band can accomplish so much.

Music news for the week…

– Of course everybody knows about what Kanye West did on Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards show, but maybe some of you haven’t seen his apology from Monday’s Leno show.  Rolling Stone

– Coldplay has settled their lawsuit with guitarist Joe Satriani, citing “under stipulation.”  Legal sources for both parties say that the agreement contains a “financial settlement.”  Billboard

– The Californian cult-indie band Pavement is reuniting… or at least they are scheduled to perform at Central Park Summerstage in Sept of 2010, which will be their first show since there official goodbye in 1999. Brooklyn Vegan

– Bobby Graham, a very prolific and respected British session player from the 60’s, passed away on Monday.  Graham played on over 15,000 tracks and was allegedly on the short list for replacing Pete Best in the Beatles before Ringo joined.  NME

– U2 is reissuing their 1984 record, “The Unforgettable Fire,” which is due out October 27 of this year.  There are apparently multiple versions of the reissue, which will include anything from B-sides and alternate mixes to never-before released tracks.  Billboard

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Some wise words from Bono in a recent Pitchfork interview.

U2 beginning their week-long stand on Letterman…

and… check out Jimmy Fallon and the Roots slow-jamming the news.

Um, what?  Yep, that’s an actual headline from this article

In other news, U2 has a new album out in early March.  I just read that, to promote the record’s release, the band will be on Letterman… for an entire week.

This week it’s all about Pop. As in, the band U2 and their 1997 release, Pop. This record remains U2’s largest side step from their initial sound (Joshua Tree, Rattle and Hum, etc)… but is one of my favorite albums nonetheless.

All great artists evolve over time. You can’t sit in the same creative pool for too long or things get stagnant. The Beatles, Zeppelin, the Police, Radiohead… these bands all followed an artistic road that has, at times, taken them far far away from the music that brought them into the public eye. (For instance, the other day I heard a DJ on a hard rock station how Radiohead hasn’t done anything significant since their 1992 single, “Creep”… a laughable statement.) I would cite Pop as exhibit A in the argument for U2’s status as a truly artistic and creative band, on par with the other bands I listed.

Pop was the official U2 release that followed up on an unofficial and widely unknown experimental record called Original Soundtracks 1 (released under the pseudonym “The Passengers”). Both albums rely heavily on electronica elements characteristic of the late 90’s, such as tape loops and sequencing. Pop was obviously the more commercially targeted of the two recordings, although the sales were down sharply from other U2 records and the album produced no hit singles or Grammys.

The first three tracks of this record pump me up so much. Really hard hitting electronica/dance/pop with great melodies and lyrical hooks, but not without some signature Edge guitar. Most of the bass tracks sound synthesized, and this fits well with the dance vibe. The drumming on the record is strange, but that’s how I feel about most Larry Mullen performances. His feel is just so unusual. It’s solid, but totally unassertive… almost timid sounding. Most of the songs don’t strike me as timid, so it’s hard for me to wrap my head around the way the drums fit in the whole picture, but it works. Especially noteworthy is the snare drum tone on most of the tracks. It’s really thin sounding, but somehow retains a full presence – it reminds me of hot rods or something. Maybe they’re samples? I don’t know.

Lyrically, the record revolves around concepts similar to the early 90’s releases Achtung Baby and Zooropa. U2 was preoccupied at this time with marketing and pop culture, and the ideas of celebrity and stardom. The “rockstar” imagery is all meant to be sarcastic, and this is especially evident in the over-the-top antics in their live shows from the 90’s (see video below).

It should be noted that the band has expressed disappointment in how the record turned out. Rumor has it that they had to hurry to complete the project due to the Popmart tour, which had been booked ahead of time. Bono has said that he wants to have the record remixed so that it would sound “like it was originally intended.” Even so, I love the music on this record, and I love the vulnerable position that U2 takes in producing a record so far outside their 80’s wheelhouse.

You can preview the record here, or go buy it here. And meanwhile, check out this video from the Popmart tour, on of the biggest rock and roll productions in history…

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