Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kindergarten: The Alternative Achtung Baby

Besides the b-sides and bonus tracks, this 'Kindergarten' disc was the reason why I got the Super Deluxe boxset. These are the early versions of Achtung. They all share one thing in common -- they were missing producers Brian Eno's and Danny Lanois' magic touch, which weren't really apparent on these 'baby' versions as compared to the final. I'll briefly go through the songs one by one:

1. Zoo Station
A much longer intro. Slightly different lyrics. Bono doesn't sing the title in the chorus, so it probably wasn't called Zoo Station early on. Also there's no ('it's alright/hey baby') bridge after the second chorus.

2. Even Better Than The Real Thing
Different lyrics. Different intro. Enjoyable as always, but the one on Achtung is more impactful.

3. One
The acoustic guitars are brought way forward, too much in fact. Obviously the final version is miles better; it's Edge's electric guitar that makes this song what it is.

4. Until The End Of The World
Edge's riff is buried, making the acoustic guitar more prominent. Again, not as impactful.

5. Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
Very different set of words. Edge's signature echo opens the song. Musically there's much more happening here than the final version. But what's missing is that sonic styling of Eno and Lanois. Also Bono's vocals doesn't hit you as much as he does in the Achtung version.

6. So Cruel
Similar to the final, but very different mix. Edge's little guitar riff in the verses can be heard more, and synthesizers are lowered a bit. I prefer Larry's hi-hat sound on Achtung though.

7. The Fly
Not much different. Just a little longer. Best ever Edge solo.

8. Mysterious Ways
Almost the same; with the exception of slight lyrical variations and Edge's small guitar solo after the second chorus. Much better on the final.

9. Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World
The most substantially different version from the final, with a slower tempo. This one here is almost a folk tune; it sounds as if the band was jamming it out for the very first time. It has an upbeat and fun vibe to it. But of course this kind of sound wouldn't have fit into the overall sonic texture of Achtung.

10. Ultra Violet (Light My Way)
The lyrical intro we've all come to love ('sometimes I feel like checking out...') was initially placed at the tail-end of the song. Not as effective as when put at the start.

11. Acrobat
No major differences, except Edge's guitar is slightly louder here. In my opinion, this is some of his best guitar work ever; very underrated. It's like he's playing lead under Bono's singing.

12. Love Is Blindness
Best ever U2 album closer. This 'baby' is over seven minutes long, which is uncomfortably long. The final version was much tighter, concise and more passionate. Missing here is the ominous medieval-like organ intro, which is really the best thing about the song. Also Adam's bass lines; fucking spine-chilling.