Let me start by saying I hate U2. I haven’t liked anything they’ve done since War. When it first came out, October, then War were some of my favorites. My brother had them both and I listened to them constantly. When The Joshua Tree came out, I almost puked. I hated it and everything about it. I don’t know if this was a product of where I was going in my musical tastes, or if it was just so different that it turned me off. I ceased listening to U2 on anything seeming like a regular basis. Ocassionally, I’d hear a radio single or a friend would be playing one of thier albums. Everything I heard turned me off. I had the tedious joy of getting to listen to Atchung, Baby! from begining to end twice in one night at a party shortly after it was released. I almost came to blows with several people at that party, since I did nothing but cut it to shreds the whole time I heard it. I thought it was the worst piece of crap ever released. From that moment forward, I was an avid U2 anti-fan. Everything about them, I hated. From the simple, looped guitar work of The Edge to the whiny nasal voice of Bono. What the hell was with the one-name thing anyways? When they started wearing the shades everywhere, I hated that too. My father in-law and sister are both super-huge U2 fans, so you can imagine the discussions we’ve had.
Knowing the above, you ask why I am reviewing not one, but two U2 discs? Well, I happened to be shopping for Christmas presents for my wife. I have discovered the secret to not killing someone while Christmas shopping. Music. I bring my CD player with me and I listen to music while shopping. Inevitably, while shopping, I pick up a CD or two for myself. This day, I was being very good. I hadn’t even bought myself anything and I was doing semi-well for my wife. I still had about three places to go to, but I had enough CD’s with me to last, so I didn’t even go near the music section. Near the cash register was one of those stands with “New Releases” on it. Being a habit of mine to check out what the chain-stores are forcing down people’s throats this month, I took a peek. There I spotted a grey cover with a buffalo running across it. Intrigued, I picked it up and checked it out. It turned out to be U2 The Best Of 1990-2000 & B-sides, with a “bonus” DVD preview. I began to put it back, but something stopped me and made me take a look at the tracklisting. I put it down twice and picked it back up. Eventually, I came to the realization that if I didn’t buy this, I’d just be coming back or going somewhere else and buying it. So, instead of putting it back, I bought it.
I still had enough shopping left that I would at least get through the first disc and be convinced of how crappy the CD was. I figured that if I didn’t like it, I could give it to my father in-law or sister, whichever didn’t already have this one. For the next hour and a half, I listened to the first disc. Just the first one. I couldn’t take it out, I was so absolutely blown away. It was the best CD purchase I’ve made in many months. I was literally astounded. Not by the CD, but by the fact that I was enjoying it. I’m guessing it’s the fact that I don’t listen to the radio and haven’t heard these songs 30 million times that make them sound so fresh to me. I had only heard most of these songs once or twice and that was back when they were originally out. When I got to the second disc, The B-Sides, I was even more blown away. The remixes and obscure songs are are absolutely brilliant.
I barely took this CD out of my player for the next week or so. I also figured that if there was a compilation from 1990-2000, there HAD to be one from 1980-1990, hopefully also with a B-Sides disc. There was and I HAD to have it. I didn’t even bother to order it online, I ran to the local Newbury Comics and found it. I was impressed with this one, too. Not AS impressed, since I was more familiar with the songs on it but still damn impressed. The real bonus to that one was the fact that I finally have a decent copy of the only U2 song I retained a love for, “Sunday, Bloody Sunday.”
I’m not sure how I could have judged these songs so harshly and pull such a 180 degree turn of opinion on them, but I’m going with it. These are absolutely brilliant songs, put together in absolutely brilliant packages. The inclusion of the B-Sides discs is a stroke of genius to me. I love finding the obscure, rarer songs by any artist, since that’s usually where their “artsy” or “experimental” side come out and these are no exception to that rule. Since I was not a huge fan before I got these, I don’t have many criticisms on what was and what wasn’t included on the compilations. I’ve seen rabid U2 fans pick apart the packages online. I only agree that they should have included more than a “hidden” version of “October” from that album. I’m not familiar enough with each album to say what should have been included. I know they included just the right songs for me, since these CD’s really impressed me. In the linear notes, they should have included where each song was originally released, though. It might be because I haven’t checked out everything they’ve released that I’m not familiar, but it would be nice to know what single each B-side was from, what album the original version of the remixes were on and what album each song was from.
Although, I doubt this will prompt me to run out and buy everything they’ve ever released, these two discs will get a whole lot of play. I haven’t stopped listening to these yet and I highly recommend them to anyone. My father in-law stated it the best, “I knew you’d come around eventually.”