U2 – The Unforgettable Fire – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

Super Hot Stampers on side one, giving you excellent sound for the big hit “Pride (In The Name Of Love)”, backed with an A+ side two! We had a big stack of these to compare and not too many of them were in a league with this one, particularly on the first side. Most copies are too dark and murky to really come to life, but this one is cleaner, clearer and more open throughout.

’80s vinyl is almost always tricky in terms of sound, and U2 is not a band we associate with audiophile-quality sonics. We’ve been through a number of their albums now, including War and The Joshua Tree, and while Demo Quality Sound may never be in the cards for these guys, we have at very least found pressings that do a better job communicating the music. I don’t want to throw on a record that just sounds like a CD when I have access to so much amazing sounding vinyl, but clean and play enough copies of this album and eventually you’ll find one like this copy that gives you something to enjoy.

Side one has the big sound; it’s cleaner, clearer and much more open than the average copy. It’s smooth enough to allow you to crank the levels, which helps the big hit Pride really come to life. The vocals sound correct and the bottom end has good weight.

Side two is nearly as good, with clear and present vocals and nice texture to the guitar. The soundfield is open with nice depth and you can actually hear into it, not all that possible on the typical murky pressing. It doesn’t have all the low-end punch of the side one but it’s still pretty darn good.

Bottom line? While this may not be a record that’s going to blow anyone’s mind a la a killer copy of Zuma or Deja Vu, it does a very good job bringing this music to life in a way that most copies out there just won’t do. If you’re a fan of U2, I imagine you’ll be quite pleased with the sound we were able to find here.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

A Sort of Homecoming
Pride
Wire
The Unforgettable Fire
Promenade

Side Two

4th of July
Bad
Indian Summer Sky
Elvis Presley and America
MLK

AMG  Review

In many ways, U2 took their fondness for sonic bombast as far as it could go on War, so it isn’t a complete surprise that they chose to explore the intricacies of the Edge’s layered, effects-laden guitar on the follow-up, The Unforgettable Fire. Working with producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, U2 created a dark, near-hallucinatory series of interlocking soundscapes that are occasionally punctuated by recognizable songs and melodies. In such a setting, the band both flourishes and flounders, creating some of their greatest music, as well as some of their worst… the wet, shimmering textures of the title track, the charging “A Sort of Homecoming,” and the surging Martin Luther King, Jr. tribute “Pride (In the Name of Love)” are all remarkable, ranking among U2’s very best music, making the missteps that clutter the remainder of the album somewhat forgivable.

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