12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All that is good about U2
Achtung Baby stands out as a masterpiece in U2's illustrious history. In this album, painfully ground out over a year of re-recording and re-inventing in 1990's Berlin, the power of U2's music is as direct and compelling as ever. The real beauty here, though, is the wit and intelligence of the music. This contrasts with their earlier music on the one hand, which tended to...
Published on 30 April 2001 by email@example.com
3.0 out of 5 stars Achtung Baby
Some good tracks, some less memorable; in my very subjective opinion they band have got better since this mid-period; one for the collection
Published 22 months ago by clemency
Most Helpful First | Newest First
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All that is good about U2,
Achtung Baby stands out as a masterpiece in U2's illustrious history. In this album, painfully ground out over a year of re-recording and re-inventing in 1990's Berlin, the power of U2's music is as direct and compelling as ever. The real beauty here, though, is the wit and intelligence of the music. This contrasts with their earlier music on the one hand, which tended to be naively honest, and their later work on the other which became almost a little too contrived. Achtung Baby is thus the album that best captures all that is good about U2 over their lifetime: a balance between the self-conscious cool and kitsch sounds of their later years, and the intensity and passion upon which they built their reputation.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Achtung, Bank Accounts!,
Do you remember a time, before "One" by U2 existed?
From the moment I heard it, I fell back in love with U2, after seperating myself from them in early 1990, tiring of their po-faced, hat-wearing, world-saving, holier-than-thou ubersincerity.
If you think they are po-faced and preachy now, you should've seen them then. Dull as dishwater, hectoring. Good at what they did, brilliant at what they did, but what they did wasn't brilliant. And U2 always wanted to be the best at what they did. Ambition bites the nails of success. "Achtung Baby" was the album where they took their ambitions and the accessable, stadium rock band they always wanted to be, played with the idea a bit, and reset themselves as something a little less obvious.
You might be expecting a classic rock album. The type that "Nevermind" was going to make obselete. U2 went somewhere else. Somewhere beautiful. Opening with a squall of feedback, a distorted burst of static, a clattering, keen drum attack. "Zoo Station" was where U2 discovered the ability to let go of everything but what they could be. The ability to be silly, stupid, flippant, and also use humour and playfulness to reveal the deadly terror of heartbreak. So "Achtung, Baby" was perhaps the right title : the warning of danger of relationships, children, and beautiful women that leave wreckage in their path. Achtung! Baby.
At the heart of it - the delicate arpeggios and searching rock gestures - it was still the same band, the same heart of it in new and strange clothes, still wanting to be accessable and resonant and popular. U2 have often chased relevance at the cost of being interesting. "The Fly" was a clarion call of intent. This radical invention saw the band set themselves as leaders. The following years the bands that wanted to be the next U2 - Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, and a thousand other wannabe's - all went dirty and got "real" instead of living the dream. Here though U2 tackled, in a loose form a concept : the gap between reality and illusion, between love and lovelessness, the place we all live. Lyrics became suggestive, almost erotic, human, and real. This record that shaped my healthy distrust of the world around me. "The Fly", where a guitar solo is backed by an orchestra of car horns, and Bono sings like a soul diva, was the sound of four men chopping down the Joshua Tree, taking the tools they had, and playing with it.
As an album though, it achieved a greatness few others ever have. Each song sat thematically together with the rest of the work. Musically the songs channeled a progression through the 12 pieces, from the roar of "Zoo Station" to the exhausted howl of the searing "Love Is Blindness". Inspired by the bitter divorce of guitarist The Edge, the lyrics resonated with me then and now : about love and hope and trust and betrayal, both personally and in another respect, politically, the gap between perception and reality. This record made sense of an often senseless world. When one is trying to find their place in the world.
On this enormous deluxe edition, the band offer immense value, with six audio CD's - including the album itself, followup "Zooropa", two discs of b-sides and unreleased versions, and two discs of the numerous remixes and reinterpretations that showed them very clearly playing with the form. There's gold in those hills. Plenty of gold. Though, I admit, also, plenty of lost nuggets during the period covered in this set : two furiously prolific years that saw two albums, eight singles, 32 remixes, 9 b-sides, 3 home videos, 153 live shows and a band creatively in abandon and overdrive. As "Zooropa" proved U2 should think less and do more.
Quite why "Zooropa" is bundled in here baffles me : it's U2's strongest, strangest record and one that is worthy of a standalone release. The extra songs shelved during it's rushed creation would also surely fascinate : you could easily make a deluxe edition for this album in itself.
The extra tracks are the key draw here : Disc Six - "Kindergarten" - shows the album in an embryonic version. Most of the songs are roughly constructed, but the lyrics are all over the place, the arrangements in different places ; "One" is more of a classic folk song, "Trying To Throw Your Arms Around The World" is a busk, the rest are insights into the number of variations a song evolves through before it is born. Nothing from the much bootlegged 1990 tapes is here as such. On Disc Five - "Bsides And Bonus Tracks" - contains six reworked songs from the bootlegs, rerecorded, redubbed, remodelled and polished - but not a note of the original tapes are still here. The B-sides are strong pieces, but compiled in a haphazard fashion with seemingly little attempt to make a listenable body of work out of it. Not helped with "Oh Berlin" having some of the worst lyrics Bono has ever thunked or speechifyied, about the terror of angels. "Down All The Days" - the demo of "Numb" - shows what an enormous difference a different vocal melody can make to a near identical song as the backing tracks are 99% the same thing. A fascinating insight into the creative process.
This deluxe edition is incomplete : "Night And Day", "Can't Help Falling In Love" and "Slow Dancing" are missing (though the first two are included in lesser, remixed forms). Alternate versions of several songs that appear on film soundtracks and singles are absent. The two remix discs contain between them, 6 remixes of "Mysterious Ways" and miss at least four key remixes ("Stay", "Dirty Day", "Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car" and the highly-sought after, not to say excellent, Perfecto remix of "Numb"). There's 53 minutes of unused space across the 4 bonus CD's as well, so the reason for these baffling exclusions must be deliberate or an incompetent oversight.
There are four DVD's : a (already released) live show which is therefore, pretty much pointless, an fascinating TV special with several live songs from the 1992 tour, promo videos and a retrospective documentary. The documentary will benefit a standalone release, however as it is, "From The Sky Down" is an indepth look at the U2 creative process on some of the key songs in the album, bolstered by interviews, archive video, and contemporary live / rehearsal footage that shows U2 and where these songs are now. It carries a huge implied knowledge - the bands key alumni such as manager, producers, and engineer are not introduced. It covers the creation of the record in a learned depth, though, somewhat oddly, feels as if it is still missing some key points ; Edge's divorce that inspired the lyrics is not mentioned once, nor are many of the albums songs.
Overall, this is an exhaustive, immense package. For the price the content is certainly value for money : though certainly imperfect and missing many important tracks of musical trivia that would provide a complete, definitive overview of the era. As far as deluxe editions go, this one sticks strictly to the music in a huge binge of about 14 hours of music. Achtung, Bank Accounts.
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Deluxe Thing Done Right,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
On paper, there's no way that this package can be worth the asking price: two albums that most people will already own, a live DVD that has been available for years, a documentary that aired free on the BBC. Anyone could be forgiven for being somewhat cynical. So let's take a look in the box.
Oh my God but this packaging is impressive. The art print portfolio and book are securely encased in a great-looking slipcase printed with the original album cover: for those of us who bought the album originally on CD, even having the cover at this scale is a treat. The portfolio comes in a brown card sleeve embossed with the album's "face star car" logo. The sixteen art prints themselves are on heavy, high-quality card and enable you to assemble your own version of the album sleeve if you have sixteen square foot of wall nearby. Very good (and I don't even care about the prints!)
The hardback book is simply gorgeous: six CDs are housed securely in the front cover, four DVDs in the back cover. The book contains copious artwork and a number of essays in addition to lyrics and credits for the box set. Personally I prefer text to photos, but a good balance is struck between the two and the production is very good. Basically, the book on its own could fetch a substantial retail price.
Discs one and two are Achtung Baby and Zooropa. You don't need my opinion on how good these albums are (if you don't rate them at five stars you should seriously consider why you are reading about this set in the first place). I thought that these albums had been remastered, but if so, I can't hear it. They were always great-sounding albums and they still are, but - if they aren't remastered - there will be no reason for most U2 fans ever to take them out of the book.
Disc Three and Disc Four are CDs of remixes. You know what to expect.
Disc Five collects the B Sides and Bonus Tracks. Often discs like this are "all filler no killer", but in this case half of the tracks are from the Achtung Baby sessions and offer intriguing glimpses of a different path that the album could have taken.
Disc Six is a treat: the entire album in a so-called "Kindergarten" version, which seems to be mixed from the original album sessions in Berlin. I suspect that for most fans this is the disc that will be the most interesting: the versions are notably different in places and the sound quality excellent.
The overall running time for the CDs is six hours and while not everything on those six hours will interest all fans, there is enough here to please most listeners, whether you are a U2 obsessive or just a casual fan who likes these studio albums.
The DVD selection in this set is slightly dodgy. The new documentary is an entire DVD with only about an hour and a quarter on it. Because it's a new documentary, you get Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks but, to be honest, it's not as revealing as it thinks and it is a shame that this isn't a longer cut of the documentary than aired on television. It wouldn't have killed them to put some bonus performances on this disc.
The Videos DVD has a running time of a little short of one and a half hours, is in 4:3 ratio and only has a stereo soundtrack. It includes all the variants of each video, and includes all the videos for Zooropa as well as those for Achtung Baby, so it's certainly a disc that a collector would want.
The Zoo TV: Live in Sydney DVD is in 4:3 ratio and the video quality is not great. It's a shame that this wasn't remastered and given a commentary, but bear in mind that you are getting what amounts to nearly two and a half hours of the band live with a soundtrack in Dolby Digital and DTS. If you don't have it already, it's a very decent extra.
The Bonus Material DVD is actually pretty good, bringing together the Zoo TV documentary and other bits & pieces. Again, video quality is not great and the sound is only stereo, but it was definitely worth pulling together almost three hours of (mainly promotional) footage and fans will enjoy this.
This is a very decent package, even given the uber-deluxe pricepoint. If your wallet can bear it, get one before they're gone.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning!,
Yes, like every U2 I already owned Achtung Baby, Zooropa and ZOOTV Live from Sydney. But when details of this reissue were made public I just knew I had to have it. The Super Deluxe is the must-have format for the dedicated fan. The presetation is outstanding. I was expecting it to come in a lot of little bits with CDs rolling around the place but everything is very compact and well thought out. Everything is build around the book with the CD's and DVD's firlmy secured into the front and back covers.
My only criticism of the book is that while we get Corbijn, Eno and Lanois' views among others the band members themselves say nothing. That said, they probably said everything they need to in U2ByU2 and in the documentaries included on the DVDs. The bonus material disc is really fantastic with one part of it showing a vast amount of a 1992 concert including MirrorBall Man overshadowed by Macphisto for too long!) preaching about his 'vision'. This made up for my initial disappointment that Sydney was the tour concert chosen for the reissue.
The Kindergarten disc is really good. The initial versions of the songs are very different mucially, especially TTTYARTW and LIB. All of the songs are different lyrically. Great listen for any Achtung fan. The b-sides disc is very good too. It contains a lot of really good material particularly 'Blow Your House Down' and 'Down All The Days'.
All in all, this a great reissue. Well worth the money to see U2 during the greatest period of their career.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to our new direction...,
Following the bombast of "The Joshua Tree" and the rootsy cod-Americana of the disappointing "Rattle & Hum" it appeared to many that U2 had creatively ground to a halt, run out of ideas, and would be little more than an embarrassing footnote in the bright shiny new 1990's. That they managed to reinvent themselves so completely with this record is surprising enough, but the fact that's it became one of the most influential and inspired records of the decade, suggests at a comeback of truly Lazarus-like proportions.
This is an inspired record, capturing the zeitgeist of the period perfectly (the breakdown of the USSR/Eastern Europe, the beginnings of globalization, our obsession with television and media) and showcasing a band completely in tune with the times in which they lived. Gone is the overblown, pompous posturing of the 80's, replaced by a sleek, stripped down, streamlined machine, who enjoy poking fun at themselves and deconstructing their own myth. In short it's the sound of a band who've finally learnt to have fun.
Having ditched the formulaic guitar heavy anthems that characterised previous records the mood here is much looser, dancier and electronic, with this sense of freedom and abandon pulsing through songs like "Ever Better Than The Real Thing", "Mysterious Ways" and "Until The End of the World". It also features three of U2's very best ballads in the form of "One", "So Cruel" and the beautiful "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses?" which underpin and provide the emotional heartbeat of the record. Throw in "Zoo Station", "The Fly", "UV" and "Love is Blindness" and you've got an album that always delivers and never disappoints.
In time Achtung Baby has proved to be a landmark release, and one which U2 have never bettered. Even 18 years after its release it feels fresh, vibrant and still has something to say, which really is a great achievement.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Costly, but worth it for the fans,
This review is from: Achtung Baby 20th Anniversary Über Deluxe Box Set (Audio CD)
Became a U2 fan because of Achtung Baby, so this set really was a self-indulgent treat. Well packaged on arrival, and very heavy, I unwrapped each layer of this set and spent hours on a trip down memory lane to 20 years ago looking at countless photographs, posters and reading the reprint of Propaganda within the extensive printed materials.
There is a code that enables you to access all of the digital media inside online so that you don't need ever to open the CDs - and so many tracks to listen to. My favourite is actually "Kindergarten" - the pre-worked songs of Achtung Baby. All so familiar, but still so far from the final masterpiece.
The DVDs make for hours of interesting viewing too, from the rockumentarys of the time such as MTV and the Outside Broadcast specials, to the recently released 'From The Sky Down' review of the Achtung Baby sessions. My gripe? Why not include Blu-Ray versions where possible as some items available separately are in this format.
Clearly one for the fans, they'll be delighted with ths and will go missing from family and friends for days.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the box set to get!,
I'd be waiting for the re-release date of Achtung Baby for what felt like ages, ever since the boxset details were announced earlier this year. Having been blinded by the collectable riches available in the Uber-Deluxe set (the Fly glasses looked like the clincher for me), I decided against shelling out the best part of £275. I made the right choice, as this is THE boxset to invest in.
The packaging is reassuringly solid, heavy and enticing. You already know what's inside but Christmas has come early for the millions of U2 fans across the globe. This is the re-issue that eclipses both the Joshua Tree and Unforgettable Fire limited editions by some distance, not least because it's an era-defining album that nearly broke the band in half. It's the one album I would listen to daily.
The array of CDs and DVDs is excellent, even though the duplicate of the Sydney gig should have been changed. We all own it, so it's a waste of a disc. A ZooTV first leg concert would have been a more tantalising offering.
'From the Sky Down' is a brilliant documentary with lots of rare footage - worthy of a release in it's own right.
The remix CDs won't be to everyone's tastes, but it takes you back to when U2 experimented with the cross-over into dance music.
I'm already looking to find a wall big enough in my house to re-create the album cover with the art prints included here. You know you want to.
Grab yourself a copy of this set while you can. Indulge yourself. Achtung Baby is their best work, so lose yourself again with Ultra Violet, So Cruel and Who's Gonna ride Your Wild Horses.
A shimmering package that all fans should own.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch more TV,
By A Customer
Be in no doubt; this is the ultimate U2 album. December 31st 1989, Dublin; U2 announce on stage that it's 'the end of something for U2. We just have to go and dream it all up again'. They succeeded. Reappearing on the world stage in 1991, they released Achtung Baby... From the opening of Zoo Station with it's dramatic use of stereo sound, through the dancy Even Better Than The Real Thing (watch the video if you get the chance), it's gritty guitars and punchy vocals, with Larry and Adam providing a powerful rhythm. 'One' is one of their best songs ever, and a popular listen for those in need of solice everywhere.
The album continues, with not a single moment letting it down. The Fly and Mysterious Ways are two further highlights, but really this whole album is a joy and a pleasure. They invented irony in music, and this album shows it off. There's a full spectrum of slow and fast songs, quiet and loud; a wonderfully diverse album.
This album has not dated in 9 years, and possibly never will. It's U2's best album, and one of the best albums ever written. Make sure you listen to it sometime.
And if you want more, try the Zoo TV video - an audio-visual spectacular...
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Their best album and why you don't need the re-issue!,
This review is from: Achtung Baby [20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition] (Audio CD)
Firstly, let me be totally honest and state here and now that I am not a great fan of U2 at all, although I do own The Unforgettable Fire, Rattle And Hum, Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby, Pop and How To Dismantle The Atomic Bomb. At least I have given them a chance though, no one can deny me that!
Achtung Baby was originally released in 1991 and I recall the critics saying that it was U2's "Blood On The Tracks" (the 1975 Dylan so-called 'Comeback LP') seeing as though the band had effectively swapped its songs of social conscience and worldly views for more personal introspection. I can't comment on this although being a Dylan fan I can see the relationship between the two albums on a purely anecdotal basis.
This weekend I pulled out my 1991 CD issue to see if I thought it was lacking and needed 're-mastering'. Now here's the thing: every so often I do this when I read a lot of claptrap in fora where fans and collectors bemoan why an artist/group doesn't release this that or the other or people are questioning the logic of re-issues and repackaging. I read a lot from U2 fans who claim that the new disc is NOT RE-MASTERED after all. Clearly there has been a lot of disappointment about this. Needless to add that if you're disappointed with the release no one is forcing you to buy it (again)!
However let me say that I consider myself to be something of an audiophile and the original release does not need re-mastering, remixing or anything else. It sounded absolutely superb on my system and simply blew me away. Remember also that modern CD's sound very compressed and lack dynamic range due to the ridiculous obsession with Loudness Wars (Google it!) U2 have already suffered this with the later CD releases with dynamic compression sucking the life out of HTDTAB for starters. Achtung Baby thankfully predates the Loudness Wars by at least 5 years and was very well recorded and mastered originally. Nothing unusual you might say given that they were at the time one of the richest bands on the planet and could afford to make the best sounding records of the day. And so they did......
But what about the music? Well as a non-U2 fan I must say that unlike most of their other albums Achtung Baby has no filler on it anywhere. I bought my copy from a car-boot sale in 1992 for just £3 and back then it was the best money I had ever spent. Every track is a winner and the album IS also greater than the some of its parts. Forget all the hype about the rock band embracing modern dance rhythms, that's all pat. This is not only U2's best album by far, it's also one of the single greatest albums of the 1990's!
But please remember it's so great you won't need the superfluous padding to make it sound better. It definitely does not need re-mastering either. If you already own it, you're done, it can't get much better. Forget all the other junk, the original album is the key. As I'm highly sceptical about most modern CD re-masters and suspect that the new CD (if it HAS been re-mastered) will be dynamically compressed I'd advise getting hold of a copy of the original 1991 CD which sounds superb anyway.
Did I say that I liked it?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Baby Baby Baby Light My Way!,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This Super Deluxe box is a thing of beauty to any hardcore U2 fan. And let's face it,U2 really have set the bar pretty high when it comes to deluxe box sets for their album remasters. Check out these "The Unforgettable Fire (Remastered - Super Deluxe Edition)" & "Joshua Tree (Deluxe)". Contained within this set is almost everything to do with their mammoth albums Achtung Baby & Zooropa,both aural and visual,as well as the Zoo Tv world tour,gathered together in the one slipcase. Let's have a look at what's inside.
First up,the package. The quality is right up there with some of the best Super Deluxe box sets we've had released of late. Nice thick paper/cardboard for the book,art prints and slipcase.10 discs (6xcd and 4xDVD) are safely housed inside the front and back covers of the huge 12" LP sized book and arrived at my house all in place and undamaged. There are some really nice essays about the recording process from the various parties involved and a lot of photos taken by Anton Corbjin while the album was being made.
The audio for the most part sounds good on all discs and it's great to have all of those fantastic club mixes in the one place,spread over two discs,instead of having to dig out all my vinyl & cd singles. There's a disc of bonus tracks and b-sides,some of which are unreleased demos. Interesting to hear this now legendary band jamming. But the real revelation here is the previously unreleased first mix of the entire album,the so called "Kindergarten" version. This is where I started my revisiting of Achtung Baby and if you know the album well,it's fascinating to hear different mixes,arrangements and even lyrics. Without a doubt,a major bonus of this box set. All in all six cd's of pretty good content.
Now to the dvd's. The new documentary "From The Sky Down",is good if not a bit short at only an hour and fifteen minutes. The second dvd is a collection of videos in all their various alternate versions and mixes from both albums. The third dvd contains a couple of MTV specials,one of which is almost a full show from the first USA leg of the Zoo Tv tour and a couple of period documentaries,some of which have been released before on the second disc of U2 - Zoo TV [Limited Edition] [DVD] deluxe set. The fourth dvd is the first disc from the above mentioned Zoo Tv release which I already own and believe most U2 fans will also have previously purchased. It would have been nice to get a different show from what was a very extensive tour. I've taken off a star from what otherwise would've been a five star set for making me buy this dvd again.
If you're a crazy U2 fan,like me,I suggest you track down one of these box sets ASAP. I think you'll be suitably impressed especially with the previously unreleased audio. If you're a real fanatical then there's the "Achtung Baby 20th Anniversary Über Deluxe Box Set" which is a little more on the expensive side and has vinyl records as well as all the digital discs amongst a host of extra content. I'm more than happy with the Super Deluxe. Now I'm ready for the laughing gas and am off to Zoo Station,it's even better than the real thing!
Most Helpful First | Newest First