Nov
02
1998

Kevin Courtney in the Irish Times

Hearing all U2's brightest songs in one sitting can be a dazzling experience...... Any album which gathers together U2's greatest hits of the 1980s has to be an absolute winner - who can argue with anthems like Sunday Bloody Sunday, I Will Follow or New Year's Day? Hearing all U2's brightest songs in one sitting can be a dazzling experience, and even if your heart doesn't quite burst during this CD, your voice will most definitely burst into song. The inclusion of a limited edition Bsides collection should also give U2 completists plenty to be nostalgic about. Best Of 1980-1990 doubles as a neat little historical document, charting the explosive passion of a young, eager U2 in I Will Follow, tracking the expertly-aimed love missiles of Pride (In The Name Of Love) and With Or Without You, and noting the mature reflection of I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. The album makes the case for U2 as the defining band of the 1980s, who blended wide-screen visionary rock with a sharp, post-punk sensibility, and who emerge as one of the few acts of the era whose music still stands up proudly and loudly. Interestingly, it's during the later Rattle & Hum period, when U2 were supposedly on top of the world, that the weakest material can be found, such as the quick fix of Desire or the overblown blues of When Love Comes To Town. It's hard to find fault with one of the most consistently far-reaching back catalogues in rock, and my only gripes are with the omission of Gloria and 11 O'Clock Tick Tock, the unnecessary foreshortening of New Year's Day and Where The Streets Have No Name, and the choice of the studio version of Bad over the far superior live version.
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