Look at the credits on your U2 albums and you'll notice that Cheryl Engels gets more mentions than most, usually for something mysteriously entitled 'audio post-production' Most recently she has been working with Edge on the remastering of the band's first three albums, Boy, October and War. We asked Cheryl to listen back through the band's albums to come up with her U2 Playlist.
1. An Cat Dubh
Bono has said he was probably the cat in this song, although it is a female kitty in the lyrics. I'm ashamed to say I relate to this feline, having played the role in at least one relationship that was over long before I actually exited - instead dragging it out because I dreaded hurting the guy by telling him it was done - which, of course, created way more seemingly endless pain - sort of like shaking around the poor little half eaten birdie in this tune. I love the mix balance, and the fluidity of the instrumental segue to 'Into The Heart' - just lovely music; how could this have come out of a bunch of teenaged boys?
2. I Threw A Brick Through A Window
I remember the moment I knew I had outgrown my hometown, or my hometown had outgrown me, and, well, I had to get out of there; this song reminds me of that time, when Life's Journey was in pause for a plethora of reasons. Plus, Larry gets a solo and Adam is featured. What more could you ask for? Oh, perhaps Edge on bottleneck guitar? In addition, how about lyrics like "no one is blinder than he who will not see?" Who doesn't relate to that line? This is a song that shone in live performances; check out the live versions on the remastered 'Boy' deluxe box set bonus CD.
Poignant uilleann pipes provide a brilliant foundation for this straight-from-the-soul song. Missing a Loved One, missing God, missing Peace. Frustration, loss, & fear are underscored in the arrangement of the second half of the song where the full band comes in. A more spare and traditionally Irish view, featuring Adam and Bono, is on display in the mix done in 1997 for the album, 'Common Ground'. I recently heard a recording of 'Tomorrow' from a 1983 gig in Glasgow, complete with a piper, which brought me to tears; I so wish I had been in that audience.
A journalist once described this track as "U2 boogies along to the Apocalypse," and that is how I have always heard it. I am from the generation that was taught to 'duck and cover'. Not much has changed in the years since I was a kid; we all still live with the possibility of total annihilation at the touch of a button. U2 are ahead of the times - this song even includes a sample. Edge is the groove-meister here, even contributing lead vocals in the first verse, and I love Adam's funky bass line. You should check out the live version on the upcoming Red Rocks DVD.
(Thinking about both 'Bad' and 'Wire') In 'Wire' the band rock so much you can almost hear the walls of Slane Castle cracking from the volume. This intense track is one of the most fascinating productions ever by Eno and Lanois. In 'Bad', the rhythm section breaks new ground. I love the ambiguity of the lyrics in both songs, which directly, or indirectly, address serious drug addiction - they have been called incomplete sketches, but who cares? Clearly a case of musical alchemy - individual ingredients collide to create a completely new, rare, and priceless element.
6. Mothers of the Disappeared
Missing husbands, sons, and fathers throughout Latin America were a shocking theme in 1987. Sting released 'They Dance Alone' that same year, which was about the wives, mothers, and daughters of the missing in Chile. U2's 'Mothers' was a lament for Argentina's Disappeared. Desolate and heartrending. I was working at A&M Recording Studios when U2 was in
mixing the 'Rattle & Hum' album and film score in 1988. At A&M, whenever a session needed a large group of voices, all the studio employees would be summoned to provide whatever was needed. I can hear myself on many iconic records - I'm killer on handclaps. 'Mothers' was being worked on for inclusion in the film, and Jimmy Iovine must have wanted more audience in the response sections, because a group of studio staff was lined up in Studio A to record vocals. I got there late, or someone mistakenly assumed everyone would already know the Spanish lyrics, "El pueblo vencera" we were meant to sing. Anyhow, no one told me what to sing; I don't speak Spanish, and I erroneously thought everyone was singing something like, "Del puebla que sera sera." And because I really wanted to help, I was singing quite loudly. It was years before I discovered the chant wasn't about "what will be will be." The song didn't make it into the film. Our overdubs exist on a tape somewhere, and someday I'm going to find that tape.
7. Bullet the Blue Sky (Live)
A song about dichotomy - I am an American, a fact that makes me feel simultaneously proud and ashamed - the best and the worst of man. That's what this song is about to me. In 2006, Dave Stewart interviewed Bono and Edge for his HBO TV series, "Off the Record." In the interview Bono talked about what he saw and heard, and his feelings of anger and fear, during a firebombing he witnessed when he first visited El Salvador. Bono said he related his experiences to Edge and asked him to put those stories through his amplifier. Which he did. And that is 'Bullet The Blue Sky'.
8. Van Diemen's Land
I'm a fan of anything that has Edge on vocals. The opening title credit roll for Phil Joanou's 'Rattle and Hum' film is an aerial montage of Irish landscapes, Dublin cityscapes, and images of the band in rehearsal in Dublin, all scored to 'Van Diemen's Land' - it is a such a poetic moment - a perfect opening for the film.
9. Love is Blindness
(Thinking about 'Love is Blindness' and 'Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses' (Temple Bar Mix)'. 'Love is Blindness' is a desperate, moody, heart of darkness, sensual song. My favorite version of the track appears on the 'Zoo TV Live from Sydney' DVD. 'Wild Horses', to me, deals with similar topics. When this album was being mastered, I was in a relationship that was spiralling out of control and unraveling before my eyes. The arrangement and lyrics of 'Horses' and 'Blindness' spoke directly to my situation. "You're an accident waiting to happen; a piece of glass left there on the beach. "Playing these songs back-to-back, I had to wonder if someone was reading my diary - but no, merely a mark of terrific universal song writing.
Reasons for appearance include but are not limited to:
1. Larry on backing vocals
2. The Video Single
3. Edge's performance at 1993 MTV Video Awards
4. Soul Assassins Remix
5. The way it sets up 'Lemon' so perfectly on the album
6. Bono's falsetto vocals
7. Gimme Some More Dignity Remix
8. The 'Zoo TV Live from Sydney' DVD performance, complete with Emergency Broadcast Network imagery & sound effects
9. Those blue uniforms
11. If You Wear That Velvet Dress
I first heard this track when it arrived at Masterdisc in NYC for mastering of the POP album. I remember listening to the album in a candlelit studio with Flood and the mastering engineer the evening it arrived, and instantly falling in love with this sexy song for the ladies. A couple of days later the band came in, and everyone was sitting together in the studio playing back tracks. I was walking across the room and when I passed Bono, he jumped out of his seat, drew me into a tight embrace, and we slow danced cheek to cheek around the studio, while everyone else sat and stared (or at least that was how it felt). I'm a little on the self-conscious side to begin with, so the entire event embarrassed me tremendously. I think he was experimenting to see how the song would play on tour - could he use it to bring girls up out of the audience for a slow dance? Obviously he thought it worked, and, subsequently, each time I see him slow dance with an audience member during 'Velvet Dress', I remember that day - of course time has softened the moment into a fuzzy warm memory.
12. Miss Sarajevo
I have been an ardent admirer of Luciano Pavarotti since the late 70s, when Public TV in the USA broadcast a series of master classes he conducted for young singers. He was well known in the classical world at the time, but this was well before the Three Tenors had even been thought of, and he wasn't a household name in pop circles. I fancied him my 'secret discovery'. I loved the tender manner in which he addressed the young talent in his classes - just watching his face as he listened to them singing was transporting. When 'Miss Sarajevo' came along, I could not believe I was going to have a hand in EQing the master's vocals. This was sacred territory to me - and today I still can't believe I worked on this song. The video remains one of my favorite U2 visuals. Bono's vocals on this song during the Vertigo tour were just remarkable.
13. Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of (Radio Edit)
This is a 'fell in love at first listen' tune for me. I love the gospel chorus at the end, and the lyrics are amongst my favorites from U2. When the single came along, we needed a version for radio; many ideas were tried over a number of days, but the band wasn't satisfied with any of the results. Eventually we ran past the deadline for delivery, but still no mix. Higher powers advised a decision had to be made on a particular date, also the day of one of the Paris shows on the Elevation tour. Before the show, Edge phoned in instructions, and my editor and I frantically put together many edit variations in a studio in LA.
Following the show, the band was whisked away to a party hosted by the label in a small Parisian boite. Upon arrival at the party, Sheila Roche escorted Edge into the men's room (or perhaps the ladies room), shoved a phone in his hand, and told him to listen to our edits until he could settle upon one. She stood guard outside the door of the lavatory for the next half hour, while we played mixes down the phone and made more tweaks on the fly (the epitome of high tech engineering). I heard from someone at the label how inconvenienced many guests were during that half hour, but bladders be damned, we got our radio edit that night.
14. 'Kite' (Live from Sydney, Nov, 2006)
(Thinking about this with 'Tower Of Song' (from the film 'Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man')
Honorable mention has to go to these two B-Sides off the 'Window In The Skies' single. 'Kite' comes replete with didgeridoo, a glorious guitar solo from Edge, and a dedication to Cate Blanchette (one of God's wonders). Bono's vocals are something to write home about. A perfect live experience - I believe there was even a real kite soaring high in the Sydney sky that night. U2 has collaborated on live performances with many artists: 'Tower Of Song' is one, and is an understated masterpiece - what a delectable song by Leonard Cohen - Edge's guitar is so tasty -- there is a video, which just adds another layer to this rich slice of chocolate cake. "I said to Hank Williams, 'How lonely does it get?' Hank Williams hasn't answered me yet, but I hear him coughing all night long, a hundred floors above me, in the tower of song."
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