'A man will rise,
A man will fall,
On the sheer face of love
Like a fly from a wall.'
The Fly was the first single release from Achtung Baby and marked the arrival of a distinctive new sound and approach. Harnessing hip-hop and industrial beats and distorted vocals, Bono famously called the track 'the sound of four men chopping down The Joshua Tree.' The Fly flew to the top of mainstream charts around the world and became a huge alternative radio hit.
Writing of the song originated at Hansa Studios in Berlin in 1990, a demo which later became the b-side release 'Lady With The Spinning Head'. But it was in a subsequent recording session in Ireland that engineer Flood produced the sonic twist that was to become The Fly. 'One day, Flood had a different look in his eye. It started to feel good. We recorded The Fly. Edge's guitar sound was literally like a fly had broken into your brain and was buzzing around.' (Bono)
The song and accompanying video also gave birth to the character of The Fly, the leather-clad, bug-eyed rock star who would join the band for the ZOO TV Tour. The song, said Rolling Stone, features 'grinding riffs that bounce off Adam Clayton's thick bass line and echo and embellish Larry Mullen Jr.'s drumming'. The critic in the New York Times said the track was an example of how it 'sounds as if [the band] has taken Bo Diddley and James Brown lessons for its new syncopated dance songs'.