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U2 hits, reduced to the essentials

U2 hits, reduced to the essentials

“The music allows you to go back in time,” says U2’s guitarist The Edge. “So we wanted to see what it would be like if we took back our early songs and gave them the advantage – or the disadvantage – of a 21st-century reinterpretation.”

The Edge has been the driving force behind U2’s new album, Songs Of Surrender, out March 17. The quartet re-recorded classics like “Where the Streets Have No Name”, “With or Without You” or “Vertigo” and gave them a softer, often purely acoustic look.

“What started as an experience quickly became a personal obsession for me,” says The Edge. “I looked at what our songs sound like when you boil it down to the essentials. In doing so, intimacy replaced a post-punk urgency. This brought new beats and keys, sometimes even new chords and lyrics.”


This down-to-basics works perfectly for some songs, but not all of them. A notable shift is made by “One”, for example, which gets a more exciting atmosphere in the new arrangement with piano, restrained percussion and singer Bono’s voice brought to the fore. It is similar to “All I Want Is You” and “40”.

But often the new arrangement doesn’t make much difference to the feel of the song. And on the delivered versions of “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” the “post-punk stuff” really explodes.

U2 recorded 40 songs for the project and assigned ten songs to each of the four members. In addition to the 4-CD box with 40 tracks, “Songs Of Surrender” will also be released as a standard CD with 16 and as a deluxe edition with 20 tracks.

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The project is the accompanying album to singer Bono’s autobiography, which was published last fall. In the audiobook version of Surrender – 40 Songs, One Story, each of the 40 chapters contained a small excerpt from the song assigned to it.

“Reinterpreting these 40 songs during lockdown gave me a chance to relive them as I wrote memoirs,” says the 62-year-old. “It also allowed me to process something that had been bothering me for a long time. Namely, I felt like some scripts weren’t quite finished. They are now — at least I think so.”

Live without Larry

“Walk On Ukraine”, the remake of “Walk On” from the album “All That You Can’t Leave Behind”, was released by U2 in spring 2022 for the #StandUpForUkraine campaign. It is also rumored that they will be attending a Live Aid-style concert for Ukraine this year on June 24 at London’s Wembley Stadium.

What is certain is that U2 will open the new MSG Sphere Arena at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas with several concerts in the fall. But drummer Larry Mullen couldn’t be there. He has health issues with his neck and elbows, is undergoing surgery and wants to “take time to heal” in 2023.

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