All That You Can't Leave Behind

Record Review by TC Krentz

All is Forgiven, Guys...Sometimes artists attempt to swing their creative selves into a compromising mode in order to “keep with the times”. Few older rockers have been able to remain true to thine own selves like Aerosmith has. After Rattle & Hum, U2 fired up a sonic, overproduced electric glamour look and sound which left their old fans somewhat disheartened.

We thought after “Pop“, their 3rd attempt at exploring this style of music, that we had lost the other Fab Four to the new Millennium forever. Apparently someone took notice of a drop in record & ticket sales and maybe they even opened a fan letter from those of us who loved the simplicity & meaningfulness of “War“, “Boy” & “October“. Whatever happened, it was a beautiful thing which resulted in “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” - their most incredible works since “Joshua Tree.“

This album does not abandon the Brian Eno influence at all, it just finally uses it in moderation.

Beyond reclaiming parts of their old sound, U2’s songwriting basics on this record are a Return to Self. A perfect combination of catchy pop melodies, synth-mixed sounds & sing-a-long lyrics color a set of their most ingenious songs ever written by these 4 old timers.

The reawakening occurs the minute you open the CD jacket to a set of back to basics, black and white, unpretentiousness (whew) photos of the guys.

No shiny, glimmery, poser collages here. As you fondly think back to them in their youthful days of integrity on the War photo shoot in freezing snow, you are welcomed by Beautiful Day, the well deserved Grammy Winner which harkens back to the colorful guitar work and strong vocals we all knew and loved on “Unforgettable Fire”.

The next 6 songs are just as great but probably won’t get the airplay they so deserve. Don’t forget to crack open the CD holder to find a hidden offering of forgiveness from U2; a simply wonderful CD Single called Summer Rain which will help you remember how much you loved them for covering that old Patty Smith song “Dancing Barefoot“ in the late Eighties.

As you study the lyrics, you find that Bono did not sell his soul to the devil after all; he writes an ode to Michael Hutchence’s suicide on “Stuck in a Moment” and dedicated the touching “Walk On” to Amnesty International Poster Child Aung San Suu Kyi.

If music isn’t going to expose and educate us American pop junkies to the dark side of humanity, nothing else will. Bono has always known this and seems to be returning to this mission; which makes you fall back in love with U2 all over again.
Not just the music, but the guys behind the music.