What is it with the BBC and U2?
When the last U2 album came out they had a whole week of programming dedicated to them, that didn’t stop the single from limping into the bottom end of the charts and the album being met with a shrug of the shoulders,
On Sunday night BBC’s ‘Imagine’ has a documentary on the making of U2’s ‘Achtung Baby’ in Berlin. The album was made in 1990 with the backdrop of the turmoil of the collapse of communism and end of the Berlin and the film is making much of this. Talk of band in turmoil going to the city. Its the usual stuff, historic cultural moment, a time when everything changed and, oh the collapse of the eastern bloc in there as well.
It’s exactly this sort of huffing and puffing that makes U2 such an awkward band to feel any love for. Unlike the Beatles who were hugely influential and whose history mirrors the sixties, unlike the Clash and punk which changed so much, U2 changed nothing, they sold millions of records, wrote the odd good song and always seemed to want to mesh themselves in with the times. N 1990 they went to Berlin to record an album, it was an ok record that nicked lots of bits of the Roses and Mondays (bands that really connected with people) and some indie dance like andy Wetherall’s supreme remix of My Bloody Valentine and reworked them through committee into a new U2 sound.
It was certainly better than their po-faced appropriation of American blues, it was even fun in parts and gave the band a new lease of life but was it a key album? Was it the music that reflected Berlin at the time? Was it the key cutting edge record of it’s time? nope. It was a well observed take on better, younger groups and sold millions in an exercise of good marketing…
The documentary already sounds full of a gravitas and seriousity that does a disservice to the people that stood up against the grey faced ogres that had stomped on the people full of years, I dearly hope they don’t make U2 out to be rock n roll che Guevaras who flew in to save everybody…
The documentary is followed by another U2 advert, I mean film, one that shows their gig in Glastonbury this year. The gig was a bit of a stiff and a disappointment to many, the band were caught frozen in the spotlight and seemed out of place in a way that Coldplay, a band I don’t really listen to, didn’t in a way that the Coldplay performance didn’t. Where Coldplay seemed to be having the time of their lives U2 were grimly hanging on.
I wonder if they will show the tax protest in the audience at Glastonbury, when protestors mounted a demo against the U2 tax situation.The endless rumours of the band who call for decreasing world debt having their taz affairs shifted from Ireland to Holland….the protestors were thrown out of the festival in a very un Glastonbury kind of way and U2 have still not answered the allegations…avoiding the issue like the skilled political operators they have become, if the tax rumor is dirty talk then please say, I would rather believe U2 were the good guys who stood for good things and not a big corporate music organization and not the scurrilous talk but that rumor just won’t go away.