The Unforgettable Fire (Island 90231)
Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois ushered in a new era for U2 on this album, which comes flying out of the gate with the splendid "A Sort of Homecoming." Passionate, pleasant, and powerful the beginning of what Larry Mullen Jr. would later call "a musical journey." Not to be confused with Journey A Musical, my one-man tribute to the songs of Journey, done cabaret-style.
"Pride (In the Name of Love)" is one of the big songs of the 80s, and deservedly so. It withstands endless amounts of repeat listens, reaching a musical and lyrical depth uncommon for songs of that era. "Wire" scratches the trademark guitar signature of the Edge across the landscape. "The Unforgettable Fire" brings a dark, rich melody to the forefront, while keeping a firm rhythm in the background.
"Promenade" sounds like the earlier version of U2, but given a clever Eno polish. "4th of July" is a brooding instrumental number again bearing the Eno ambient sound. "Bad", another one of U2's greatest songs, taking up the reins and doesn't let go.
"Indian Summer Sky" is fiery and intense. "Elvis Presley and America" doesn't really display the same inspiration as the rest of the release, but it's not terrible. "MLK" makes a nice closing hymn for the album.
The Unforgettable Fire was a precursor of the hugeness to come for U2, before the bloated irony of the 90s took them away for awhile. Always nice to return to this one, like a favorite high-school haunt or the welcoming arms, in wistful dreams, of your first true love.
Review by Casey Blick