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The Best of 1980-1990

U2

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Album Review

Island and U2 realized that longtime fans of the band wouldn't need The Best of 1980-1990. Unlike the proposed Best of 1990-2000, which would likely boast the non-LP "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" and the Passengers' "Miss Sarajevo," 1980-1990 contained nothing but material culled directly from the albums, which didn't exactly entice hardcore followers. So, the label and the band decided to pair the compilation with a collection of the group's B-sides from the '80s, none of which had ever appeared on an album before. For die-hard U2 fans, this is something of a godsend — not necessarily a holy grail, which would have been a complete B-sides collection, including the long-missing early EPs — since many of these tracks have been out of print for years. That's not to say they'll be entirely pleased with what they hear. The B-Sides is wildly uneven, fluctuating between a handful of lost masterpieces ("Spanish Eyes," "Sweetest Thing," "Hallelujah Here She Comes," "Silver and Gold," "A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel," "Trash, Trampoline and the Party Girl"), a momentum-crushing triptych of mediocre karaoke ("Dancing Barefoot," "Everlasting Love," "Unchained Melody"), and formless filler (pretty much everything else). Despite the uneven music, fans will need The B-Sides, not just for the handful of worthy contenders but for its sheer rarity. Not only have the B-sides themselves been difficult to locate, but the disc itself was designed as a collector's item: after the first week of sales, The B-Sides was pulled from the market, and Island shipped only The Best of 1980-1990. Clearly, this was a tactic to raise press awareness and boost sales, but that doesn't mean that fans shouldn't take advantage of its limited release.

Biography

Formed: 1976 in Dublin, Ireland

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Through a combination of zealous righteousness and post-punk experimentalism, U2 became one of the most popular rock & roll bands of the '80s. They were rock & roll crusaders during an era of synthesized pop and heavy metal, equally known for their sweeping sound as for their grandiose statements about politics and religion. The Edge provided the group with a signature sound by creating sweeping sonic landscapes with his heavily processed, echoed guitars. Though the Edge's style wasn't conventional,...
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