Songs Of Surrender: U2 present old songs with a new sound

No, U2 fans need not worry.

Songs Of Surrender: U2 present old songs with a new sound

No, U2 fans need not worry. Speculations that the legendary Irish band is on the verge of collapse were recently clearly rejected by guitarist The Edge. "It would be very difficult to disband U2 simply because it works so well for all of us," the 61-year-old told Britain's Telegraph. "Whenever I think about quitting, I kind of reinvent U2."

For their new album, U2 have reinvented their own songs, so to speak. "We were curious what it would be like to bring our early songs with us into the present," The Edge said in a PR statement. The guitarist curated the mammoth work "Songs Of Surrender" (release March 17). "What started as an experiment quickly became a personal obsession as so many of our songs have been reinterpreted."

A total of 40 songs - world hits, fan favorites and not so well-known tracks - U2 have re-recorded, uncovered and partly changed in such a way that they get a completely different atmosphere, effect and meaning. Not only arrangements, tempo and sometimes the key are new, in some places even the lyrics have been overhauled.

The 90s hit "One" gets additional weight as a melancholy piano ballad. "Where The Streets Have No Name" is carried without the driving rhythm only by an ambient-like carpet of sound. The once so powerful "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses", "Pride" or "Sunday Bloody Sunday" become campfire ballads.

Piano and synthesizer dominate

Larry Mullen, who will not be attending the upcoming U2 concert series in Las Vegas due to health reasons, doesn't have much to do on the album as a drummer. Adam Clayton's bass can also only be heard sparsely, because piano and synthesizer dominate. Even the guitar sound moves into the background, like on "Electrical Storm".

"Walk On" was a song about Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who fell out of international favor after the Rohingya genocide. With new lyrics, "Walk On (Ukraine)" is an anti-war anthem for Ukraine and effectively a different song. In the first line, Bono refers to the Ukrainian president - and former TV comedian - Volodymyr Zelenskyi: "When the comedian enters the stage and no one laughs..." Later, a children's choir joins in.

"Like Bono Singing in Your Ear"

An important goal was to "bring more intimacy into the songs," The Edge said in the "Telegraph" interview, "as if Bono were singing in your ear". This has worked extremely well for many songs. The sound is so direct and approachable that when you listen to it you really get the feeling that the singer is standing in the same room.

For "Songs Of Surrender" U2 worked together again with longtime companions like Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois ("Achtung Baby") - and with producer legend Bob Ezrin (Kiss, Alice Cooper). The 73-year-old, who has Pink Floyd's "The Wall" in his vita, was reportedly instrumental in the selection of the songs and the arrangements.

The album cover features photos of Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen when they were younger. "Songs Of Surrender" appears in several formats and is divided into four CDs or LPs in the complete edition as a box. However, Mullen and Clayton were probably a little less involved in this project than usual.

The changes are not so drastic with all new recordings. The rock banger "Vertigo" is mostly "unplugged" - Bono's voice, cello and acoustic guitar. "Bad" from "The Unforgettable Fire" or the hit single "With Or Without You" from the mega album "The Joshua Tree", although sung a little differently and with a new climax, are not as far removed from the original as other tracks on "Songs Of Surrender ".

Bono in good voice

You have to smile a little with "Desire", which frontman Bono consistently sings with falsetto. Why shouldn't the often serious U2 have a little fun with a project like this? By the way, the 62-year-old Bono convinces with a great voice - the intimacy of the sound makes it all the more noticeable. "He knows better now how to use his voice as a tool of interpretation," says The Edge. "It comes with experience."

It is incomprehensible that the still relatively new album "Songs Of Innocence" from 2014 is represented the most in the selection with five songs - ahead of great classics such as "The Joshua Tree", "Achtung Baby" (four tracks each) and "War " (three). Probably nobody was waiting for updates of "Song For Someone" or "Cedarwood Road", which were already released as acoustic versions.

"We've allowed ourselves to shed all reverence for our originals," The Edge told The Telegraph -- a prerequisite for new recordings to even have any justification. It's just a shame that many of the new versions are wonderful on their own, but the 40 tracks in a row are so similar in style that "Songs Of Surrender" can seem a bit monotonous after a while.

Then you might catch yourself wanting to play the old and not so old U2 classics again - or to stream them. The originals remain unsurpassed. Resting on their past, however, is not an option for the Irish superstars. In the "Telegraph" The Edge revealed that he is already working on new music - in the classic U2 band sound with lots of guitars, bass and drums.