151 of 156 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2011
Okay I'm going to do my best to break down Achtung Baby Super Deluxe Edition.
First, the packaging: The set comes in a nice box that includes 16 LP size cardboard photos from the album sessions. The other part of the set is the book. The book is great with essays by Andrew Mueller, Daniel Lanois, Anton Corbijn, Martin Scholz, Martin Wroe, Brain Eno, and Bill Flanagan. There are also tons of photos and the hand written lyrics to "One". There are also several pages dedicated to the CDs and DVDs in the set with the track listings, times, original release info, etc. The one complaint is all of the CDs and DVDs are actually housed in the inside covers rather then having individual cases (got to get the Uber edition for that).
The Music: Most U2 collectors will have 85% of the music on these 6 discs. There have been some tweeks to Achtung Baby and I think it sounds great. Zooropa appears to be the same mix but is still a great album and I hope it gets its own edition when the time comes. Disc 3 is the first of the re-mix CDs. All have been release before except the final track which is "One (Apollo 440 Remix) which basically adds a new intro, throws some beats in the middle and tags on a new drum ending. That being said, Achtung Baby is an album that really lends itself to remixes but I think Disc 4 is the better of the remix CDs. Again Disc 4 has only one unreleased song. Another remix of "One" again by Apollo 440 but I prefer this "Ambient" mix to the one on Disc 3.
Discs 5 and (especially) 6 are the reasons most are buying the set. Disc 5 has B-Sides and some unreleased songs. The Unreleased songs are mostly from the Achtung Baby sessions. The only one not from the sessions is "Even Better Then the Real Thing (Fish out of Water Remix)". The unreleased songs are "Blow Your House Down" a nice rocker, "Heaven and Hell", a moody song that seems to be Bono riffing with lyrics. "Oh Berlin" kind of a mid-tempo song that feels like the band felt like they had to write a song about the city in which they were recording. "Near the Island" a nice little instrumental which has a real Edge/Eno (even though Eno isn't credited) feel to it. "Down All The Days", this is a really good song that with a little work could have been great. Not sure why it got put away. One of those songs that just builds and builds. Finally there is "Everybody Loves A Winner" a slower song with Bono mostly singing in falsetto and some nice Edge background vocals. The rest of Disc 4 are previously released B-Sides.
Disc 6-Kindergaten: I'd love to go into a song by song review of just this CD. This is a billed as an early version of Achtung Baby or demos from early songs. It feels more like pieced together bits of demos from each song but that is not a bad thing. Some stick fairly close to the original (Zoo Station, One) and some are almost brand new songs (Even Better Then The Real Thing, Trying to Throw Your Arms Around the World). This is a fantastic Disc! It will never replace the original but it is definitely something that will get repeated listens and not just the once over and put away.
The DVD's: The set also includes 4 DVDs. The first is the Documentary "From the Sky Down". While I really enjoy this documentary it seems to have a problem decided if it is a film about the history of U2 or a film about the making of Achtung Baby. I would have preferred more of the behind the scenes from the making of the album. There is one great part though when Bono and The Edge are listening to some of the original sessions a certain song suddenly morphs into another and a huge light bulb goes off...don't want to spoil it for those who haven't seen it but it is one of the best moments caught on tape of the birth of a song.
DVD 2 is a collection of the music videos from Achtung Baby and Zooropa. Some are better then others but it's nice to have them all.
DVD 3 has quite a bit on it. There is Zoo TV Special. Which is sort of but not quite behind the scenes of the ZooTV tour. Basically the concert intercut with some behind the scenes and some ZooTV news updates and other things. The rest of the DVD is comprised of shorts. There is The MTV show "Most Wanted" where a fan won a chance to see a U2 show via satellite from his house. It shows some interviews and music videos but is actually a bit boring. There is also a MTV documentary, U2 on Naked City, and U2 on TV-AM which are all about the same...interview clips, music clips, ZooTV craziness all mashed together. The last documentary is called Trabantland. It's about the small, East German car that is featured in some of the videos and promo photos. It's enjoyable especially after seeing "From the Sky Down" and how the band used to see these cars abandoned daily because their East German drivers made the pilgrimage to Berlin just as the cars gave out. There is also some CD-Rom content on this disc. Wallpapers, Screensavers, and links to websites.
Disc 4 is the ZooTV live in Sydney Concert. I didn't own the video of this (just the CD) so I was glad to add this to my collection. Concert films aren't my favorite things to watch but this was a really great show with a nice set list. I wish they could have cleaned up the video for this release but that may have something to do with how it was originally shot.
Overall this is a 5 star buy for me. Yes I own a lot of the material already but the new items and the packaging (mainly the book) justify double dipping for this release. I hope this review helped. It's my first music review but I wanted to let people know what to expect from this wonderful set.
70 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2001
In a word: staggering. I don't know if I've ever heard an album which can even come close to capturing the kaleidoscope of sheer emotion that floods from these twelve songs. Just as Alice in Chains dragged us to the pitch black depths of heroin-addiction with "Dirt", U2 does the same, only with lost love and heartbreak as the backdrop.
Amidst the gloomy themes of the album, rays of hope still shine through in the form of The Edge's signature effect-soaked licks and some serious head-bobbing rhythm from Clayton and Mullen. The great thing about this album is its accessibility: it literally has it all. Techno/hip-hop/rockers like "Mysterious Ways" and "Even Better Than the Real Thing", and the arena-friendly chorus of "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" will bring a smile to the face of mainstream (and hardcore) U2 fans, while deeper, more experimental fare such as the industrial-tinged "Zoo Station" and the indescribable guitar orgasm of "The Fly" will challenge the listener on their inaugural spins but eventually yield rich rewards. The heart and soul of the album, however, lies in three songs..."One", "Acrobat", and "Love is Blindness". Listening to these in this order under the right circumstances could change a life, rekindle a forgotten passion, or simply reduce the listener to a sobbing heap. They are THAT powerful.
The range of feeling captured in Bono's wailing vocals on "One" is absolutely incredible, especially in the surreal crys that end the song. "Acrobat" dabbles in electronic influences and uses thick sonic brushstrokes to paint a cavernous musical environment that is completely encompassing (and this is before Bono even utters a syllable). The album ends with one of the most bittersweetly-beautiful pieces of music I've ever heard in "Love is Blindness". From the almost gothically-eerie organ intro to the penetrating echoes of Adam Clayton's bassline, the song literally stabs at your soul. And the lyrics are poetic - for example: "Love is clockworks, and cold steel, fingers too numb too feel...squeeze the handle, blow out the candle, love is blindness." Words simply can't describe how perfectly this song captures the agony of loss. You have to hear it for yourself...and that goes for this entire album. Easily U2's best, if not the best of the entire 1990's.
60 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2011
Other reviewers are covering the content and the packaging pretty well. I will mainly comment on the sound quality of the original albums. First, Achtung Baby was remastered. There seems to be some confusion over this, since some reviewers, including those in the music press, claim it wasn't remastered, but that it has only been "boosted," "tweaked," or "polished." Apparently they do not understand that those changes, however slight, are achieved through remastering. That said, I do agree that the changes are pretty subtle, and may not equate to "remastering" as a lot of people understand the term, which is to say, substantial and obvious sonic changes. To my ears, there is a slight increase in gain and presence in the newer Achtung Baby mastering, but it's nothing revelatory. Comparing the tracks of the new and old CDs in a wave editor reveals a slight, but definite, increase in overall loudness on the newer version. Despite that, I have to listen pretty closely to hear the differences. This is not a put-down of the mastering job done for this release; actually, just the opposite. It's nice to see mastering engineers using some restraint and not fixing what isn't broken. So often, it seems engineers feel the need to justify their efforts by making substantial changes, regardless of whether or not those changes need to be made. The original Achtung Baby CD from 1991 already sounded great, which is confirmed by the remastering here. If forced to choose, I would probably go with the newer mastering, but honestly, I don't think the improvements are significant enough to warrant re-purchasing the album, if your only interest is to get updated sound.
Upon first listening, the new Zooropa CD struck me as sounding identical to the original 1993 CD. Based solely on those A/B comparisons, I could not tell the difference between the two CDs. However, viewing the tracks of the old and new CDs in a wave editor reveals some slight differences in certain areas of certain songs, mainly in terms of loudness and dynamics. In listening to those specific areas, I could hear the differences, but only in those specific areas. Elsewhere, the tracks sound identical. Certainly, the differences on Zooropa are more subtle than those on Achtung Baby. Had I not had a visual aid to show me where the differences are, I would not have noticed them. I think under normal listening conditions, the differences will be imperceptible to most listeners.
I gave the package four stars, not because it's not outstanding in its own right, but because there is so much here that most fans already own, which nevertheless contributes to the high cost of the set. As mentioned, the remastering, while good, doesn't really provide much incentive to pony up the cash. The really good stuff in this set - in particular, the "Kindergarten" album and the "From the Sky Down" documentary - is excellent and well worth getting. It just seems a shame to have to pay for such an expensive - and redundant - package in order to obtain the best of what it has to offer. While the set is impressive in its scope, I would have been just as happy - happier, actually - with a pared down set that offered the most important content for a lower price.
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2011
Yes, it's one of the best albums ever recorded. Only U2's Joshua Tree stands next to it by the same artist. And for me, it was and remains a deeply personal record, having been released when I was a freshman in college. I don't think a newer fan can really understand how shocking this record was - how it was the complete opposite of everything U2 stood for, and yet was still them.... But anyway...
I'm reading a few complaints from other raters about the packaging. Yes, the hardcover books for the early albums were lush. But this is true to the original release. When Achtung baby first came out it was a softcover that opened up to four pages. It was as visually shocking as it was aurally. The crappy plastic-box release which came soon after was a travesty, robbing decades of fans of some of the best of the album art. Only now is the original vision restored. This is how Achtung Baby is supposed to look. My only packaging complaint is the MAMMOTH and intrusive FBI warning that seems to take up half of one of the pages. U2 didn't even put their own name there, but the FBI needs that much room? A shame.
I have recently come across a Canadian copy of this 2-disc set. The FBI warning is gone, and instead you have the artwork which the FBI's threat was covering up. Also, the coloring is better on the Canadian copy. It's lighter, and less blurry. It looks exactly like the album did in 1991. If you have a choice, I'd go for the Canadian version of this product.
The album may not have been "remastered" but it has been tweaked. You will hear things you haven't heard before on both discs. There is one new song on disc 2 "Blow Your House Down" and most of the B-sides. Yes, they are all amazing songs and if you missed any of them the first time you missed half of the album. Back in 1991 it was common for bands to release almost another album's worth of material as B-sides. It was a part of the experience. When you first heard The Fly, The Lounge Remix and Alex Descends into Hell for a Bottle of Milk (Written for the play A Clockwork Orange 2000) came along with it.
If you're considering the one disc, pony up the cash for this edition instead. Of course, the Super-box has A LOT more material if you're really into the album. I won't suggest the Uber to anyone simply because, if you're not already SURE you need the Uber - you don't.
Author of Luminous and Ominous
45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
If THE JOSHUA TREE was U2's answer to American music, then ACHTUNG BABY is their answer to their European cousins. Gone are the country'n'western influences of U2's previous two albums, replaced with the cool, sleek danceable rhythms of the Berlin dance clubs. Emotional and hip, sincere and sarcastic, ACHTUNG manages to combine wildly differing styles into one coherent work that ranks with the best albums ever recorded.
From the opening seconds of "Zoo Station", it's clear that this is a radically different U2. Not only is the music drastically changed from the twangy sounds of albums past, but the lyrics are becoming introspective again with a slight tendency for tongue-in-cheek humour at times. Despite the fast rhythms and danceable beat, this is a dark album, perhaps one of the darkest that the band has released. But it's emotion that's been wallpapered over with neon and silver-coloured material. It's angst and pain in a nice techno-flavoured sugar pill.
Again, U2 has created an album that is more than just a combination of great songs. ACHTUNG BABY flows extraordinarily well. Each track adds a lot to the whole while managing to retain individuality. The album is incredibly focused as well, with a great feeling of longing, regret and inaccessibility being maintained for the entirety. This focus is hard for other bands to do, yet something that U2 achieves with surprisingly regularity.
In addition to being an incredibly deep album, it's also an extremely fun one to listen to. The dance beats are amazingly infectious, and Edge's guitar playing has never been better. It's hard to point to any tracks that stand out, since they are all quite exceptional. This is one of the few albums that has no tracks that are just average.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2000
Achtung Baby is really one of those albums that you can just switch off all your other senses for - it has so much going for it musically, with consistently intriguing and moving guitar sounds, powerful bass and drums, and extraordinary vocals, not to mention some pretty good lyrics.
Whatever political aspirations U2 may have with their appeals to fans to support Greenpeace etc., this album is almost entirely devoted to love, and with several listenings, becomes a kind of litany of ballads recited by Bono to his Baby...I am not saying this album has any concept - it is a collection of fantastic independent tracks which really works - but this is an excellent album to listen to when you're feeling down, or soppy, or romantic. Aside from his voice, Bono's most endearing quality is the impression he conveys of true desperation - the climaxes his voice reaches in One or Love is Blindness are particularly moving.
This combination of great musical value with a deep-rooted romantic element really works for me, and clearly works for a lot of other people too - the album has a constantly fresh appeal, and when I look at the great works of the 90's, this sticks out as one of those that will still have appeal in ten, twenty and fifty years time.
One final thought - don't think this is solely a candlelight collection...Zoo Station opens the album brilliantly and unromantically, and The Fly is a chunky song that keeps the momentum of the album going through all the turgid descriptions of unrequited love...even with lyrics like, "a man will fall from the sheer face of love like a fly from a wall"...
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2011
I was really excited about getting this deluxe edition, even though I already have most of the content, because Achtung Baby is, for me, an absolutely perfect album and my favorite ever. The first four CDs weren't anything special for me, since I already own Achtung Baby, Zooropa, and most of the remixes from the Uber and Unter discs (and I'm not that crazy about remixes in general anyway). The 5th disc I was originally disappointed in, because some of the songs clearly have vocals that were recorded recently; the difference in Bono's voice quality and range is obvious. However, it does call itself "B-Sides and Bonus Tracks," so I'm okay with just telling myself that these are the "bonus tracks" and it's fine if they're recent. I haven't gotten all the way through this disc yet, so I'm not sure how much of the material I already own (looks like most but not all), but I'm still happy to have these songs with decent sound quality. The 6th disc, "Kindergarten - the alternative Achtung Baby" is awesome. It was actually what I popped in first, while I was still perusing the book. I love hearing where these great songs came from and other directions they could have taken, although none are as good as the album versions in my opinion. It's a perfect record, how could they make these songs better?)
I've only watched the first of the DVD discs so far, and I loved "From the Sky Down." I've read Bill Flanagan's book "U2 at the End of the World" many times, and I'm glad they didn't gloss over the importance of "One" in really saving the band. My only small complaint with the film was that it might be difficult for viewers who don't know the band members' voices well to tell who was speaking, and at times it was important to know who it was. I didn't have any problems, but a casual viewer might. I already have the ZooTV Live from Sydney DVD, and I sort of wish they had been able to put in DVD of a different show from the tour (Like Live From Dublin in August of '93, maybe--even a high quality soundboard audio recording, which does exist, of this show would have improved the newness of the material), although I doubt many were filmed in enough detail back in those days.
The book is great; mostly images with a few sections of writing from people who know details about the album. I would have appreciated more words added, but again, I guess that's what Bill Flanagan's book is for.
I'm really glad I bought this, and for me it was worth the money, but I do wish there were more things included that the die-hard fan wouldn't already have in their collection.
39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2011
The title of the review sums it up. Achtung Baby is one of my top 5 favorite albums. And, although I'm glad that I bought this reissue, it could have been better. First and foremost, the sound is great. Although I have to say that I really don't detect a ton of difference between this and the original pressing. If you're the odd person that doesn't already own Achtung Baby, it's a no brainer, go out and get it.
However I also have to say that I'm a little disappointed in both the package and the selection of the extra tracks for the standard 2 disc set. The previous cd's in the U2 catalog got a great package of a small hardback book in a slipcase. Great liner notes, lyrics to not only the album, but also some of the bonus content, extra photos from the era...etc. This time it's just a standard fold over case, and the booklet inside is almost no different from the old one.
Now I understand that the amount of material from the sessions would have made it impossible to get everything that I would have loved to have on a 2 cd set, but it seems like all they really did with this set was compile the b-sides. With the exception of Blow Your House Down, all the material on disc 2 is pretty easy to get. They should have used the BSides and Other Stuff disc from the Super Deluxe Box set, there would have still been enough room to add a couple of live cuts...
So, great album, the reissue fall a little short for me in the package and extra tracks. I'd love to have the Super Deluxe Box, but I can't see spending the cash for another copy of Zooropa until it has all it's extras, I already have the DVD of the concert that's included, and I wouldn't watch them that much anyway...The sad thing is, I still hope that they give this reissue treatment it really deserves.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2000
Contrary to popular belief, pop music's high-point of the 90s did not come when grunge ruled the airwaves. It came when U2 released Achtung Baby. This album is filled with moods and colors that not only change the atmosphere of the room, but turn it on its head.
The album's opening track "Zoo Station," is like a subway ride through a sleezy underworld, which is only lit by a glimmer of hope. When Bono croones "Time is a train/ makes the future the past/ leaves you standing in the station/ your face pressed up against the glass," you can feel U2 taking their success from the 80s, and morphing it into the complex and confusing world of the 90s. Other tracks, such as "Until the End of the World," "The Fly," and "So Cruel," are surprising in their despair. This is the same band whose optimism dominated the charts in the 80s? Nonetheless, these songs are captivating, and leave the listener haunted and yet thrilled by the darkness we're all capable of.
But Achtung Baby is not all darkness. "Mysterious Ways" is sensual and spiritual. "Trying to Throw Your Arms Around the World" is full of hope and joy, while "Ultraviolet" embraces the pain of love, and ends up in a spritual place where light and guidance is all that matters.
The lyrics of this album are like a thickly layered Yeats poem, that is always moving and changing as it is spoken. "Until the End of the World" is a moving confessional of Judas, with Jesus himself on the other side of the booth. "The Fly" is a phone call from hell, in which the sinner almost embraces and enjoys their lechery. And then there is the highpoint of the album (and possibly U2's career): the classic "One." So universal in its scope, "One" is about the struggles of a relationship, the trials of surviving AIDS, the difficulty in being yourself, the possibility of unity and peace, all wrapped up into one song. The story goes that U2 was on the verge of breaking up when they started to record this album. Frustrated with reconciling their musical differences, the band embraced the sudden emergence of this song. In the long run, "One" may have saved the band from splitting apart. "One" and Achtung Baby are a grand statement on the complexity of being human. Thank God someone was able to put it into words and set it to music; one listen and everything in the world seems to make sense.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 1999
When I first heard this album I thought it was juat plain horrable. I didn't think it compared to Joshua Tree at all. One morning my brother was playing The Fly and I remember thinking how cool it sounded. I gave the album another chance and I liked it more and more every time I heard it. I now have every U2 album and let me tell you this one is the best. It's better than Joshua Tree, it's better than Best Of 1980-1990, and if they make a Best Of The 90's, Achtung Baby will still be better unless they include every song from it. Zoo Station has an intro anyone could appreciate. Even Better Than The Real Thing is awesome. One is beautiful with some incredible lyrics. Until The End Of The World is good but to fully appreciate it you must understand that the song is about Judas Iscariot's betrayal to Christ(at the begining of the song you can hear nails being hammered symbolizing Christ being nailed to the cross). Who's Ganna Ride Your Wild Horses is great with an awesome chorus. So Cruel is a good song with meaningful lyrics. The Fly is spectacular with the falsetto singing and a really cool guitar solo. Mysterious Ways is a song you can't help but to love. Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World is a nice relaxing tune. Ultraviolet is truly nothing short of incredible. Acrobat is a deep moving song with incredebly uplifting lyrics. Love Is Blindness is a slow sad song with a dramatic ending. This truly is the best album I've ever heard. There isn't one disapointing song. If you don't have it yet than I suggest you go get it right now.