Customer Reviews: The Best Of 1980-1990
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on June 9, 2009
Let me first be absolutely clear--I'm not a fan of 'Best of's for the true fan of an artist of band. Let me be absolutely clear about something else--I've never been a U2 fan. I don't turn them off when they're on the radio, but in over 25 years of buying music, I never felt compelled to purchase one of their records.

Until now.

This collection is perfect for what I call 'the Radio Fan.' This is a person not concerned with the genesis of a project, or of how an album fits together, or of hearing the chronological progression of a band's sound. It's simply U2's best known tracks from the 80s, presented, seemingly, in order of popularity rather than chronologically or with an eye to an overall aesthetic for the album. It's a 15-song sampling of the group during those years, and for those of us who never really cared about them beyond what we heard on the radio or saw on MTV (oh, for the days when they played videos!), this collection is just about perfect.

Highlights include...well, just about the whole thing, since it's a "Best of," but my personal favorites are "Sunday, Bloody Sunday," and Pride (In the Name of Love)." Both songs are infectious with that distinctive U2 chime and Bono's just-short-of-a-breakdown histrionic vocals. Good, catchy stuff.

There's absolutely nothing here for the true fan of U2--no B-sides, no alternate takes, no remixes, no demos. Just those radio songs that people like me remember fondly.

So, for the true fan who owns all the albums and sets--0 stars.

For the Radio Fans of the band--5 stars.

Recommended for nostalgic children of the 80s.
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on December 2, 2002
For the casual fan, this is a fairly good collection of U2 singles from the 1980s. If you would like to explore this era further, I recommend the following records (in order of priority): (1) 'The Joshua Tree' (1987); (2) 'Under a Blood Red Sky' (1983); (3) 'Rattle & Hum' (1988); (4) 'War' (1983); and (5) 'The Unforgettable Fire' (1984).
For the diehard fans, it should be noted that there are a few glaring omissions here (see "*" below), including no singles from 'October' (1981) (only the hidden track at the very end - "October"). Second, with this running order, the songs don't seem to fit together. That said, I would have included the following (in roughly chronological order, which sounds suprisingly coherent):
*1. "11 'O Clock Tick Tock" (4:30)
2. "I Will Follow" (3:31)
*3. "Gloria" (4:13)
4. "New Year's Day" (5:38)
*5. "Two Hearts Beat As One" (4:03)
6. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (4:38)
7. "Pride (in the Name of Love)" (3:51)
8. "The Unforgettable Fire" (4:56)
9. "Bad" (5:50)
10. "With or Without You" (4:56)
11. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (4:37)
12. "Where the Streets Have No Name" (5:36)
*13. "In God's Country" (2:57)
14. "Desire" (2:58)
15. "Angel of Harlem" (3:31)
16. "When Love Comes to Town" (4:17)
17. "All I Want Is You" [Single Edit] (4:40)
18. "Sweetest Thing" [Single Mix] (3:03)
All of these songs would have fit on a single CD (clocking in at less than 78 minutes) and would have represented a more comprehensive and coherent compilation of the 1980s. Those tracks added would be gems like the pre-LP 1980 single "11 'O Clock Tick Tock" (which was included in the live set throughout the 1980s), "Gloria" (the best single from the 'October'), "Two Hearts Beat As One" (one of their best early pop songs from 'War'), and 'In God's Country' (a successful single from 'The Joshua Tree' and a nice segway into 'Rattle & Hum' material, which was so acutely inspired by American music).
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on February 15, 2000
I'd like to summarize the objections other people have to this compilation, while adding one of my own that (amazingly) no one else has mentioned yet. First of all, I have no problem with U2 cutting off this compilation at 1990 like others do; post-Achtung Baby U2 is a remarkably different band, and those songs would've sounded jarring here. Furthermore, there simply wouldn't have been enough room to include hits from Achtung Baby, Zooropa, and Pop along with the early stuff - the later period work deserves a compilation of its own.

What I completely object to is the foolishness of the track selection here and the length of the CD. Of the four songs from Rattle And Hum, only two ("Desire," "All I Want Is You") should have been here (although tastes will differ), while their early career is grossly neglected. One song from Boy, possibly their best album? No songs from October except a hidden track? (Have they disowned this album?) Only two from their big breakthrough War? Meanwhile, let me repeat: FOUR from Rattle And Hum? Among the MIA tracks (all of which are important milestones, not merely personal favorites) are "Out Of Control," "11 O'Clock Tick Tock," "Gloria," "Two Hearts Beat As One," (an ENORMOUS hit single, no less) and "A Sort Of Homecoming."

Unlike everyone else here, I don't mind the "edits" on this disc; they were the single edits, and that's why they're on this CD. What truly makes this an obscene ripoff is the fact that it's only 60 MINUTES LONG! Yes! They could've put up to 20 more minutes worth here, but simply decided not to. Why? All those songs I mentioned above? They WOULD HAVE FIT! There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever, in this age of 80 minute CD running times, for not filling this disc out completely. It's simply infuriating, and it almost makes me wonder if the record company is bilking us intentionally to make sure we still buy the individual albums.

What's more, the sequencing is problematic; if they're going to mix up songs and eras for dramatic effect, fine - I actually prefer that approach to most "greatest hits" discs because I like the idea of a compilation that's sequenced for flow - but if that was the idea, then why are all the Rattle And Hum tracks bunched together at the end?

In the end, this just wasn't thought out well, which is supremely disappointing, as it could have been a truly definitive compilation. As it is, the music is (mostly) marvelous, but you'll be left feeling strangely incomplete if you know what was left unsaid.
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on December 23, 2005
If you already have any of U2's CDs from the 80's, I wouldn't bother buying this. If you don't though, this is a pretty good place to start. I'd probably recommend just saving up your money and buying all their 80's CD's instead, since all of them are great. This best of CD doesn't completely fill the disc, has edited versions of "New Year's Day" and "Where The Streets Have No Name," and "When Love Comes To Town" isn't a very good song. The compilation isn't perfect or anything, but it still isn't too bad. I just gave it a 5 star rating because it turned me into a fan. After I listened to all of their songs off the albums, I ended up just making my own best of cd. This is what it looks like.

1. I Will Follow

2. A Day Without Me

3. Into The Heart

4. Gloria

5. October

6. Sunday Bloody Sunday

7. New Year's Day "edited version, so one more would fit"

8. Two Hearts Beat As One

9. A Sort of Homecoming

10. Pride

11. The Unforgettable Fire

12. Where The Streets Have No Name

13. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

14. With Or Without You

15. Red Hill Mining Town "This is probably the most underated song from The Joshua Tree, but it's the best one!"

16. Desire

17. Angel Of Harlem

18. All I Want Is You

19. The Sweetest Thing "single remix"

It fills the disc over 79 minutes and it gives a way better representation of the them! ...Oh yeah, I wouldn't bother buying U2's Best of 1990-2000. It's put together even worse. I'd just get Achtung Baby and download the song "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" instead.
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on October 20, 2000
This record has the essentials for the non-hardcore fan of U2 in the 1980s. The only singles that are truly missed are "Gloria" from 'October', "Two Hearts Beat As One" from 'War', and "In God's Country" from 'The Joshua Tree'; but for the sake of fitting everything on one CD, the choices of tunes in this collection are well-calculated. Also, a fan merely looking for a best of collection will probably not be phased by the fact that some of the songs appear here in an edited version ("New Years' Day" and "Where the Streets Have No Name") or that a superior live version of a track has been overlooked (compare the version of "Bad" on here with the version on 'Wide Awake in America').
For those who want to expand their 80s-era U2 collections beyond the "Best of", I recommend (in order of quality): (1) 'The Joshua Tree'; (2) 'War'; (3) 'Rattle & Hum'; and (4) 'The Unforgettable Fire'.
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on August 27, 1999
There seems to be a lot of controversy over this one--I had no idea anyone could hate it. Personally, I liked it, but it may not be the best compilation--especially for die hard fans from the '80s. I think it was sadly missing "In God's Country" (it should've replaced "When Love Comes to Town"), which was truly one of my favorites, but the Joshua Tree songs seemed to be already dominating this album. By the way, to all you former U2-lovers who have become bitter and cynical: despite what you think, U2's magic lives on, Achtung was great (and even Pop wasn't bad), so stop trashing, and I'm sorry you hated Rattle and Hum so much. True it wasn't their best (especially not "When Love Comes to Town", which should not be on the best of, because it's not in the best in any way), but the live recordings of "Van Diemen's Land", "Angel of Harlem", and especially "Pride" were awesome. Get over yourselves and stop living in the past. One of U2's best assets is their ability to constantly re-invent themselves and change with the times (or set the times). Not all their songs are God's gift to rock (especially not the new stuff), but you need to cut some slack. All in all, this album is pretty damn good.
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on January 19, 2005
Well, first of all: to all those freaks whom think this sold out U2 2000 is "back to their roots", you must listen to this seriously. Is there any Bad, any With or Without You, any Sunday Bloody Sunday, any All I Want Is You in their 2000 commercials ?... do I have to say the word ?

Ok, let's go to the compilation. It's fairly good, really...but it lacks something: it's just 65 minutes long. So they could have put 2 more songs on it !!!.

Which songs could have been ?. A hard question, but I think they should have put Gloria ( because there's nothing from October here, except the hidden track after All I Want Is You ) and probably a Joshua Tree one as One Tree Hill, Running To Stand Still or In God's Country.

It's a good compilation anyway, far better than the spoiled "best of" 1990 - 2000.

If you're a casual fan, start with this one plus Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby, Zooropa and Pop. Don't even listen to U2 2000, don't waste your time. Also don't buy The best of 1990 - 2000.
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on January 4, 2001
Rounding up U2's first decade here is the The Best Of 1980 - 1990 and this features all their memorable hits With Or Without You, Pride and other classics of the 80's. Every song here is worthy of its inclusion here but my thoughts are that why have such seminal tracks in their career been omitted such as Two Hearts Beat As One and Gloria which were both hit singles not just album tracks like Bad. I know this has to cater for the whole world and so some songs that were hits in one place and not another have been left out but would it not have been better filling the full 80 minutes of the CD or even adding a second disc to add even more great songs and just to here more of Bono's great voice. Despite some great songs being missing you can't fault what is actually on offer. Pride was that track that pretty much broke them worldwide and sounds as good today as it ever did. With Or Without You is just pure genius and will never go out of fashion as neither will any tracks here. I like Desire as it is just a great tune with good guitars and also Sunday Bloody Sunday which was how the band felt about Ireland's troubles and this is brought across really well in a quite amazing song. If i had to fault the CD i would say When Love Comes To Town doesn't quite live up to the hype and just isn't that good. This would be the only criticism to a great album and also the re-recording of Sweetest Thing is just brilliant. Long live Bono and U2 and all we can hope for is that they continue making quality music until the day they die.
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on February 10, 2008
Part of me can understand why some people hate U2 as passionately as they do. They were (and, if the success of the recent U23D is any indicator, remain) huge. I'll admit even I got burned out on hearing all of their hits a million times a day. And Bono does come off as a bit pompous (especially on Rattle and Hum, the first true failure of their career), though unlike (for example) Mick Jagger, who bought his seventh or eighth house a couple years ago, he does good stuff with his money. Unlike Mick, he puts it where his mouth is. Wait a sec... Mick does. Okay, this has the potential to come out really, really wrong. Never mind. Forget I said that. Back to square one.
But anyway, despite all that I still think U2 is a great band, even though I don't listen to their studio albums all that often, fantastic as War and The Unforgettable Fire and Boy and the Joshua Tree and All That You Can't Leave Behind are. I mean, if I feel like listening to U2 I can just turn on the radio and I'll hear ten of their songs in an hour. This is probably the U2 album I listen to most, because my cousin (cool guy, by the way) is a pretty big U2 fan, and whenever I see him (which is quite often, considering he now only lives twenty minutes away, as opposed to two hours as he used to, even though he had a sweet house back then), we ALWAYS play this and usually spin War or The Joshua Tree (my two favorites) as well. Good times.
But here's the point: If you just want a place to start your U2 collection, it doesn't really get much better than this. I would've liked "Gloria" (from their second album, October, which is decidedly hit-or-miss), but other than that it's got all their significant hits from the '80s, which were great. Oh yeah, I could complain about how "Anh Cat Dubh", "Shadows and Tall Trees", "I Fall Down", "With a Shout", "Seconds", "Two Hearts Beat as One", "Wire", "A Sort of Homecoming", "Running to Stand Still", "One Tree Hill", "Exit", "Hawkmoon 269" and so forth were left off, and there are too many edits. But it does contain the basics - "Where the Streets Have No Names", "Pride (In the Name of Love)", "Sunday Bloody Sunday", "Desire", "I Will Follow", "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", "Bad" and all the others that have made them one of the most imitated bands in recent history. I think my favorite U2 track, contained here, is "New Year's Day", though I also really like "With or Without You".
U2 were great in the '80s, a time when nobody else really was (except for Prince, R.E.M. and Stevie Ray Vaughan, no other new artists really had much going for them). They've got a distinct sound, a solid rhythm section, and the Edge playing some fine guitar. And Bono. Love him or hate him, you have to admit he's been influential. Good band!
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on August 22, 2003
While U2 aren't necessarily my number one favorite band of all time, they are among the greatest rock bands to have ever existed and they are an excellent example of a group that was riding sky high in the 1980s, both commercially and quality-wise, and still kept every bit of their edge throughout the 1990s, even with a slight dip in commercial sales (1997's "Pop" is vastly underrated) but through it all, they have weathered the storm and are still a class act in the dawning years of the 21st century. U2 came out of nowhere with their 1980 debut album "Boy", and built greater and greater success through the mountain climbing that was 1983's "War", the following year's "Unforgettable Fire", their commercial magnum opus, before temporarily imploding with their often misunderstood 1988 live album "Rattle & Hum".
Who can ever forget the unsettling lyrics that made "New Year's Day" a timeless anthem for the dreary winter days or those punching guitars that opened "Pride In The Name Of Love" had forever burned that classic into our memories whether for agonizing torture for those who disliked their music or great memories for those who love this bands music (I fall into the latter category). And then there are those famous anthems "Where The Streets Have No Name", and "With Or Without You" that propelled their 1987 album "The Joshua Tree" to becoming one of the biggest selling albums of all time, and deservedly so.
This 1998 collection chronicles that unforgettable era in their career with 14 tracks from seven of their eight albums during this decade. This album completely ignores 1981's "October" for some odd reason. Besides, some of the songs are shortened, a couple are shortened to a damaging level that it mars some of their punch but they are still very good, just a little inferior to their parent album counterparts. "New Year's Day", "Where The Streets Have No Name" in particular suffers from this. As for the shortening of the original songs though, the versions on here are the single edits that we hear on the radio. It's for these reasons that I recommend their regular 1980s studio albums over this collection as they have even more gems that are left off this collection particularly on "Unforgettable Fire" but I'm totally cool about that as the albums have so many non-single gems that it would be downright impossible to put on this album. This collection, with more songs crammed on here, edits or originals, especially one or two from "October", could've been a lot more complete at around 75+ minutes.
This collection doesn't quite come off as a total cash-in though. There is one `new' song on this collection. That song is "The Sweetest Thing" which is actually a revamped rerecording of one of the 1987 B-Side of the same which can be found on the second disc of the B-Sides editon of this collection which I highly recommend. The version on this CD has a slightly orchestral style and less electric than the original. Both versions are very good in my opinion and it's a toss-up for me on which one's better.
Many seem to have a grudge against the last four tracks on this album. To me, it is quite unfortunate as these last four songs on this CD are very good. "Desire" is a totally funky and highly groovy blend of their trademark sound and some American-style blues rock thrown in giving the song a bit of a Western Stadium Arena atmosphere. The next three songs found U2 experimenting even more with American blues style music. "When Love Comes To Town" is an all out fun ride of a classic with a guest appearance from blues legend B.B. King and it totally works in just about every level. "Angela of Harlem" is a very delightful song with a slightly 1960s sound to it. "All I Want Is You" closes out this collection on a very good note with a very dramatic feel to it that almost forshadows some of the eeriness of "Throwing You Arms Around The World". The gradually grows more dramatic as the orchestra grows more and more intense before it all implodes at around the 6:28 mark. I have to revamp an earlier part of this review as the final track is listed as the final track but there is actually a hidden track that is a very pleasant piano interlude that is actually the title track to their 1981 "October" release so this collection doesn't completely ignore that album. They could've just made the hidden track the fifteenth song on this CD as opposed to hiding it within track 14. This is in my opinion, the biggest flaw to this collection. Quite simply, I totally object to the criticisms that have been flung at these four tracks from "R&H" Maybe I have only been reading negative reviews on them but I personally think that these four tracks from "Rattle and Hum" are very good songs even though they don't quite rank up with the rest of the songs on this CD.
Veteran fans who have or are familiar with U2's original 1980s albums will find little reason to buy this edition of this `best of 1980-1990' collection except for maybe "Sweetest Thing" but the 2-CD edition of this collection is totally worth getting even for those who already have their regular albums as the B-Sides are just as good as their hit singles. This 1 CD edition of this album is more of an introductory album for newbies who want to put their feet into the waters of this bands arc of music or for completists. The B-Sides version I ask that ALL U2 fans buy. This collection has it's flaws with the shortening of several of their songs but not as glaring as those that stymied the 1990-2000 collection. I highly recommend the 2-CD editions of both of these collections although this era in U2's career was much better represented as none of the original songs on here were rerecorded like several songs were on the second hits CD.
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