Passengers (u2 Related Group) - Original Soundtracks 1 - Cd
U2 should be celebrated for doing what so few major rock bands have managed: They broke the chains of their own stardom. For a while it looked like they'd carry the "monsters of rock" banner into institutionalized and calcified dotage like the Who and Pink Floyd before them. But with 1991's Achtung Baby
--and even more so on '93's Zooropa
--U2 made clear they'd not become so alienated from artistic motivation that they believed more in their own importance than in their continued ability to create. Thus they stopped waving flags and learned to laugh at their fame. The change, in effect, released U2 from its own image and allowed the band more creative elbowroom than ever before. Only in this context could U2 now allow their producer Brian Eno to assume virtual membership in the band, adopt the pseudonym Passengers, and immerse themselves in the anonymity of film music.
With Original Soundtracks 1, a collection of 14 compositions for imagined movies (and one performance piece), U2 accentuate the visual sense. Eno, who's done this sort of thing for decades, plays a defining role. Tracks like "United Colours" and "One Minute Warning," with their electronic pulsations and organic atmospherics, clearly fall onto his ambient/techno terrain. Even tracks more recognizably the band's are enriched by collaboration: The hilarious "Elvis Ate America" is even more absurd with Howie B's scratching and vocal calls, and the touching "Miss Sarajevo" is made infinitely more profound by Luciano Pavarotti's tenor. Passengers is more likely an inspired tangent than an indication of U2's direction, but it adds to the band's impressive--and constantly progressive--body of work. --Roni Sarig