Road test then record

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an tha

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Road test then record
« on: June 02, 2020, 08:04:51 PM »
Was reading an old thread elsewhere where the conversation turned to u2 trying different approaches to future albums....these points genuinely intrigued me as ideas and i thought they would make for interesting discussion here....

A clearly very smart poster raised this point:

The very best thing u2 could do for any new record is lay off the production and polish.

Play and record live and keep it simple as a 3 piece band and a singer. Then add in the fills the way they do live and leave it.

It is night and day how different attempts at rock songs sound on their post Pop albums and when played live..... the live stuff is so much better, rawer, heavier and more urgent - they bury those elements on record.

Then for the less rock songs lay off the pop sheen.

Turn Larry and Adam up in the mix as well and job done.

U2's albums post Pop are just too frigging nice sonically and by nice I mean soft...and betray these so called or aimed for rock and punk roots.

Stripping it all back production wise will allow the bands strengths to shine more.


This led to a really interesting reply that built on that original point and introduced the idea of working on the songs, then taking them out and playing them live before going back to the studio and recording them using what they have learned about the songs live:

I totally agree with the above. I'd be interested to see what an album would sound like if they recorded it in the traditional way they've been doing it for the last few albums.  Then just try to figure out how the song works live for several months.  Then re-record the songs with what makes them sound great live.  And then add in the whathaveyous later.

I always think of the Hallelujah version of "Walk On" which was on U2-7 (or whatever it was) as an example.  It sounds so much more vibrant and hard-hitting (to me) than the album version.  They took what worked live and put it in a recording.


I like this idea of road testing them then going back and recording a lot and think it could yield good results....u2 often see songs take on a 'better' form/they seem to 'find' them live and taking them out live then coming back and recording with what the live experience has done for the songs could be interesting.

In that original thread a poster made a similar observation:

I agree with you both. I think that road-testing the songs, learning to play them as a band, and then going back to record them before overlaying minimal synths, etc, is something we haven't heard for a long time. Not that the studio effects are not great - see Pop, Achtung Baby, etc - but the band has certainly over-done it for fifteen years now. It's time to try something different. And haven't there been noises about such an approach from the band? (Adam talking about playing for the fans, etc.)


Thoughts?
« Last Edit: June 02, 2020, 08:08:33 PM by an tha »

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The Edges Cat

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Re: Road test then record
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2020, 08:13:57 PM »
Isn't this how they already do it? They often record songs preempting how they can play them live?
The Edge: “[Eno] would love to see us making albums a bit more like [Zooropa]. Where we go, ‘You know what? We’re not going to second-guess any of this. Let’s just go for it.’”

U2 Fans: We'd all love to see that, Edge.

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an tha

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Re: Road test then record
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2020, 08:29:20 PM »
Isn't this how they already do it? They often record songs preempting how they can play them live?

I've never known them work up say an album full of songs then take them on the road for a couple of months or so then go and record them using the live performances to inform the recordings.

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WookieeWarrior

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Re: Road test then record
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2020, 08:41:07 PM »
I like this approach. R.E.M. did something similar for New Adventures in Hi-Fi, one of their best post-I.R.S. albums.

U2's problem isn't studio per se, just how it's used. Achtung Baby showcased deliberately imperfect production for Zoo Station, with its tinny drums and distorted elements. Innocence and Experience, on the other hand, have such an inoffensive sound. The low end is not only low in the mix on those records but overwhelmingly "clean". I want to hear more mud in the mix.

If U2 wrote the way an tha proposes they do and returned to the studio for other effects, I think we could get an interesting mixture of grungy and electronic textures.

Lyrically, I'm not sure if Bono improves with this method. Less tinkering seems best for the band overall, but a change of subject matter is also integral.

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an tha

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Re: Road test then record
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2020, 08:51:45 PM »
Good point about the lyrics, Wookiee - a really sticky area IMO.

New ground and away from the usual lanes would be possibly a good idea.

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The Edges Cat

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Re: Road test then record
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2020, 09:13:36 PM »
They did this with a heap of songs. North Star, Every Breaking Wave, Mercy. Glastonbury. A whole record? They'd never do it.
The Edge: “[Eno] would love to see us making albums a bit more like [Zooropa]. Where we go, ‘You know what? We’re not going to second-guess any of this. Let’s just go for it.’”

U2 Fans: We'd all love to see that, Edge.

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restofit

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Re: Road test then record
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2020, 10:11:22 PM »
Steve Lillywhite has often said that U2 should take their completed songs from each album on tour and then re-record them once again after reconstructing them in a live setting. It's the final stage in the evolution of a U2 song, listen to how different the Blackout sounds live compared to on record.

« Last Edit: June 02, 2020, 10:17:29 PM by restofit »

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The Edges Cat

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Re: Road test then record
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2020, 10:30:47 PM »
Steve Lillywhite has often said that U2 should take their completed songs from each album on tour and then re-record them once again after reconstructing them in a live setting. It's the final stage in the evolution of a U2 song, listen to how different the Blackout sounds live compared to on record.

I volunteer to be their test audience.
The Edge: “[Eno] would love to see us making albums a bit more like [Zooropa]. Where we go, ‘You know what? We’re not going to second-guess any of this. Let’s just go for it.’”

U2 Fans: We'd all love to see that, Edge.

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So Cruel

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Re: Road test then record
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2020, 12:50:24 AM »
The problem is Bono has this notion now that a great song is in the 3 minute pop structure. Pretty telling when the band was being interviewed a few years back and Bono felt that Streets and Bad were lacking and he’d like to rewrite the lyrics. The interviewer’s jaw dropped. He was talking about how incomplete Elvis Presley and America is and Edge chimed in how he likes that one.

Bono doesn’t write like the Beatles wrote or the Bee Gees. He’s not really a great pop writer but he’s chasing it like the Holy Grail.
Definitive U2 Top 10: 1. One, 2. Bad, 3. With Or Without You, 4. Running to Stand Still, 5. So Cruel, 6. Ultraviolet, 7. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, 8. Hawkmoon 269, 9. Red Hill Mining Town, 10. Luminous Times

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The Edges Cat

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Re: Road test then record
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2020, 01:01:23 AM »
The Edge too, So Cruel. Read the full quote my signature is from.
The Edge: “[Eno] would love to see us making albums a bit more like [Zooropa]. Where we go, ‘You know what? We’re not going to second-guess any of this. Let’s just go for it.’”

U2 Fans: We'd all love to see that, Edge.

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financeguy1

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Re: Road test then record
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2020, 08:33:55 AM »
Bono doesn’t write like the Beatles wrote or the Bee Gees. He’s not really a great pop writer but he’s chasing it like the Holy Grail.

Spot on.

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Alphane

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Re: Road test then record
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2020, 03:27:17 PM »
I wouldn't mind seeing them pull a New Adventures in Hi-Fi, recording on the road and using takes from sound checks as actual album recordings. That might help capture some of that "in the moment" energy that seems to be lost once they hit the studio.

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an tha

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Re: Road test then record
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2020, 03:31:29 PM »
Ban the pro tools as well

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The Edges Cat

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Re: Road test then record
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2020, 09:25:24 PM »
Zooropa. Recorded on tour. Didn’t second guess anything. They were younger men though, and had fire in their bellies from being at the very top.
The Edge: “[Eno] would love to see us making albums a bit more like [Zooropa]. Where we go, ‘You know what? We’re not going to second-guess any of this. Let’s just go for it.’”

U2 Fans: We'd all love to see that, Edge.

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achtungx

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Re: Road test then record
« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2020, 10:13:19 PM »
Zooropa. Recorded on tour. Didn’t second guess anything. They were younger men though, and had fire in their bellies from being at the very top.

Now they are fat, past it, and coasting. :)
I saw Gloria live. Even if I never see the band live again, at least I saw Gloria live. :)