This is a really good point (dug this up from an old thread about SOI)

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restofit

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If I may offer my opinion...

I disagree with the people who are saying they feel the album is "overproduced." That's a word that gets thrown around frequently (not here, necessarily; I'm too new to the forum to know that--but online in general), usually to connote "overly polished." Those are two different things.

If anything, my issue with SoI was that it was somewhat under-produced. For example, Every Breaking Wave, Volcano and California sound quite thin production-wise. On these particular tracks, it feels like U2 tried to get back to a real "band" sound. Many songs feature what sounds like one guitar, bass, drums and maybe a keyboard part or two plus a couple of tracks of vocals. That should be exciting; I know a lot of former fans who have been clamoring for this for well over a decade now. Instead, though, the record sounds a little flat and uninspired, partly because slick production doesn't necessarily complement a minimalist approach. The reason U2's 80s and 90s records worked so well is that the production helped to make mountains out of molehills. The Joshua Tree, for example, is a pretty sparse record, but the way it was tracked and mixed really benefited it in that every single element seems to exist to bolster the next. Mostly it was smooth, but some rough edges were allowed to remain. And as Bono put it at the time, U2 was very much a four-legged table. Everyone's contributions were meaningful.

But the last few records, and SoI in particular, seem to suffer from a situation where U2 as a band and their production team(s) simply show up to lay down songs, but nobody is overly concerned with making them sonically interesting. I can't speak for everyone, but I feel that oftentimes, our favorite records resonate with us deeply because the production matches the material. U2's rhythm section, being solid and workmanlike but never particularly elaborate, doesn't benefit from a boring-assed OneRepublic-style sheen. It just flattens out their dynamics, which is part of what makes them a unique band.

If the band are going to split up production duties among 2 to 5 hired guns anyway, then perhaps they should hire the best person for each job. For example having say.. Butch Vig produce the rhythm section--or maybe the entire song, in the case of an uptempo rocker--would certainly lend some girth and liveliness to that side of the material, which would (one hopes) force Edge, Bono, and whatever producer(s) they opted to bring in to dig deeper and push harder to really deliver the goods on whatever vibe they're trying to conjure. Hell, record Larry and Adam to tape. Get great, one-take live performances, and don't edit them any more than is necessary. Take risks again.

I really think what this band needs to do is to just indulge their own instincts and not worry about what's happening in the pop charts. It's okay that they let the broader culture influence what they're doing, but it shouldn't be the ultimate decider. Trying to write a hit record as a 45+ year-old white dude is, at this point in history, a fool's errand. They are inherently unable to access the heart of the present youth culture, and that's as it should be. That's not to say they couldn't have another big hit, but it seems to me that it's far more likely to occur with recorded material that sounds like everyone is invested and committed to it, as opposed to material that merely sounds competently designed to compete in today's marketplace.

TL;DR: I actually do like SoI. I just think it would have been better if it had been produced creatively instead of effectively.

I find this comment bang on, particularly the point highlighting how SOI proves that slick production doesn't compliment a minimalist approach, which is what makes songs like Every Breaking Wave, California and Volcano, feel kind of flat and uninspired because it felt like the band were going for a 4 people playing in a room approach but they then proceed to put so much effort into polishing up the final mix and ironing out the kinks and rough-edges that you have this sort of division where the production is in contradiction with the feel U2 were going for in the first place!

I would prefer that these songs were made in the way that U2 did in the 90's, when they had the approach to create more-from-less. They laid down the foundations of the song, kept the raw and organic sound from what they recorded and then added all the additional effects later on.

(instead of putting lot's effort into trying to polish up the rough edges and making the final mix sound as clean as possible)

"The reason U2's 80s and 90s records worked so well is that the production helped to make mountains out of molehills."

I like that full, luscious production from tracks from 'POP' such as Do You Feel Loved, Discoteque, Mofo, where the production is dense and full but the sound isn't smoothened-out and polished to feel more comfortable for the ears and that rawness isn't ironed-out - in contrast to what we got with many songs on SOI such as EBW, Volcano, California etc..


« Last Edit: June 05, 2020, 01:07:02 AM by restofit »

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Zoo adam

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SOI is a latter day classic from U2.

Production is fine. The songs need to be good in the first place.

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restofit

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SOI is a latter day classic from U2.

Production is fine. The songs need to be good in the first place.

This is kind of how I feel about - except the other way around.

The songwriting is for the most part very strong, it's just that the production on songs like Miracle, EBW, Volcano, California, Raised By Wolves (this one is mixed terribly), is so flat and polished that it distracts you from the strength of the songwriting. (IMO this is the main reason I feel why SOI is so overlooked by die-hards, the songwriting on SOI is exceptionally strong and close to on-par with The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby, but the production strips it of that 'wholeness' that that is present on records like UF, JT and AB, and consequently the album tends to slip lower down people's rankings.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2020, 09:36:26 PM by restofit »

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Cheese and Onions

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So here is a third opinion: think songwriting is good to excellent and production is very good to excellent, too.

Regarding the reception of the SOI album by the casual listener and the fan: actually the main argument for both listener groups is the same, its very simple and it has been said a thousand times before.

Time has moved on, personal and public attention and perception has shifted, ... (you can define and add many more of these types of arguments by yourself) ...

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Zoo adam

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SOI is a latter day classic from U2.

Production is fine. The songs need to be good in the first place.

This is kind of how I feel about - except the other way around.

The songwriting is for the most part very strong, it's just that the production on songs like Miracle, EBW, Volcano, California, Raised By Wolves (this one is mixed terribly), is so flat and polished that it distracts you from the strength of the songwriting. (IMO this is the main reason I feel why SOI is so overlooked by die-hards, the songwriting on SOI is exceptionally strong and close to on-par with The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby, but the production strips it of that 'wholeness' that that is present on records like UF, JT and AB, and consequently the album tends to slip lower down people's rankings.

Sometimes depends on how you listen. Found the production clearer when listening to it on my phone.

Always liked the production on Bomb.

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restofit

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SOI is a latter day classic from U2.

Production is fine. The songs need to be good in the first place.

This is kind of how I feel about - except the other way around.

The songwriting is for the most part very strong, it's just that the production on songs like Miracle, EBW, Volcano, California, Raised By Wolves (this one is mixed terribly), is so flat and polished that it distracts you from the strength of the songwriting. (IMO this is the main reason I feel why SOI is so overlooked by die-hards, the songwriting on SOI is exceptionally strong and close to on-par with The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby, but the production strips it of that 'wholeness' that that is present on records like UF, JT and AB, and consequently the album tends to slip lower down people's rankings.

Sometimes depends on how you listen. Found the production clearer when listening to it on my phone.

Always liked the production on Bomb.

That can make a difference, Bomb for example sounds much better on vinyl.

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restofit

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There's one track on SOI where the production put no foot wrong and that's SLABT.

Sleep Like A Baby Tonight captures the essence of U2 at it's rawest and most potent. I think it worked better with just one engineer and producer. Man I love this track - fun fact they revived this song for SOI from the 'POP' sessions. I think back then it was called 'won't you be my baby tonight' or something like that..

The Kraftwerk-like synth and the grating guitars, the song is given heaps of room to simmer and fester, the last minute or so harkens back to the sparseness and loungey atmosphere from 'If You Wear That Velvet Dress'.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2020, 08:24:41 PM by restofit »

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MPare1966

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There's one track on SOI where the production put no foot wrong and that's SLABT.

Sleep Like A Baby Tonight captures the essence of U2 at it's rawest and most potent. I think it worked better with just one engineer and producer. Man I love this track - fun fact they revived this song for SOI from the 'POP' sessions. I think back then it was called 'won't you be my baby tonight' or something like that..

The Kraftwerk-like synth and the grating guitars, the song is given heaps of room to simmer and fester, the last minute or so harkens back to the sparseness and loungey atmosphere from 'If You Wear That Velvet Dress'.

The demo from the Pop sessions was called Shes Gonna Sleep Like a Baby Tonight
First Chair. Last Call.

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restofit

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There's one track on SOI where the production put no foot wrong and that's SLABT.

Sleep Like A Baby Tonight captures the essence of U2 at it's rawest and most potent. I think it worked better with just one engineer and producer. Man I love this track - fun fact they revived this song for SOI from the 'POP' sessions. I think back then it was called 'won't you be my baby tonight' or something like that..

The Kraftwerk-like synth and the grating guitars, the song is given heaps of room to simmer and fester, the last minute or so harkens back to the sparseness and loungey atmosphere from 'If You Wear That Velvet Dress'.

The demo from the Pop sessions was called Shes Gonna Sleep Like a Baby Tonight

That's the one, also that reminds me how City Of Blinding Lights originated from POP sessions as well, I think it went by the name 'Scott Walker' back then.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2020, 09:11:58 PM by restofit »