In ’95 U2 got together with a few other artists and put out this interesting idea for a record where they came up with soundtracks for several films. I thought this may be a good place to mention it since it doesn’t get as much attention as the other albums probably. This was in part because it doesn’t have their name on the cover and it didn’t have the commercial singles that the others had. The most well known for this album being a duet they did with an opera singer! Perhaps the most unconventional collaboration they have ever done. I feel this record ranks alongside their other 90s U2 electronic albums. Not a single mediocre song on it.
Parts of it sound like “Achtung Baby” and “Zooropa” but there are some surprises on it as well like the Laurie Anderson sounding “A Different Kind of Blue” and “Ito Okashi” which is sung in Japanese. It seems like this album features more vocals from the rest of the band then the other records. You can hear this in tracks like “One Minute Warning” (which was played in the closing credits to "Ghost in the Shell" a film I talk about alongside a series of other 90s ghost movies here.) When I went to see U2 live they played two songs from this record. I would have loved to hear them play much more especially with a song like “Slug” which I believe would make a good show opener.
I didn’t realize The Edge had one solo album until decades after it came out I thought perhaps a few people didn’t know about this one either. The Edge’s album as also a soundtrack with the difference being Edge’s album had several songs for one movie and this album is for several movies. It was just a surprise to me that the band's first foray into soundtracks came much earlier than I realized.
In an interview looking back the band seems pretty dismissive of this collection but I feel these less commercial tracks are far more interesting than many of their singles that they would put out in the 2000s and beyond. Many of those songs feel like they were trying too hard for chart success to me (Vertigo, The Miracle.) I often prefer the deep cuts on their later records but I like both hits and deep cuts on their 80s, 90s output.
I would love it if they came up with a “Original Soundtracks 2” but moving more in this direction would probably cause them to have to make the change from not selling out giant stadiums anymore and there is no way they would let that happen. It’s too bad. Many bands built good careers fluctuating between commercial and less commercial albums.
When I first posted this review there was a comment that provided some interesting perspective from a fledgling songwriter. I thought I would include it here because I am not a songwriter and don't have quite the same perspective on putting songs together.
"I was so influenced by this when it came out - I never finished any of my song ideas because I was stuck thinking I needed a verse / chorus structure - listening to this really freed me up as far as what I felt I could do. “Always forever now” and “Beach Sequence” have always stuck with me."