Caare101 Musical Leadership and Awareness – U2

June 15, 2013 at 11:13 pm

U2 caare101

Rather than following War with a similar set of socially conscious anthems, U2 took an unexpected, and somewhat riskier, turn on their next studio album. Splitting with original producer Lilly white, they recorded with the production duo of Brian Eno, the former Roxy Music keyboardist who’d become both an influential solo artist as well as a producer for the likes of David Bowie and Talking Heads; and Canadian engineer/musician Daniel Lanois.

The result of the new partnership was The Unforgettable Fire, whose title was borrowed from an exhibition of paintings created by survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the final days of World War II, which the band members viewed at Chicago’s Peace Museum.

The Unforgettable Fire traded the punchy rock sound of its predecessors for a more experimental approach, emphasizing sustained atmospherics over rockist fireworks. The songs’ arrangements emphasized the growing nuance and subtlety of the Edge’s guitar work, whose distinctive textures enhanced the songs’ cinematic qualities.

Lyrically, the album was largely inspired by the band’s experiences traveling in America, surveying the gap between the country’s idealized mythology and its reality. The collection produced U2′s first U.S. Top Forty single in “(Pride) In the Name of Love,” a stirring tribute to slain 1960s civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. whose anthemic chorus contrasted the subtle sound that dominated the album. The Unforgettable Fire also yielded a significant live showpiece in the six-minute “Bad,” which poignantly addressed the issue of heroin addiction, a growing problem in the band’s home country.

Despite its less overtly accessible direction, The Unforgettable Fire duplicated War’s sales success, entering the U.S. Top Ten after its release in October 1984. U2 supported The Unforgettable Fire with a massively successful world tour that spawned another live EP, Wide Awake in America.

In late 1984, Bob Geldof, the habitually outspoken lead singer of Ireland’s Boomtown Rats, was moved by television news coverage of famine in Ethiopia to create a benefit project to help address the desperate situation. The result was Band Aid, whose seasonal single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” offered a historic assemblage of some of the British pop world’s biggest names. Bono was prominent among the all-star supergroup, which also included Sting, Boy George, Phil Collins, Paul McCartney, George Michael, Paul Weller, and Paul Young.

Rush-released in time for the 1984 Christmas season, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” topped the pop charts on both sides of the Atlantic, selling over 50 million copies worldwide. Geldof then raised the stakes by staging Live Aid, an all-star transatlantic concert spectacle, on July 13, 1985, at London’s Wembley Stadium and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, which was simulcast around the globe to raise even more funds for the cause.

Not surprisingly, U2 was one of the first acts to sign on for the concerts. Performing at Wembley—an outdoor venue far larger than those in which the band was used to performing—the band kicked off its abbreviated seventeen-minute set with a rousing “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and continued with an extended “Bad” that interspersed portions of the Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” and “Sympathy for the Devil” and Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love” and “Walk on the Wild Side.” During that medley, Bono took a spontaneous leap off the stage into the photographers’ pit in order to dance with a female fan. While the stunt cost the group the time to do its planned third number, “New Year’s Day,” it drove the Wembley crowd into a frenzy.

If there had been any doubt previously, their Live Aid performance offi-cially served notice of U2′s new status as a world-class band. For a band that specialized in big gestures while maintaining an intimate connection with its fans, it was a perfect coming-out party.

In the autumn of 1985, U2 once again joined Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats, along with Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, and several Irish acts, for another high-profile benefit concert. The Dublin show, dubbed Self Aid For Ireland, was designed to raise awareness of that country’s dire unemployment situation.

Also in 1985, Bono became a part of Artists United Against Apartheid, a benefit project organized by E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt to resist South Africa’s brutal system of racial segregation. Bono quickly wrote a new original song, “Silver and Gold,” for the album, and recorded it with help from Rolling Stones guitarists Keith Richards and Ron Wood.

In the summer of 1986, U2 joined the Conspiracy of Hope, a series of six stadium concerts across America to raise funds and awareness for Amnesty International, an esteemed organization that works to draw attention to the plight of political prisoners around the world. Others on the rotating Conspiracy of Hope bill included the Police, Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed, Joan Baez, and the Neville Brothers. For their Conspiracy of Hope performances, U2 did something they hadn’t done since their early Dublin days. They added cover material—namely, the Beatles’ “Help,” Bob Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm,” and Eddie Cochran’s “C’mon Everybody”—to their set list.

The tour, which began on June 4, climaxed eleven days later with a live MTV broadcast from New Jersey’s Giants Stadium. The day before, the members of U2 attended an anti-apartheid rally in New York’s Central Park, where they joined Van Zandt onstage to perform “Sun City,” the main song from the Artists United Against Apartheid album.

In March 1985, four months before U2′s breakthrough performance at Live Aid, Rolling Stone—a reliable indicator of mainstream American tastes—featured U2 on its cover, accompanied by a headline anointing the group “Our Choice: Band of the ’80s.”