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U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000)

April 4, 2013

[Album 165/1001]U2-all-that-you-cant-leave-behind

“You were loosening my grip on Bobby Orr”
– TTH, Fireworks

When one falls in love and priorities shift, they tend to lose interest in some things and gain a newfound appreciation for others.  For me, over the last 11+ years (holy Toledo!) that has included a vastly expanded cooking repertoire & collection of passport stamps and considerably less time spent watching hockey & listening to U2.

Cause & Effect? Not necessarily, but in U2’s case there’s probably some correlation as my dazzling wife is not a fan.  I can certainly see Bono’s polarizing ability: while his activism may be seen as a tireless by many, for every fan of his vocals, others can find his voice, well, tiresome.

Listening to this album again (for the first time in years), I was impressed by a few things:

– It was the right album at the right time.  U2’s experimentation in the 90s with electronica was noble, if somewhat underwhelming.  This was a return to form.

– What an opening 4-pack: Beautiful Day, Stuck in a Moment…, Elevation, Walk On.  Half-full glasses would spot the continuing tradition of Achtung Baby & The Joshua Tree; U2 knows how to burst out of the gate.  Half-empties would observe the record tapering off from there.

– Few would argue The Edge is the greatest guitarist of all time.  His ability to find exactly the right guitar ‘sound’ for a given song however?  Not many critics there.

– Considering the new meaning of songs like Walk On after September 2001, All That You Can’t Leave Behind may define the first couple years of the 21st Century better than any other record.

Does that confine it to ‘time capsule’ status?  I wouldn’t say so, but I also haven’t been terribly inspired to check out any of their subsequent releases.


From → 2000s

  1. You perfectly encapsulated what’s special about this record. To my ears it’s the last great album they released (so far?), and the opening 4 tracks, as you pointed out, are as good as any starting 4 in their catalog. I became a fan in 1983 when “War” came out, and at various times nearly every one of their albums has been my favorite, including this one. This is also the last time that Bono’s voice retained the same pure quality that he had on all their earlier records. Since then his penchant for smoking…and possibly talking too much…has rendered his voice a little (or a lot) ragged. I hope they surprise me with another classic in the future, but I think “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” will end up being the end of their classic era (which lasted 20+ years, so not bad).

  2. A classic era drifting into 3 decades – that’s definitely nothing to sneeze at! I remember when they re-released the Band Aid single thinking Bono’s voice was sounding a little rough on the “well tonight thank God it’s them…” War, Joshua Tree, and Achtung Baby are also on the list, at the moment Joshua Tree might be my favourite of the bunch, but you’re right, the favourite status can fluctuate!

  3. “- It was the right album at the right time.”

    Absolutely. I didn’t get Pop, at all. I was really sick of the electronic stuff at this time. I was never the biggest U2 fan in the world but like anybody I enjoy the “greatest hits” and the odd album here and there.

    I enjoyed a lot of the singles from this album. They righted the ship at least. It was good. I don’t remember all of it.

    • And that’s this record exactly – enjoyable singles, pleasant but ultimately forgettable second half.

  4. I love U2, especially the older stuff (Boy to Achtung Baby). Funny how I just dropped them like a hot potato after Zooropa…”All that you can’t leave behind” isn’t bad, and it’s in rotation on my iPod, but I’ll take the harsh opening riff of Indian Summer Sky from the Unforgettable Fire over it any day.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. U2 – War (1983) | 1001albumsin10years

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