The Unforgettable Fire

The Unforgettable Fire

Infobox Album
Name = The Unforgettable Fire
Type = studio
Artist = U2

Released = October 1, 1984
Recorded = MarchAugust 1984
Slane Castle
(Slane, Ireland)
Windmill Lane Studios
(Dublin, Ireland)
Genre = Rock, post-punk
Length = 42:19
Label = Island
Producer = Steve Lillywhite, Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois
Reviews =
*Allmusic Rating|4|5 [ link]
*Robert Christgau (B+) [ link]
*"Q" Rating|5|5 [ link]
*"Rolling Stone" Rating|3|5 [ link]
* Rating|4|5 [ link]
Last album = "Under a Blood Red Sky" (1983)
This album = "The Unforgettable Fire" (1984)
Next album = "Wide Awake in America" (1985)
Misc = Singles
Name = The Unforgettable Fire
Type = studio
single 1 = Pride (In the Name of Love)
single 1 date = November 1984
single 2 = The Unforgettable Fire
single 2 date = April 1985

"The Unforgettable Fire" is the fourth studio album by Irish rock band U2, released in 1984. Far more ambient and abstract than the hard-hitting "War", it was at the time the band’s most marked change in direction,Parra, Pimm Jal de la "U2 Live: A Concert Documentary", pp.52-55, 1996, Harper Collins Publishers, ISBN 0-7322-6036-1] featuring atmospheric sounds and lyrics Bono has described as "sketches". The album contains tributes to Martin Luther King Jr. and Elvis Presley. "The Unforgettable Fire" produced the band's biggest hit at the time, "Pride (In the Name of Love)", as well as the live favorite "Bad", a song about heroin addiction. The album was the group's first collaboration with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois.


The band feared that following the overt rock of the "War" album and tour, they were in danger of becoming another "shrill", "sloganeering arena-rock band".cite journal | last =Pond | first =Steve | authorlink = | coauthors = | title =The Joshua Tree Album Review | journal =Rolling Stone | volume = | issue = | pages = | publisher = | date =1987-04-09 | url = | doi = | id = | accessdate = ] The success of the "Under a Blood Red Sky" album and video, however, had given them artistic—and for the first time—financial room to move. Thus, rather than become another formula band, experimentation was sought.cite book| last = Graham| first = Bill| coauthors = can Oosten de Beer, Caroline| title = U2: The Complete Guide to their Music| publisher = Omnibus Press| date = 2004| location = London| pages = p.21| id = ISBN 0-7119-9886-8] As Adam Clayton recalls, "We were looking for something that was a bit more serious, more arty."McCormick (2006), p.147] The Edge admired the ambient and "weird works" of Brian Eno, who along with his engineer Daniel Lanois eventually agreed to produce the record. Island Records boss Chris Blackwell initially tried to discourage them from their choice of producers, believing that just when the band were about to achieve the highest levels of success, Eno would "bury them under a layer of avant-garde nonsense". [McCormick (2006), p.151] The initial recording sessions were at Slane Castle, County Meath; held in a Gothic ballroom built specially for music, the sessions had a relaxed and experimental atmosphere.cite book| last = Stokes| first = Niall| title = Into The Heart: The Story Behind Every U2 Song| publisher = HarperCollins"Publishers"| date = 1996| location = Australia| pages = pp.50-51| id = ISBN 0-7322-6036-1]

We knew the world was ready to receive the heirs to The Who. All we had to do was to keep doing what we were doing and we would become the biggest band since Led Zeppelin, without a doubt. But something just didn't feel right. We felt we had more dimension than just the next big anything, we had something unique to offer. The innovation was what would suffer if we went down the standard rock route. We were looking for another feeling.

Bono on "The Unforgettable Fire's" new direction. [McCormick (2006), p.147]

The album was completed at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin and was released on 1 October 1984. The album took its name and much of its inspiration from an exhibition of paintings and drawings at The Peace Museum in Chicago by survivors of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. [McCormick (2006), p.151] The museum also had an exhibit on Martin Luther King, Jr.Fact|date=June 2007 A far more atmospheric album than the previous "War", "The Unforgettable Fire" has a rich and orchestrated sound and was the first U2 album with a cohesive sound. Under Lanois' direction, Larry's drumming became looser, funkier and more subtle, and Adam's bass became more subliminal, such that the rhythm section no longer intruded, but flowed in support of the songs.

The album's lyrics are open to many interpretations, which alongside its atmospheric sounds, provides what the band often called a "very visual feel". Bono had recently been immersing himself in fiction, philosophy and poetry, and came to realise that his song writing mission—which up to that point had been a reluctant one on his behalf—was a poetic one. The last two weeks of recording, however, were a panicked scramble to finish the lyrics, such that Bono felt songs like "Bad" and "Pride In The Name of Love" were left as incomplete "sketches".McCormick (2006), p.151] Bono later said that "The Unforgettable Fire" was a beautifully out-of-focus record, blurred like an impressionist painting, very unlike a billboard or an advertising slogan." [ [ | Discography ] ]

Typical of the album, "The Unforgettable Fire" track, with a string arrangement by Noel Kelehan, has a rich, symphonic sound built from ambient guitar and driving rhythm; a lyrical "sketch" that is an "emotional travelogue" with a "heartfelt sense of yearning".cite book| last = Stokes| first = Niall| title = Into The Heart: The Story Behind Every U2 Song| publisher = HarperCollins"Publishers"| date = 1996| location = Australia| pages = pp.55| id = ISBN 0-7322-6036-1] Bono tried to describe the rush and then come down of heroin use in the song "Bad".McCormick (2006), p.152] "Pride (In the Name of Love)", the song closest to the established U2 sound at that time, is about Martin Luther King. The first single from the album, it was at that point the band's biggest hit. It cracked the UK Top 5 and the U.S. Top 40 and would ultimately become the group's second-most frequently played song in concerts. [ [ All songs U2 played without snippets - U2 on tour ] ] The sparse, dreamlike "MLK" was also a eulogy to King.

"Elvis Presley and America" is a bumbling improvisation (based on a slowed-down backing track from "A Sort of Homecoming") that takes the album's emphasis on feeling over clarity to its furthest extreme. Another song, "Indian Summer Sky", was a social commentary on the prison-like atmosphere of city living in a world of natural forces.Fact|date=June 2007

Contrary to expectation, the castle depicted on the cover is not Slane, but Moydrum Castle. [ [ U2: - Geography FAQ ] ]

The Unforgettable Fire Tour and Live Aid

The Unforgettable Fire Tour saw U2 shows moving into indoor arenas in the United States, although in Europe they were not quite there yet. The tour commenced in Australia in September 1984 where translating the complex textures of the new studio-recorded tracks to live performance proved a serious challenge. One solution was programmed sequencers, which the band until then had been reluctant to use. They were used to overcome difficulties in live performance of sonically elaborate new songs such as "The Unforgettable Fire" and "Bad"; since then sequencers are now used on the majority of U2 songs in performance. Songs criticised as being "unfinished", "fuzzy" and "unfocused" on the album, made more sense on stage. Rolling Stone, for example, critical of the album version of "Bad", described its live performance as a 'show stopper'. [cite journal | last =Henke | first =James | authorlink = | coauthors = | title ="Wide Awake in America" Album Review | journal =Rolling Stone | volume = | issue = | pages = | publisher = | date =1985-07-18 | url = | doi = | id = | accessdate = ]

U2 participated in the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium for Ethiopian famine relief in July 1985. [ [ Live Aid: A Look Back At A Concert That Actually Changed The World] Retrieved 31 October, 2006.] U2's performance was one of the show's most memorable; during the song "Bad", Bono leapt down off the stage to embrace and dance with a fan. Initially thinking they'd "blown it", it was, in fact, a breakthrough moment for the band, showing a television audience of millions the personal connection that Bono could make with audiences. [Parra (2003), pp. 72-73] In 1985, "Rolling Stone" magazine called U2 the "Band of the 80's," saying that "for a growing number of rock-and-roll fans, U2 have become the band that matters most, maybe even the only band that matters." [ [ U2, the Only Band that Mattered in the '80s?] Retrieved 31 January 2007] As a more unlikely endorsement, Miles Davis is reputed to have asked the album to be played while on his deathbed.Fact|date=April 2007

Track listing

all_writing = U2, with lyrics by Bono
total_length = 42:19

title1 = A Sort of Homecoming
length1 = 5:28

title2 = Pride (In the Name of Love) ()
length2 = 3:48

title3 = Wire
length3 = 4:19

title4 = The Unforgettable Fire
length4 = 4:55

title5 = Promenade
length5 = 2:35

title6 = 4th of July
length6 = 2:12

title7 = Bad
length7 = 6:09

title8 = Indian Summer Sky
length8 = 4:17

title9 = Elvis Presley and America
length9 = 6:23

title10 = MLK
length10 = 2:31

"Pride (In the Name of Love)" and the title track "The Unforgettable Fire" were released as singles to support the album.

In 1995, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab remastered the album and released it as a special gold CD. This edition has slightly different running times, most notably an extended 2:39 version of the instrumental "4th of July".

In 1985, the band also released the supplementary "Wide Awake in America" EP, which offers live performances of "Bad" and "A Sort of Homecoming" along with a twoB-sides (previously unavailable in North America).

Chart positions and sales




*Bonolead vocals
*The Edgeguitar, keyboards, vocals
*Adam Claytonbass
*Larry Mullen Jr.drums

Additional personnel

*Brian Eno - additional vocals, instruments, treatments, production, engineering
*Daniel Lanois - additional vocals, instruments, treatments, production, engineering


Infobox album
Name = The Unforgettable Fire Collection
Type = video
Artist = U2

Released = 1985
Recorded = 19841985
Genre = Rock
Length = 51:00
Label = Island, PolyGram, Columbia
Director = Meiert Avis, Barry Deviln, Donald Cammell
Producer = James Morris
Reviews =
Last album = ""
This album = "The Unforgettable Fire Collection"
Next album = "Achtung Baby"
After the album's release in 1984, U2 released "The Unforgettable Fire Collection", a VHS compilation of the album's music videos with a 30-minute making-of documentary of the album. The documentary was later included as a bonus feature on the band's live video release, "".

Track listing

#"The Unforgettable Fire" – directed by Meiert Avis
#"Bad" – directed by Barry Devilin
#"Pride (In the Name of Love)" – directed By Donald Cammell
#"A Sort Of Homecoming" – directed by Barry Devlin
#"The Making of the Unforgettable Fire" documentary – directed by Barry Devlin

ee also

*U2 discography


External links

* [ "The Unforgettable Fire"] at U2 Wanderer, with comprehensive details on various editions, cover scans, lyrics, and more
* [ "The Unforgettable Fire" (video)] at U2 Wanderer
* [ Lyrics]
* [ Quotes and background on each song]
* [ Fan interpretations and interview excerpts for each song]
* [ "The Unforgettable Fire" painting exhibit] with images from a couple of prints
* [ Another description of "The Unforgettable Fire" exhibit]

succession box
before = "Tonight" by David Bowie
title = UK number one album
years = October 13 1984October 26 1984
after = "Steeltown" by Big Country
succession box
before = "Born in the U.S.A." by Bruce Springsteen
title = Australian Kent Music Report number-one album
years = October 29 1984November 4 1984
after = "Red Sails in the Sunset" by Midnight Oil

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