E2 U2 Discography
Title: Outside Broadcast
Recorded: USA, 1992
Run Time: 70:15 minutes
- Until The End Of The World
- Even Better Than the Real Thing
- Mysterious Ways
- The Fly
- Trying To Throw Your Arms Around The World
- Satellite Of Love (Lou Reed)
- Bullit The Blue Sky (sic)
- Where The Streets Have No Name
- Running To stand Still
- Can't Help Falling in Love
"The medium is the message!"
I remember seeing a film of one of U2's Zooropa concerts on Channel 4 TV back in the early 90's.So impressed with the whole Marshall McLuhan/"hype is its own reward" approach. The Zoo TV stage was dominated by a huge television screen which flickered and flashed a stream of random clips from whatever satellite TV stations were pulled down from the ether that night. This was interspersed with a near-subliminal flurry of slogans and truisms which only made sense because you barely had time to dissemble one before the next one flashed mometarily across your retinas.The razing of the Berlin wall was still fresh in peoples' minds and here were U2, celebrating consumer culture by prancing around on a huge stage with QVC and TV evangelists as backdrop, all illuminated by a lighting rig made from several of the infamous East German 'Trabant' motor cars.
"Welcome to democracy - you've made the right choice!
On to the music, then. First off, I should state that Outside Broadcast is, as far as I'm aware, a bootleg recording. It comprises 'straight from the mixing desk' recordings from the North American leg of the band's Zoo TV tour and a fair amount of offline studio work. I read that the album was assembled from what was originally a promo CD that 'fell into the wrong hands'. The sound quality is exemplarary throughout.
In The Beginning There Was "Zoo Radio"
opens with clips from "Zoo Radio", a mythical radio show hosted by "King Boogaloo" BP Fallon
. 'BP' is a real-life Irish media guru
who worked with U2
at the time and who I think it's reasonable to assume is one of the influences behind the style of Zoo TV
. Bursts of static
and sound bites
set the tone for what's to come. BP
converse with Bono
through an entryphone
as the latter tries to gain entry to the studio
...Despite Bono's assertions that he's "the lead vocalist; the LV", he's rudely interrupted as the station announcer cuts in to describe what's coming up next. This mixes seamlessly into the guitar intro of the Until The End Of The World, a very powerful first musical track, with Bono's vocals and The Edge's guitar defintely to the fore.
"Is this Rock 'N' Roll?"
Following on from "End of the World", the 'BP' briefly interviews the band who explain Zoo TV interms of media convergence - Television as a substitute for real life.
Cut to Bono
as he introduces another strong track, Even Better than the Real Thing
"Now you haven't come all the way out here to watch TV now, have ya?
The track ends and cuts back from the audience cheering to Zoo Radio, where the discussion on hype and manipulation of the media turns to Madonna. and her recently-published book: "Sex" Everybody was talking about this book, including, it appears, U2, who discuss the photographs therein whilst a wobbly "Je T'aime" plays in the background. The discussion leads in to the third musical track: Mysterious Ways.
All three tracks so far originate from the 1991 album Achtung Baby. In my opinion, they're all top tracks that really translated well to live performance. "Even Better than The Real Thing" indeed.
Next up: The Fly. In addition to being another top-notch track from Achtung Baby, The Fly is one of Bono's alter egos. The track is preceeded by a small pastiche in the syle of a "Pathe News" newsreel on the mating habits of the common fly.
"Television - The Drug of the Nation "
A short piece on how the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy influenced U2 culminates with a short rap from the duo themselves. No prizes for guessing that the next track is also from Achtung Baby. An outstanding live version of One takes the musical pace of Outside Broadcast down a gear. Following this, the band explain the different themes that are adopted during the live performances of Zoo TV.
The track following on from One is in keeping with it in the sense that it is a slower-paced song that is also taken from Achtung Baby: Trying To Throw Your Arms Around The World. It's a good enough performance here, but not my favourite Achtung Baby track.
"Zoo Radio - a more-or-less adequate substitute for a visit to a concert or a dancehall"
The band talk about one of their other influences: Lou Reed. Snippets of various Lou Reed tracks set the scene as the next track, Satellite of Love is explained. I distinctly remember Satellite of Love from the TV programme I mentioned earlier. Frankly, I didn't like it - I don't much care for the song itself and seeing a recorded head and shoulders video of Lou Reed, projected onto the huge TV backdrop as he 'duets' with Bono. Lou Reed looked like a cross between Keith Richards and 1984's 'Big Brother' - but when he sang, he sounded like a pub singer! Not my favourite track, obviously!
Next, another Zoo Radio segment uses news coverage sound bites as an introduction to Public Enemy. They talk and rap briefly before handing back to our host BP. Bono expands upon the influences both musical and non-musical, that have influenced him and the rest of the band. Bullet The Sky, from 1990's The Joshua Tree follows and is notable for Edge's extravagant guitar work - very Hendrix-esque and very impressive. A good performance by all concerned here.
Another short interview segment has the band briefly travelling back down memory lane to their origins. "Those were the days" tales of how they made a guitar from a floor mop and a 32-channel mixing desk from egg boxes and sellotape lead into a second Joshua Tree track, Where The Streets Have No Name. Bono really works this crowd-pleaser and it's a good enough arrangement.
We cut back to Zoo Radio where U2 dispense their opinions on rock and roll and how it all came about. Yes, boys - we're all rock and roll rebels at heart, aren't we? Running To stand Still is up next and the subtle arrangement provides a good showcase for Bono's vocal talents. As the song closes, we switch back to Zoo Radio once more. Bono talks about Elvis Presley and his interpretation of Can't Help Falling In Love. He pays homage to his hero, 'The King', with a sensitive, acoustic rendition of this song.
In summary, then, Outside Broadcast is a humorous insight into the U2's personalities and influences and a technically-excellent snapshot of their live performances during the early 90's. I know it's a cliche but if you only have one U2 album in your record collection, definitely consider this one.