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All hail the genius that was Passengers


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Below is a review of the finest Album that U2 didn't make!


There are several reasons the U2 and Brian Eno side project - Passengers: Original Soundtracks 1 - is worth picking up. The number one reason isLuciano Pavarotti's contribution to "Miss Sarajevo." The song is one of the best U2 has ever put to tape. Gorgeous. But when the maestro openshis voice it becomes otherworldly. He sings:

Dici che il fiume

Trova la via al mare

E come il fiume

Giungerai a me

Oltre i confini

E le terre assetate

Dici che come il fiume

Come il fiume...

L'amore giungerà


E non so più pregare

E nell'amore non so più sperare

E quell'amore non so più aspettare

[Translation of the above]

You say that the river

finds the way to the sea

and like the river

you will come to me

beyond the borders

and the dry lands

You say that like a river

like a river...

the love will come

the love...

And i don't know how to pray anymore

and in love i don't know how to hope anymore

and for that love i don't know how to wait anymore

There was a Miss Sarajevo beauty pageant. Girls would promenade across the stage as shells exploded in the sky above. The event was absurd but poignant.

Anti-pop songs surround this perfect pop song. U2 gave ambient Eno the reins. He acted as bandleader and producer. He even conjured up fake films for theband to play to. The liner notes include synopses of the real, and fake, films the music supports.

In between the ambient pieces are a few songs that are slightly more traditional. Even with Eno calling the shots, elements of U2 still shine through."Your Blue Room" is a seductive ballad, and a victory for a band that is rarely sexy or seductive. This might be their one chance.

Ambient music is often cold and unemotional. Sequencers, synthesizers and mixers appeal more to the brain than the heart. Brian Eno is a very esoteric,brainy guy, and his influences run rampant across the album. However the human element in each song takes it somewhere special. Pavarotti of course. AnythingThe Edge touches, specifically his organ playing on "Your Blue Room." Bono's quiet vocals. Adam Clayton's big fat bass notes. The stringarrangements are incredible. Craig Armstong arranged "Miss Sarajevo." Paul Barrett arranged "Always Forever Now," one of the ambient-driventracks, but a beautiful one.

Commend U2 for using the 1990s to both embrace and puncture what a rock and roll band should be, not to mention the stuffy history and self-importance ofrock and roll. "Elvis Ate America" is at once a biting satire, and an appreciation, for the king of rock and roll and his absurd life.

This album flew under the radar for casual U2 fans. Only "Miss Sarajevo" has lived on in any capacity. Been to a U2 show in the last decade, youwould think the band took the '90s off after Achtung Baby. That is a shame. When U2 became the alternative to what is on the radio - as they didduring grunge - they are a perfect balance of what makes them a great rock band, as well as what makes them great creative artists. Much of that comes from awillingness to fall flat on their faces. A destination they would soon find themselves with the release of Pop

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