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Steve Lillywhite says No Line on the Horizon is a failure


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RONAN McGREEVY

 

LEGENDARY U2 producer Steve Lillywhite has saidthe band's latest album No Line on the Horizon did not achieve what itset out to achieve and its relative failure had affected them.

 

Thealbum, released last year, sold a fraction of its predecessors andreceived mostly lukewarm reviews though it did get a five-star ratingin Rolling Stone magazine. Lillywhite, who was its co-producer alongwith Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, said No Line on the Horizon lacked abig song and the North African ambience that it tried to recreate didnot work.

 

"At the end of the day, the public are always rightespecially when you have a platform as big as U2," he said. "Of courseit affects them . They are only human. They put their heart and soulinto everything they do, but the sales were not what they expectedbecause they did not have the one song that ignited peoplesimaginations.

 

"It's a pity because the whole idea of Morocco asa big idea was great. When the big idea for U2 is good, that is whenthey succeed the most, but I don't think the spirit of what they setout to achieve was translated. Something happened that meant it did notcome across on the record."

 

Lillywhite will be one of the starturns at the Hot Press Music Show this weekend at the RDS, the biggestshowcase for the music industry in the country. He will speak on Sundayafternoon on the theme of producer as star. Others taking part over theweekend include Bob Geldof and Louis Walsh along with two GovernmentMinisters, Eamon Ryan and Mary Hanafin, while the artists performinginclude Cathy Davey, Fight Like Apes and Sharon Corr.

 

Lillywhite(55) has been synonymous with U2 from the beginning having produced orco-produced almost all their studio albums. He also produced some ofThe Pogues's best work and his late wife Kirsty McColl's vocal was partof what made Fairytale of New York an all-time classic.

 

Lillywhite described Pogues singer Shane MacGowan as an "underachiever" who knows his best work is behind him.

 

"Shane MacGowan has not recorded a song recently because it wouldn't be any good," he said.

 

"Heis one of the most talented people I've ever met, but he is also anunderachiever. Sometimes such a fantastic natural talent means youdon't have to try so hard. Bono is the biggest overachiever I've evermet. His talent is not inconsiderable, but what sets him so far aheadof everybody else is his determination. "That determination to succeedis overachieving."

 

Warner Music Europe's Irish-born chiefexecutive John Reid will speak at midday today on the crisis in themusic industry. He said rumours of the demise of the record were"greatly exaggerated"

 

"You name an act that can thrive on theinternet and go on and have commercial success and get their music outto millions of people without having a record company behind them?"

 

MrReid said the "three strikes" policy to stop illegal downloading willpave the way for Ireland's first internet access model which wouldallow people to access any music they want for a set fee every month.He anticipated such models would cost between €10 and €15 a month asthey do in other parts of Europe.

 

"When you have got legislationin there and when you have an Internet Service Provider that is goingto charge for music instead of facilitating for free, then we will doit and that is what we are discussing with people like Eircom. I hopeit will be in Ireland within months," he explained.

 

Source: Irish Times dot com

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I think failure is the wrong word here. I don't know that it was my favorite U2 album start to finish, but the magic and strength of MAGNIFICENT, MOMENT OF SURRENDER, UNKNOWN CALLER, CRAZY TONIGHT and BREATHE are undeniable! And I think they did bring the spirit of Morocco to our ears on FEZ BEING BORN. Rock on boys....

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I am so sorry to hear that this is the sentiment toward and outcome of No Line, which I think is an extraordinary album sophisticated in its ideas and rhythms and beautifully inspiring. But it is subtle, and it takes work--intellectually--and I suppose those are not the qualities that define a mass "hit." I have been dismayed that the title track is not even being performed. It is a terrific song, in my opinion.

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Yep, just listened to the title track again. I just CANNOT believe that this song is so unappreciated that it is not even played! It is a fabulous song! The tone and lyrics are so torn and visceral, but also very beautiful, and the background sounds, those that emerge from under the melody, paint such a nuanced and conflicted emotional space. It is really exceptional to my ears.  And it rocks!

 

Please, what is it that others are hearing that make this song not even performance-worthy? Why don't you like it?

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personally i love no line, basically because it shifts sound from behind and bomb. (two albums which i consider to be their weakest albums) ok they have the one or two big hit songs on them, but around the hits of bomb, the other songs are middle of the road songs, meat and potatoes of u2's writing.

 

with no line, they really branched out. and it doesnt contain the big songs, but then is that really a problem? i think if they wanted the album to sell near the 10 million mark, they wouldnt have released the song without a final check of the BIG hit song.

 

get on your boots is probably why copies of the album failed to fly off the shelves. with mixed reaction, they sales of no line were on the cards.

 

ok the album got to number 1 in like 33 countries, but pop got to number one in alot of countries, and now pop songs are void of their setlist. this is how i feel about no line. next tour, probably magnificent and boots might get play, but i can see this as another u2 standards failure.

 

but maybe change of the first single, something like magnificent or no line on the horizon prehaps would have taken the album sales higher.

 

but then i could look as how to dismantle an atomic bomb as a failure. a failure to lift me personally with a mix match of quality and middle of the road so so songs.

 

i feel no line will be a u2 album quickly forgetten about in the future, only for the cd to collect dust in the shops, where more casual fans will go for the big ones. the best off's, 18 singles, joshua tree, achtung baby, all that you can't leave behind and bomb.

 

shame really because i love no line.

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I completely agree, Mac. No Line and Magnificent *are* the BIG SONGS of this album, and they are as large as nearly any that U2 has written. One of these should have been the first released single, I think. I don't know why they opted for the bubble-gum-ish pop of Boots as the show-opener for the album's release. I don't know what the reasoning was behind this, and would like to. But I agree, it damaged the albums debut. Not that it is not a good song...it is. But it is fluff. NL and Magnificent have real emotional meat on them, but still with the large sonic-scapes that keep them from being strictly emotional "art house."

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god knows what the idea was into making the final decision to get on your boots. you would have thought the manager paul mac would have said a commercial suicide idea to release boots as the debut single is a bad idea.

 

unless bono wanted boots to be the debut so badly, he kept going on and on and on.

 

i also remember when they performed their come back at the grammies, the daggers were out already. "bad song" "u2 need to rehearse more" "song failed to connect with audience" it very much reminded me of the whole pop era all over again. with pop they decided to release staring at the sun as the 2nd single, a more trad u2 song, like magnificent (a more trad u2 song) but by the time the 2nd singles were released, the album was getting mixed reviews. after all the hype of both pop and no line (2 of the most underated u2 albums amongst the fans i feel) i can see how the band will look at them both as pushed to the back of the u2 cannon and seen as failures. along with october.

 

yeah i agree, there are big songs on the album, just u2 didnt choose to use them properly.

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A Failure?  Hum...  it just came to my mind that @ 55 you might start loosing your good taste in music...  That's a concern.  U2 is one of the best bands ever, their success is not short lived, it has remained through years and years.  Even our kids are going gaga on them AND their albums...  if that doesn't speak for something then what does?  Their album is great, each one of the songs totally grows on you.  I guess Lillywhite has the right to say what he thinks but I definitely don't agree.  smokin.gif

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Apologies up front for posting this same reply in two threads (Lillywhite and One Nation), but I think there is an overlap in forces between these two topics--entertainment markets and political landscapes.

 

On repugnantly idiotic political strategies and a similar instinct to release Boots over NL or Magnificent:

 

Perhaps the old-school entertainment executives and political strategists, whom I think have much in common, are misreading the modern public. Really, they don't give us very much credit. The political hacks think the only thing we want, can understand and need are vacuous soundbites delivered in rhetorical vocal tones of crass emotional manipulation. Likewise, the entertainment executives may think we will respond to the shallow bubble gum of Boots.

 

Their analysis is, perhaps, rooted in a historical context which is now--suddenly and quickly--coming to pass. A context in which information, entertainment and taste and opinion-making were largely defined in industry vacuums with studios and "thought leaders" holding a monopoly on what the public is exposed to.

 

But now that we have open, global media--enabled by the internet--publics have a greater range of raw material from which to form their tastes and opinions. And the industry and organizational assumptions of the past simply do not hold up any longer.

 

I think people need to stop underestimating our intelligence and sophistication. Not only is this an increasingly ineffective delusion on their part, but it also extremely offensive. And nothing is more alienating than being condescended to.

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I read somewhere that Edge got the idea of Boots as first single... one of the few times our guitar man got a really bad idea.

 

The question in my opinion is: did they really think they could sell 10 million copies, in 2009? Even Lady Gaga, one of the biggest events in the pop industry since Britney Spears, failed to reach those numbers. So what?

 

And releasing this kind of interviews make casual listeners really think "oh, U2's latest album was a huge failure, they're at the end of their career". 4-5 million copies ISN'T a failure! :(

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