At the end of the year I recovered one of the albums I was influenced most when I was a teenager, Achtung Baby, which also meant the starting signal for me to get involved with rock. Sure you remember. Whenever I reckon its influence in my evolution people react quite surprised, because U2 is the typical band someone like me usually hates. I belong to this group of haters, even though this album and Zooropa are the exceptions. I simply find them magnificent. I must admit there are also certain hit singles which are impressive.
Zooropa meant the aftermath of Achtung Baby. The impact of this album had been overwhelming without precedent, and together with the Zoo TV Tour, U2 achieved their target: to shock the world. An excess of music, effects, information, concepts, inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Thus, this new album was like the hangover after a great party full of excesses, not as pretentious and ambitious as its predecessor, yet keeping in the same path, in terms of sound stimulation. The meaning of Zooropa could be compared to the reconstruction of the divided continent, the settlement of the new direction the band had started with Achtung Baby. At the end of the day this album was conceived on tour and parts recorded during a break between the two legs of the world tour, thus it keeps the essence and all that avant-garde spirit.
When the album was released in July 1993 (Damn! Almost 20 years ago, I’m too old) I embraced it warmly, with great expectations, and even though it sounded more experimental, yet less intense and crazy, first impression was alright. I assumed it was too difficult to deliver an album as outstanding as Achtung Baby, so I took it as it came. From London, by the way. My parents were there on holidays and bought me the album and a Zooropa XL tee, which is probably stuffed in a box somewhere at their house.
First listening approached me to the singles, which initially were the easiest to assimilate. Thus, the classic Lemon, the beautiful Stay (Faraway, So Close!), and the catchy Babyface became my favorite.
Even though I listened to this album intensely for a reasonable period of time, I must admit it didn’t have the same effect on me as Achtung Baby. Perhaps I shouldn’t relate nor compare one to each other so much, but considering my limited access to music, in that time close albums from certain bands were like Siamese, in the sense that mentally I was unable to separate them, as in the case of the two first albums by Pearl Jam, or the 2 volumes of Use Your Illusion.
Anyway, the real appreciation of this album has been something developed through the years, and little by little this album has become more and more appealing. From the epic Zooropa, to Bono’s incredible falsettos in Numb while The Edge is reciting a list of Do’s and Don’ts, the noisy (and super Bowie) Daddy’s Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car, Some Days or the dark Dirty Day to wonderful Johnny Cash singing The Wanderer to finish the trip into Zooropa. At the end of the day you realize this album is super solid, well arranged and organized, keeping the intensity leveled throughout the 51 minutes.
It’s a real pity they sold their souls to the unbearable mainstream and to Bono’s delusions of grandeur. U2 are still able to deliver amazing singles, but their albums are not at the same level as these two. Too focused into the visual and the show, looking for turning the screw a bit more to shock the world, they finally made me lose the interest. Sad.