Thursday, June 11, 2015

U2 - Wide Awake in America

Yesterday (June 10th) marked the thirtieth anniversary of Wide Awake in America, a four song EP from U2. The record spent twenty-seven weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 37. In the UK, it was not released until October of 1987 where it went to number 11.

Side one consists of two live cuts from the previous album The Unforgettable Fire.

First up is an eight minute long version of "Bad", recorded on November 12th of 1984 at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England. The lyrics speak to the struggles with a heroin addiction. This version became very popular on American album-oriented rock stations; extended cuts like it often gave deejays the time to run to the bathroom, get some coffee or grab a quick smoke.

"A Sort of Homecoming" comes from a live performance at Wembley Arena in London, England, from November 15th of 1984. I actually liked the live version over the studio recording.

Side two consists of the studio recorded B-sides of two singles that had only been released in the UK.

"The Three Sunrises" is up first. I like the bass line on this one along with the multi-layered vocal harmonies. It reminds me a bit of late 60’s pop out of the UK.

"Love Comes Tumbling" is a slower, moodier, more intimate piece. I like the instrumental parts near the end especially.

Back in the mid-80’s, I was not into U2 at all. Giving Wide Awake in America a spin three decades later, I can see this one was really targeted towards their growing fan base in the States that could not get enough of the group. Four song extended-plays were still viable at that time, so why not go for a quick cash grab? Pretty smart of the studio.

For more from U2, click here.


Mark said...

I had this release on cassette. It's no Under a Blood Red Sky, but then again, UABRS is my fave U2 album. On Wide Awake, I gravitated towards the "b" side which contained the two studio songs, in particular the soaring "Three Sunrises."

HERC said...

My roommate at the time bought this record so I did not feel the need to though I did later buy the vinyl and then the CD. One week, twenty-nine Summers ago, my sister's boyfriend's parents asked me to housesit their Foothills home while they all went on vacation to Florida or somewhere. As I was between jobs (and girlfriends) at the time, I agreed to the job, my first housesitting experience, and was surprised to find out that there were no chores attached like most housesitting jobs I had heard about: no animals to feed, plants to water, nothing. They just wanted be to be there in their words "as much as possible". Knowing they had a pool, all I was took my record-playing boombox, my swimsuit and five specially-chosen albums:

In Through The Out Door - Led Zeppelin
Combat Rock - The Clash
Eliminator - ZZ Top
The Swing - INXS
and I borrowed Wide Awake In America - U2

Spent the six and half days alone (I know others would have invited people over, even hosted a party or two), in and out of the pool, and in and out of bed, like a lazy 20 year old lizard, occasionally leaving the house for sustenance. Didn't watch TV or movies, just chilled on the back porch with a spectacular view of the city and played those albums over and over again pretty dang loud.

It was a music bonding experience for sure as each of the albums became all-time favorites that week. The three songs I remember most vividly, with attached memories of gorgeous sunsets and slightly cool monsoon breezes, are Zep's "In The Evening", Clash's "Straight To Hell" and the epic live version of "Bad" from that U2 EP - that song remains one of my Top 5 most played U2 songs all these years later.

The other thing I remember was the triple digit temps all week - worried about the vinyl, I kept each unplayed record safely inside the cool house with the boombox sitting close to the house in the shade. Amazingly, I was using sunscreen back then and no burns were suffered.