A, Where the streets have no name, Pride (In The Name Of Love), Bullet The Blue Sky, The Fly, Beautiful Day… in the 40 years since the band released their debut album Boy, there has been a constant flow of go-to U2 anthems built around the unique and creative approach to the guitar from The edge.
But his creativity isn’t limited to epic arena fillers, so we’ve picked five less famous but nonetheless spectacular examples of his talent that are worth checking out or revisiting.
For a player classified by some as a literally repetitive delay merchant, these songs are quite different from each other – U2 in general and The Edge in particular have been underrated over the years for the variety of their production and it is. strange to think that, for example, I Threw A Brick Through A Window and Miami are the work of the same songwriters.
The same depth of field also applies to guitar playing: and I hope this small selection will persuade doubters that there is much more to The Edge’s six-string offerings than the familiar chimes and lag streaks. mega hits.
1. A sort of homecoming
The conflicting theme of the 1983 War album demanded a brutal, stripped-down approach to sonority, exemplified by Sunday Bloody Sunday’s martial snare, shrill arpeggio riff, and dissonant solo.
To avoid being branded as angry protest rockers, the next band, The Unforgettable Fire, teamed up with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, The Edge bought two Korg SDD-3000 digital delay units and they recorded in a spooky castle to consciously explore a more sophisticated sound.
The opening track A Sort Of Homecoming features the release of their new ambient, yet anthemic soundscape: The Edge always obliquely spelled chord progressions with arpeggiated chords, but now they twinkled and twinkled in a flood of delay. and ghostly modulated reverb.
His playing on the track is more energetic and physical than ever: the song’s intro combines muffled string scrapes, feedback edge screams, and quick finger slides through the delay and the song’s main section is enlivened by fiercely strummed sus4 chords and an open chime strings.
The difference from before is on this album, his role has changed to allow him to create layered guitar sounds to create an atmosphere, rather than always offering catchy stand-alone licks that carry the whole song. The result, on A Sort Of Homecoming in particular, is a rich and changeable soundscape that reveals something new with virtually every listen and it’s a big step forward for The Edge as a sonic brain.
2. Love is blindness
Achtung Baby is a loud and belligerent record, but its closing song offers a raw and introspective finale. It was written on piano by Bono and originally intended for Nina Simone, but after playing it together the band decided to keep it to themselves, building their mood around an organ and a throbbing bass sound similar to a tremolo.
Throughout, The Edge punctuates the lyrics with drifting volume surges of modulated distortion, sticking to single notes to create a teary, weeping note effect throughout their repetition.
As for the solo, however, it electrifies the dark atmosphere with a crackling and intense thunderstorm of a guitar solo that comes from a completely different place – it’s gripping, angry and completely at odds with the mood. otherwise sleepwalker of the song.
One of the “muddled” ideas during the session was to distract the musicians during their solos to create less predictable results. “I didn’t like this concept at all,” Edge told The Times. “So I stopped and more or less told them to leave me alone. Then I put down the solo that we ended up using, and it’s one of my favorites.
During the making of the album, the guitarist was in the process of a divorce and maybe it was on his mind when he summoned that sudden outpouring of hurt tremolo picking, recorded with the gritty sound of a little amp: he didn’t. didn’t even get discouraged by breaking a thong. “He just kept playing harder and harder,” Bono recalls. “Another string broke. And he’s got such a light touch, usually he’s so soft. It all left him with a sort of rage.
From small amps and selection of tremolos to monster effects – U2’s 1997 Pop album was an ambitious extension of the experiments of its recent predecessors which saw the band working with producers Flood, Howie B and Steve Osborne to incorporate samples, loops and programs from the world of electronica in the U2 sound.
The album ultimately divided opinion among critics and fans alike, but The Edge at least took the opportunity to explore the new possibilities the framework gave it, including using filtering, looping fragments of its own. sampled guitar and working on new creations such as the mighty dominant sound Vanished.
The setup has been dubbed the “747 sound” for its sonic bloom and jet-like swoosh. Flood described it as a semi-hollowbody Epiphone or a Gretsch in a Korg SDD delay set to high feedback, fed into a Fuzz Face and a second fuzz pedal, with a DigiTech Whammy on its +2 octave setting used for create the manually controlled sweeps: Overall, the guitar part has a range of five octaves. “The way he set it up,” Flood told Guitar Player in 1997, “the guitar starts to react in a controllable way that feels very out of control.”
4. Until the end of the world
U2 has made a few forays into movie soundtrack work over the years. In 1986, The Edge premiered Captive’s mostly instrumental soundtrack, still his only solo album, and in 1995, U2 contributed Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me to the Batman Forever movie soundtrack – the same. year, the whole group collaborated on the Passengers project in 1995 with Brian Eno on Original Soundtracks 1, a series of explorations of “visual music” using soundtracks (mainly) of imaginary films.
After agreeing to provide a song for Wim Wenders’ sci-fi road movie from 1991 until World’s End, The Edge revisited an old demo called Fat Boy with a promising riff from Bono, stuck a capo and launched all the rounds of his considerable arsenal at this.
Bono tells the song from the perspective of Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus, and after a tortured intro by Whammy, Edge responds with an unholy concoction of resonating and distorted arpeggios, octave riffs, harmonics, a Zepp- main riff- esque and a wicked, vengeful solo section that combines piercing high notes with descending string backstage and light fingered legato, enveloped on record by swells of reverse guitar noise. An unusually OTT display of pure heroic guitar, this is one of his most imposing and creative recordings.
5. Unknown caller
Back in the days of No Line On The Horizon in 2009, The Edge had been a savvy production player for decades, and Unknown Caller is a procession of beautifully judged guitar pieces that consist of an expertly crafted rock symphony.
The doubled guitar parts on either side of a stereo mix are a reliable way to create space and depth, and here they provide a great way to hear the individual arpeggiated guitar parts of The Edge resonate with great sound. excellent separation. Subtle acoustic touches are used to accentuate accents, fuzzy single-note lines follow the bassline to create tension and The Edge contrasts timid volume swells with sonorous pinched compressed chord passages for a dynamic effect. .
The song’s solo, which follows a midsection featuring the particular teammates of the French horn and church organ, has been described by longtime guitarist Dallas Schoo as “one of the major solos. Edge in his life – you won’t hear better than that on any other song.
Exceptionally clean and austere for an Edge creation, it was taken entirely from the track’s original demo, a one-take performance created as the group improvises in a temporary studio setup they had created in a rented Riad in Fez, in Morocco.