U2 would like you to forget a lot of things.
When the band released Best of 1980-1990 back in 1998, they wanted you to forget four Dublin lads barely out of their teens could hardly play their instruments, let alone write music.
Boy? October? What are those?
They’re trying to pull the same stunt again.
With Best of 1990-2000, U2 wants you think they’ve improved upon some of its missteps, learned from its mistakes. But covering up mishaps only serves to shine a harsher light on them.
What’s more? Some of these improvements don’t improve a thing.
No, “Discotechque” was not a shining moment in the band’s history, nor was it a very good single. But it was interesting and certainly something that deserves attention in a career spanning retrospective.
But the “new mix” of the song on Best of 1990-2000 sounds worst than the original. So too with “Numb” — that song was one of U2’s wildest and best moments, which the “new mix” strips of its charms.
Guys, take a lesson from the late-Brandon Tartikoff of NBC — if ain’t broke, don’t fucking fix it.
The problem with being the biggest band in the world is that even when they’re trying to admit their shit does stink, they still act like it doesn’t. What U2 chose to include and exclude shows it still hasn’t found what it’s looking for.
“Gone”, which also sports a “new mix”, has fascinating guitar effects, but it’s no “Elevation”, which didn’t make the cut. “The Fly”, also one of its least successful singles but most interesting moments, is also absent.
U2 did do one thing right — they left “Lemon” off. Man, did that song ever suck.
Like the re-recording of “The Sweetest Thing” before it, the new songs on Best of 1990-2000 — “Electrical Storm” and “The Hands that Built America” — don’t contribute to the continuity of the collection. In fact, they’re not even terribly memorable.
Unwittingly, The Best of 1990-2000 demonstrates U2’s humanity. Even when they’re trying to rewrite history and present itself in the best light possible, they’re still fucking up left and right, doing some things wrong and a lot of things right.
They’re still running on instinct, as they have for the past 20 years. And even if that instinct tells them to hush things up when they shouldn’t, at least they’re following their gut.