Monday, November 20, 2006

U2 released their U218 Singles collection


A Retrospective: 1980-2006


The rock group U2 formed in Dublin, Ireland in 1976. They met while students at Dublin’s Mount Temple High School. In Joel Whitburn’s Rock Tracks 1981-2020, they are ranked as the #4 modern rock act and #5 album rock act of all time. “Through a combination of zealous righteousness and post-punk experimentalism, U2 became one of the most popular rock & roll bands of the ‘80s. Equally known for their sweeping sound as for their grandiose statements about politics and religion, U2 were rock & roll crusaders during an era of synthesized pop and heavy metal. The Edge provided the group with a signature sound by creating sweeping sonic landscapes with his heavily processed, echoed guitars. Though the Edge’s style wasn't conventional, the rhythm section of Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr. played the songs as driving hard rock, giving the band a forceful, powerful edge that was designed for arena rock. And their lead singer, Bono, was a frontman who had a knack of grand gestures that played better in arenas than small clubs. It’s no accident that footage of Bono parading with a white flag with ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ blaring in the background became the defining moment of U2’s early career – there rarely was a band that believed so deeply in rock's potential for revolution as U2.” AMG

The Players:

  • Paul “Bono” Hewson (vocals). Born May 10, 1960.
  • Dave “The Edge” Evans (guitar). Born August 8, 1961.
  • Adam Clayton (bass). Born March 13, 1960.
  • Larry Mullen, Jr. (drums). Born October 31, 1961.

On the Web:



The Studio Albums:

Hover over an album cover to see its title and year of release. Click on the album to go to its dedicated DMDB page.


Under each album snapshot, songs featured on the anthologies are noted. If the song charted, the date of the song’s release or first chart appearance and its chart peaks are noted in parentheses. Click for codes to singles charts.

The Beginning (1976-1980):

“With its textured guitars, U2’s sound was undeniably indebted to post-punk, so it’s slightly ironic that the band formed in 1976, before punk had reached their hometown of Dublin, Ireland. Larry Mullen, Jr....posted a notice on a high-school bulletin board asking for fellow musicians to form a band. Bono, …the Edge, …Adam Clayton, …and Dick Evans responded to the ad, and the group formed as a Beatles and Stones cover band called the Feedback, before changing their name to the Hype in 1977. Shortly afterward, Dick Evans left the band to form the Virgin Prunes. Following his departure, the group changed its name to U2.” AMG

“U2's first big break arrived in 1978, when they won a talent contest sponsored by Guinness; the band were in their final year of high school at the time. By the end of the year, the Stranglers' manager, Paul McGuinness, saw the band play and offered to manage them. Even with a powerful manager in their corner, the band had trouble making much headway — they failed an audition with CBS Records at the end of the year. In the fall of 1979, U2 released their debut EP, U2 Three The EP was available only in Ireland, and it topped the national charts.” AMG “U2 had one other chart-topping single, Another Day, in early 1980.” AMG

Establishing the College Rock Sound (1980-1985):

Boy (1980):

“Island Records offered the group a contract…[and] the band’s debut, Boy, was released [in 1980]. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, the record's sweeping, atmospheric but edgy sound was unlike most of its post-punk contemporaries, and the band earned further attention for its public embrace of Christianity; only Clayton was not a practicing Christian.” AMG

  • I Will Follow (10/19/80, 81 US, 78 UK, 20 AR) 80

October (1981):

October, also produced by Lillywhite, followed in the fall, and it became their British breakthrough…By early 1983, Boy's I Will Follow and October's Gloria had become staples on MTV.” AMG

  • October 80

War (1983):

“Released in the spring of 1983, the Lillywhite-produced War was U2’s breakthrough release, entering the U.K. charts at number one and elevating them into arenas in the United States..War had a stronger political message than its predecessors, as evidenced by the U.K., college radio, and MTV hits Sunday Bloody Sunday and New Year’s Day.” AMG

“During the supporting tour, the band filmed its concert at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheater, releasing the show as an EP and video titled Under a Blood Red Sky. The EP entered in the U.K. charts at number two, becoming the most successful live recording in British history. U2 had become one of the most popular bands in the world, and their righteous political stance soon became replicated by many other bands, providing the impetus for the Band Aid and Live Aid projects in 1984 and 1985, respectively.” AMG

The Unforgettable Fire (1984):

“For the follow-up to War, U2 entered the studios with co-producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, who helped give the resulting album an experimental, atmospheric tone. Released in the fall of 1984, The Unforgettable Fire...generated the group's first Top 40 hit in America with the Martin Luther King, Jr. tribute Pride (In the Name of Love). U2 supported the album with a successful international tour, highlighted by a show-stealing performance at Live Aid.” AMG

U2 Take Over the World (1987):

The Joshua Tree (1987):

“While U2 had become one of the most successful rock bands of the '80s, they didn't truly become superstars until the spring 1987 release of The Joshua Tree. Greeted with enthusiastic reviews, many of which proclaimed the album a masterpiece, The Joshua Tree became the band’s first American number one hit and its third straight album to enter the U.K. charts at number one; in England, it set a record by going platinum within 28 hours. Generating the U.S. number one hits With or Without You and I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, The Joshua Tree and the group’s supporting tour became the biggest success of 1987, earning the group the cover of respected publications like Time magazine.” AMG

Rattle and Hum (1988):

“U2 decided to film a documentary about their American tour, recording new material along the way. The project became Rattle & Hum, a film that was supported by a double-album soundtrack that was divided between live tracks and new material. While the album…was a hit, received the weakest reviews of U2's career, with many critics taking issue with the group's fascination with American roots music like blues, soul, country, and folk.” AMG

  • Desire (9/26/88, 3 US, 1 UK, 1 AR, 1 MR) 80, 18
  • Angel of Harlem (10/22/88, 14 US, 9 UK, 38 AC, 1 AR, 3 MR) 80
  • When Love Comes to Town (with B.B. King, 10/22/88, 68 US, 6 UK, 2 AR, 10 MR) 80
  • All I Want Is You (6/13/89, 83 US, 4 UK, 13 AR) 80

The Best of 1980-1990


Released: November 3, 1998

Recorded: 1980-1989

Peak: 2 US, 11 UK, 11 CN, 15 AU

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 1.5 UK, 18.5 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: mainstream/alternative rock

Tracks: (1) Pride (In the Name of Love) (2) New Year’s Day (3) With or Without You (4) I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (5) Sunday Bloody Sunday (6) Bad (7) Where the Streets Have No Name (8) I Will Follow (9) The Unforgettable Fire (10) Sweetest Thing (11) Desire (12) When Love Comes to Town (with B.B. King) (13) Angel of Harlem (14) All I Want Is You (15) October (hidden track)

Limited Edition B-Sides Disc: (1) The Three Sunrises (2) Spanish Eyes (3) Sweetest Thing (4) Love Comes Tubling (5) Bass Trap (6) Dancing Barefoot (7) Everlasting Love (8) Unchained Melody (9) Walk to the Water (10) Luminous Times (Hold on to Love) (11) Hallelujah Here She Comes (12) Silver and Gold (13) Endless Deep (14) A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel (15) Trash, Trampoline and the Party Girl

Total Running Time: 65:35


4.320 out of 5.00 (average of 22 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About The Best of 1980-1990:

“As one of the most popular bands of the '80s, U2 didn't quite fit into any particular category. They were a post-punk band that quickly found acceptance from a hard rock audience, a group that made fully formed albums but often made their best statements on individual songs, especially during the ‘80s.” A80

“Consequently, they're a very hard band to anthologize. Since they were most effective on single songs, it seems that throwing all of them together on one disc would work. The problem is, each of the albums, from Boy to Rattle and Hum, has a distinctive flavor that doesn't necessarily blend when combined, especially in the nonchronological form of The Best of 1980-1990.” A80

“There’s little quibbling with the featured tracks on U2's first compilation – a few important songs, such as ‘Gloria’…and ‘Two Hearts Beat as One,’ may be missing, but everything else deserves to be here (Pride, New Year’s Day, With or Without You, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bad, Desire, etc.).” A80

“Even though the song selection is strong, the album winds up as less than the sum of its parts – each song is pretty great of its own accord (even the single mix of the B-side Sweetest Thing, which is, in truth, not much different at all), but the overall effect is a little underwhelming. On one hand, it may be a good choice for casual fans or nostalgia mongers, since it does contain everything they need to hear, but anyone who has more than a passing interest in the band will be better suited with individual albums.” A80

Tracks Not on Previously Noted Albums:

  • Trash, Trampoline and the Party Girl (1981, B-side of “A Celebration”) 80
  • Endless Deep (1983, B-side of “Two Hearts Beat As One”) 80
  • The Three Sunrises (1984, B-side of “The Unforgettable Fire”) 80
  • Love Comes Tubling (1984, B-side of “The Unforgettable Fire”) 80
  • Bass Trap (1984, B-side of “The Unforgettable Fire”) 80
  • Walk to the Water (1987, B-side of “With or Without You”) 80
  • Luminous Times (Hold on to Love) (1987, B-side of “With or Without You”) 80
  • Spanish Eyes (1987, B-side of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”) 80
  • Sweetest Thing (8/4/87, B-side of “Where the Streets Have No Name,” 63 US, 3 UK, 31 AR, 9 MR) 80, 18
  • Silver and Gold (1987, B-side of “Where the Streets Have No Name”) 80
  • Hallelujah Here She Comes (1988, B-side of “Desire”) 80
  • A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel (1988, B-side of “Angel of Harlem”) 80
  • Dancing Barefoot (1988, B-side of “When Love Comes to Town”) 80
  • Everlasting Love (1989, B-side of “All I Want Is You”) 80
  • Unchained Melody (1989, B-side of “All I Want Is You”) 80

A New Sound (1990-1997):

Achtung Baby (1991):

“U2 reconvened in Berlin 1990 to record a new album with Eno and Lanois. While the sessions for the album were difficult, the resulting record, Achtung Baby, represented a successful reinvention of the band's trademark sound. Where they had been inspired by post-punk in the early career and American music during their mid-career, U2 delved into electronic and dance music with Achtung Baby. Inspired equally by late-'70s Bowie and the Madchester scene in the U.K., Achtung Baby was sonically more eclectic and adventurous than U2's earlier work, and it didn't alienate their core audience. The album debuted at number one throughout the world and spawned Top Ten hits with Mysterious Ways and One. Early in 1992, the group launched an elaborate tour to support Achtung Baby. Dubbed Zoo TV, the tour was an innovative blend of multimedia electronics, featuring a stage filled with televisions, suspended cars, and cellular phone calls. Bono devised an alter ego called the Fly, which was a knowing send-up of rock stardom. Even under the ironic guise of the Fly and Zoo TV, it was evident that U2 were looser and more fun than ever before, even though they had not abandoned their trademark righteous political anger.” AMG

  • Mysterious Ways [4:04] (11/23/91, 9 US, 3 CB, 5 RR, 1 AR, 1 MR, 13 UK, 1 CN, 3 AU) 90, 18
  • One [4:36] (1/4/92, 10 US, 3 CB, 2 RR, 24 AC, 1 AR, 1 MR, 7 UK, 1 CN, 4 AU) 90, 18
  • Until the End of the World [4:39] (2/1/92, 5 AR, 4 MR) 90
  • Even Better Than the Real Thing [3:41] (6/7/92, 32 US, 21 CB, 13 RR, 1 AR, 5 MR, 8 UK, 3 CN, 11 AU) 90

Zoooropa (1993):

“Following the completion of the American Zoo TV tour in late 1992 and before the launch of the European leg of the tour, U2 entered the studio to complete an EP of new material that became the full-length Zooropa. Released in the summer of 1993 to coincide with the tour of the same name, Zooropa demonstrated a heavier techno and dance influence than Achtung Baby and it received strong reviews. Nevertheless, the album stalled at sales of two million and failed to generate a big hit single. During the Zooropa tour, the Fly metamorphosed into the demonic MacPhisto, which dominated the remainder of the tour. Upon the completion of the Zooropa tour in late 1993, the band took an extended break.” AMG

  • Numb (6/30/93, 61a US, 18 AR, 2 MR) 90
  • Stay (Faraway, So Close!) (7/31/93, 61 US, 4 UK, 12 AR, 15 MR) 90
  • The First Time (album: 7/5/93, --) 90

Original Soundtracks 1 (1995):

“During 1995, U2 re-emerged with Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me, a glam rock theme to Batman Forever…Later that year, they recorded the collaborative album Original Soundtracks, Vol. 1 with Brian Eno, releasing the album under the name the Passengers late in 1995. It was greeted with a muted reception, both critically and commercially.” AMG

  • Miss Sarajevo (recorded as Passengers, 11/11/95, --) 90
  • Your Blue Room 90

Pop (1997):

“U2 promised their next album, to be released in the fall of 1996, would be a rock & roll record. The album took longer to complete than usual, being pushed back to the spring of 1997. During its delay, a few tracks, including the forthcoming first single Discotheque, were leaked, and it became clear that the new album was going to be heavily influenced by techno, dance, and electronic music. When it was finally released, Pop did indeed bear a heavier dance influence.” AMG

  • Discothèque (1/24/97, 10 US, 1 UK, 6 AR, 1 MR) 90
  • Staring at the Sun (3/14/97, 26 US, 3 UK, 2 AR, 1 MR) 90
  • Gone (album: 3/4/97, --) 90

A New Sound…Again (2000-2006):

All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000):

Next, “U2 teamed up with Eno and Lanois once again to release All That You Can't Leave Behind in fall 2000.” AMG That album, and its follow-up, 2004’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, were effectively U2’s third phase; after leading the way for college rock in the ‘80s and leaning heavily on dance/electronica in the ‘90s, they launched the new decade with a rawer, rootsier back-to-basics rock and roll sound that was hailed as yet another welcome change for U2.

  • Beautiful Day (9/9/00, 21 US, 1 UK, 14 AR, 5 MR) 90, 18
  • Walk On (1/6/01, 5 UK, 19 AR, 10 MR) 18
  • Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of (1/29/01, 52 US, 2 UK, 35 AR, 35 MR) 90, 18
  • Elevation (4/28/01, 3 UK, 21 AR, 8 MR) 18

The Best of 1990-2000


Released: November 4, 2002

Recorded: 1991-2002

Peak: 3 US, 2 UK, 11 CN, 11 AU

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.6 UK, 7.5 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: mainstream/alternative rock

Tracks: (1) Even Better Than the Real Thing (2) Mysterious Ways (3) Beautiful Day (4) Electrical Storm (5) One (6) Miss Sarajevo (7) Stay (Faraway, So Close!) (8) Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of (8) Gone (9) Until the End of the World (10) The Hands That Built America (11) Discoteque (12) Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me (14) Staring at the Sun (15) Numb (16) The First Time

Limited Edition B-Sides Disc: (1) Lady with the Spinning Head (2) Dirty Day (3) Summer Rain (4) Electric Storm (5) North and South of the River (6) Your Blue Room (7) Happiness Is a Warm Gun (8) Salome (9) Even Better Than the Real Thing (Perfecto Mix) (10) Numb (Gimme Some More Dignity Mix Edit) (11) Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Club Mix) (12) If God Will Send His Angels (Big Yam Mix) (13) Lemon (Jeep Mix) (14) Discotheque (Hexidecimal Mix Edit)

Total Running Time: 71:53


4.130 out of 5.00 (average of 10 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About The Best of 1990-2000:

Best of 1990-2000 was the second compilation from U2, the first being Best of 1980-1990, released four years earlier. This one picks up where that one left off, offering a nice one-two punch retrospective of the band’s first two decades.

Hits like Mysterious Ways, One, Numb, Discothèque, and Beautiful Day are here alongside 1995’s Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me, which first appeared on the Batman Forever soundtrack. Also from that year is Miss Sarajevo, which was a collaboration with Brian Eno originally credited to Passengers.

Unlike the previous collection, this one offered a couple of new songs – Electrical Storm and The Hands That Built America. The former was released as a single and the latter appeared on the soundtrack for Gangs of New York.

Still, this album isn’t quite as strong as its predecessor. A couple of album cuts (Gone, The First Time) appear here, which take up space that could have been given to hits like “The Fly” (a #1 hit in the UK), “Last Night on Earth” (a top ten hit in the UK), or “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses” (a #2 album rock hit), or even the band’s cover of “Night and Day,” a #2 modern rock hit which appeared on the 1990 album Red Hot + Blue, a tribute to Cole Porter.

Tracks Not on Previously Noted Albums:

  • Mysterious Ways (1991, Solar Plexus Club Mix) (B-side of “Mysterious Ways”) 90
  • Lady with the Spinning Head (1992, B-side of “Even Better Than the Real Thing”) 90
  • Even Better Than the Real Thing (Perfecto Mix) (1992, B-side of “Even Better Than the Real Thing”) 90
  • Salome (1992, B-side of “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses”) 90
  • Lemon (Jeep Mix) (1993, B-side of “Lemon”) 90
  • Numb (Gimme Some More Dignity Mix Edit) (1995, Melon: Remixes for Propaganda) 90
  • Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me (6/5/95, 16 US, 2 UK, 1 AR, 1 MR) 90
  • Discotheque (1997, Hexidecimal Mix Edit) (B-side of “Discoteque”) 90
  • North and South of the River (1997, B-side of “Staring at the Sun”) 90
  • Happiness Is a Warm Gun (1997, B-side of “Last Night on Earth”) 90
  • Dirty Day (1997, B-side of “Please”) 90
  • If God Will Send His Angels (Big Yam Mix) (1997, B-side of “Mofo”) 90
  • Summer Rain (2000, B-side of “Beautiful Day”) 90
  • Electrical Storm (9/14/02, 77 US, 5 UK, 26 AR, 14 MR) 90
  • The Hands That Built America (album: 11/12/02, --) 90

How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004):

  • Vertigo (8/31/04, 31 US, 1 UK, 3 AR, 1 MR) 18
  • Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own (2/7/05, 97 US, 1 UK, 29 MR) 18

U218: Singles


Released: November 20, 2006

Recorded: 1980-2006

Peak: 12 US, 4 UK, 3 CN, 12 AU

Sales (in millions): 0.13 US, 0.62 UK, 5.13 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: mainstream/alternative rock

Tracks: (1) Beautiful Day (2) I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (3) Pride (In the Name of Love) (4) With or Without You (5) Vertigo (6) New Year’s Day (7) Mysterious Ways (8) Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of (9) Where the Streets Have No Name (10) Sweetest Thing (11) Sunday Bloody Sunday (12) One (13) Desire (14) Walk On (15) Elevation (16) Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own (17) The Saints Are Coming (with Green Day) (18) Window in the Skies

Total Running Time: 74:35


4.265 out of 5.00 (average of 10 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About U218:

While a single-disc retrospective of U2 would seem a sure-fire hit, this album stalled in the U.S., becoming the band’s first album since 1984’s The Unforgettable Fire to miss the top ten. Part of the blame is releasing the album so soon after their last compilation – the 2002 Best of 1990-2000. In fact, based on that album title and its predecessor, Best of 1980-1990, the next compilation would seemingly have come at the close of the decade and rounded up the band’s hits from the new millennium.

That is accented all the more by the fact that the band had only released one studio album, 2004’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, since Best of 1990-2000 so there’s not much new here. There’s Vertigo and Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own from that album and two new songs. One is a cover of the Skids’ The Saints Are Coming. The song was done as a collaboration with Green Day to benefit Hurricane Katrina charities. W18 The other new song was Window in the Skies.

Still, it isn’t the worst thing to have New Year’s Day, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Pride (In the Name of Love), With or Without You, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Desire, Mysterious Ways, One, and Beautiful Day all on one collection.

Tracks Not on Previously Noted Albums:

  • The Saints Are Coming (with Green Day, 10/14/06, 51 US, 2 UK, 33 AR, 22 MR) 18
  • Window in the Skies (11/19/06, 4 UK, 32 MR) 18

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 7/1/2008; last updated 8/14/2021.

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