Songs of Surrender: U2 Unplugged



It is St. Patrick's Day 2023, and Irish band U2 released their 40-song new (make that 'reimagined') album Songs of Surrender. 'Reimagined' in the sense that the 40 songs of SOS are not new tracks but, rather, 'reimagined' updates of 40 songs from their existing discography.

Of the 40 songs, I like 10 or 11, which is par for the course. That's roughly 1/4th or so, or 25%. Close to one and a half stars out of five, so let's be generous and raise that to two stars.

Two stars out of five in the old Rolling Stone and Tower Records guides to albums meant, by definition, "for fans only". I think that is a fair assessment for U2's new 'reimagined' album Songs of Surrender.

If you are not already a fan of U2, Songs of Surrender won't make you one. If, however, you are a fan of U2, you will find some tracks amid the 40 that you will like as much as their originals, if not more.

All of the songs of SOS are stripped-down, almost entirely unplugged (except for the bass, from what I can tell). This is, essentially, a 1990s-like MTV U2 Unplugged album.

Some of the ones I like are:  

The Miracle (of Joey Ramone). I never liked the original version on Songs of Innocence. I don't like much from that album. The original version is catchy, begrudgingly. I just never associated U2 with The Ramones or punk. The Ramones were massive, of course, when U2 were teenagers and just starting up. So it makes sense for them to have been influenced by The Ramones. But to me, they've always been post-punk, even New Wave. And I would think that a nod to The Ramones would be more punk rather than pop. This stripped-down version on SOS, along with updated lyrics, makes it more poignant in their nod to The Ramones than what they did on Songs of Innocence. This might very well be the best track of the entire 40-song album.

Red Hill Mining Town. It's a great song on their classic album The Joshua Tree. Stripped down, and with horns added, the genius of the song is only verified.

The Fly. The original buzzes. This one is lounge. The Edge still turns out some riffs even though he's playing acoustic.

Bad. U2 tried, but they can't really murder that song. Any version is good, even this one. Bono's older voice adds some gravitas to the song.

Dirty Day. Reminiscent of Nick Cave.

Two Hearts Beat As One. Unplugged but still rollicks.