20 Years today since U2’s Achtung Baby was released
Achtung Baby is the seventh studio album by rock band U2. It was produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, and was released on 19 November 1991 on Island Records.
After criticism of their 1988 release Rattle and Hum, U2 shifted direction to incorporate alternative rock, industrial, and electronic dance music influences into their sound. U2 began recording Achtung Baby in Berlin’s Hansa Studios in October 1990. The sessions were fraught with conflict, as the band argued over their musical direction and the quality of their material. After weeks of tension and slow progress, the group made a breakthrough with the improvised writing of the song “One”.
The Zoo TV Tour were central to the group’s 1990s reinvention. The Zoo TV stage featured dozens of large video screens that showed visual effects, video clips from pop culture, and flashing text phrases. Live satellite link-ups, channel surfing, prank calls, and video confessionals were incorporated into the shows. Bono portrayed several characters he conceived, including “The Fly”, “Mirror Ball Man”, and “MacPhisto”.
Achtung Baby is one of U2’s most successful records. It spawned five hit singles, including “One”, “Mysterious Ways”, and “The Fly”. The album has sold 18 million copies worldwide and won a Grammy Award in 1993 for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
Not to be out done by Pearl jam’s documentry PJ20. U2 have their own doco “From the Sky Down” about production of their 1991 album Achtung Baby. The film documents the difficult recording period, the band members’ relationships, and the record’s legacy. Archival footage and stills from the recording sessions appear in the film, along with unreleased scenes from the group’s 1988 motion picture Rattle and Hum.
What do you think is it still as good as it was 20 years ago, or has it past its used by date?