The pick of U2’s Edge-centricity. By Keith Cameron. THE POST-PUNK PARVENU Boy ★★★★ (ISLAND, 1980)
The Edge considers U2’s debut the album he’d be most interested in completely re-recording – “because it’s full of so many amazing ideas, and we had so little time” – but it’s impossible to imagine hindsight’s wisdom fashioning anything to better the original’s ecstatic angst. The gauche collective energy was stiffened by Edge’s spartan guitar impressionism, as outsider anthems I Will Follow and Out Of Control heralded a new breed of guitar anti-heroism. THE FUNKY FUTURE SHOCK Achtung Baby ★★★★★ (ISLAND, 1991)
An act of artistic reinvention driven by The Edge’s zeal to drag U2 into the future (or at least the present), achieved by rekindling their post-punk grounding in German machine music, via a foray to Berlin and reuniting with Brian Eno. The Fly and Zoo Station were new model variants on original-era U2 sturm und drang, while One saw Edge’s ear for a chord sequence pull his band out of the deepest hole. THE ODD ODYSSEY No Line On The Horizon ★★★ (ISLAND, 2009)
This messy compromise between several different U2s began with shelved Rick Rubin recordings before stumbling through subsequent sessions that not even the combined production brains of Eno, Lanois and Lillywhite could magic into coherence. But No Line’s best bits belong to the quiet man on guitar: ratcheting up the torque on Magnificent; the hymnal, un-Edgey solo on Moment Of Surrender; and his ear-popping shred-out on Unknown Caller. More of that please, maestro.