Reviewed by John Cheek
In the light of U2's cancellation of their eagerly-anticipated, much-publicised appearance at Glastonbury this month, the postponement of the large number of American dates on the latest leg of their 360-degree world tour, and the coverage of Bono's back operation at the hands of a German specialist, U2 fanatics will be looking to plug the gap left by the lack of BBC live images, from a muddy field in Pilton. An option may be the forthcoming live DVD, although it's something they may already be familiar with, if they were up in the wee-small-hours, one morning last year when their Pasadena concert was being streamed across the internet. Another proposition may be to invest in a year's subscription to www.u2.com - as one of the benefits is this limited-release rarities collection. 'Artificial Horizon' despite it's title and cover artwork similarity, only features three tracks relating to their most recent studio album. There's nothing which truly fits the category: 'previously unreleased', on here. Everything has already seen the light of day, in one guise or another. Only a couple count as rare B-sides. What you get is stuff which has had varying degrees of limited availability previously - and three remixes made public for the first time. But you get the feeling that they've saved the best 'till last, as some of the 13 gems here, are as notable as the guest names collaborating on them. With the likes of David Holmes, Jacknife Lee and Trent Reznor providing the treatment, this isn't an ideal introduction for anyone looking to understand the phenomenon that is U2. Rather, a refreshing step into a curiosity shop for those long-enamoured with Dublin's finest. Through it all, the band's Christian faith seeps through, in a way which perhaps reminds you of hearing repeated plays of Candi Staton's "You Got The Love" - or Mary Mary - in nightclubs on hot, summer nights past. The refrain "Meet me/Meet in the sound" is perhaps directed away from the dance-floor to someone other. "If God Will Send His Angels" and "Staring At The Sun", sound like the deconstruction of the traditional band format, all the while continuing to consider the bigger picture and bother God. "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight", is here, interpreted as grappling with God in the best Old Testament sense. And yet. Yet the almost demo-like quality of an instrumental take on "Beautiful Day", is still more-evocative. Sounding like a Christian banding playing in a tent as you're walking past at Greenbelt, it's reminiscent of the gloriously low, droning intensity of "Tomorrow", circa 1981. A consolation, for the Glasto no-show.
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