Reviewed by John Cheek
This year's limited edition CD release to subscribers of U2's website has caused some controversy amongst hard-core fanatics: it's been deemed as being not 'rare' enough. Considering that this long time U2 collector only possesses seven of the 15 tracks offered here, I'd beg to differ. Only two songs here haven't been previously released by U2 in one guise or another, but many of them are hard to come by - perhaps they've only been available on Official Soundtracks to movies, or one-off collaborations with other artists: either way, the quality of the duets on 'Duals' is sufficient to make it one good reason to pay-up and sign-up. The two exceptions are the live version of "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of", which only serves to expose what an appalling voice Mick Jagger now has, and the 1997 B-side with Willie Nelson, "Slow Dancing", which may have been written in the hope that it would become the archetypal last-song-at-a-wedding reception, but is in truth just.slow and, ahem, boring. The rest of 'Duals' sees much greater quality control though, with the cover of The Skids' "The Saints Are Coming" with Green Day a particular highlight; as is the awesome version with the Soweto Gospel Choir of "Where The Streets Have No Name", which I'd argue is actually superior to the original. Over 20 years on, the song suddenly seems fully realised in that it doesn't just look ahead to a promised land, but now alludes, Book of Exodus-style, to a previous state of oppression, with the addition of a gospel choir from a previously apartheid-dominated background. The same choir later join U2 for the closer, a world music-tinged "Amazing Grace", where Bono talks of once being lost, and now he's found - a spine-tingling moment.
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