Salomé | the Achtung Baby sessions
Berlin, Germany, 1990
SBD > DAT > ? > Silver 3CD set "Salomé the [Axtung Beibi] outtakes" (Jewels 277110) > EAC > WAV > phase correction > Har-Bal EQ > Waves S1, L3 > FLAC (6)
01 Where Did It All Go Wrong?
02 Heaven And Hell
04 I Feel Free
05 Sweet Baby Jane
07 Sick For Love
09 Morning Child
10 Lady With The Spinning Head
11 Wake Up
01 I Feel Free [alt I]
02 Doctor Doctor 
03 Jitterbug Baby
04 Even Better Than The Real Thing [inst]
05 Take Today
06 Sunset In Colors
07 I Feel Free [alt II]
08 She's Gonna Blow Your House Down
09 Going Down South [inst]
10 Salomé [alt]
11 Where Did It All Go Wrong? [alt]
Short description for lazy people:
Nice, get this.
Long description for patient people:
This might be the most underrated U2 boot ever: a three disc collection of studio sessions of a band searching for a new sound. Well, obviously they hadn't quite found it in 1990. This is halfway between Rattle and Hum, and Achtung Baby, literally. But interesting it is.
Amongst the tracks on the Jewels set a lot of fooling around, experimenting, up to nine versions of the same song, fragments, unfinished ideas. Hard to listen to.
But also a lot of complete songs, almost hidden in the mess, some of them completely finished and in pristine studio quality. Even nicer to me sound the loosely, laidback played early versions of some songs that made it onto the final album Achtung Baby. While official U2 albums tend to sound like every freshness is squeezed out of it by (poor) production, here is a vivid and exciting sound to experience.
From the 36 songs I took the more or less complete songs only, and out of the various takes of the same song I picked the one or two that I liked most. Then, there was some work to do. Firstly, throughout the cd set, one channel was phase reversed which spoiled every listening fun. Secondly, the songs lacked presence and vividness, due to poor EQ'ing and muddy ultra low frequencies which shouldn't be there.
After fixing these flaws, I ended up with a blistering collection of the first steps towards U2's most exciting album ever. But then what? How to organize a compilation like this? It is impossible to determine any chronological order. Moreover, while some songs could be pressed on silver right away, other songs are rather raw so there's no real consistency. Not much logic and rational choices left. So, I chose eleven songs that I liked best and put them on disc one in the same order they were on the Jewels bootleg (except for Wake Up because it was added in the last minute). Then I took a B-selection of another eleven songs I considered of lesser concern for some reason, and threw them on disc two in the order I remastered them, i.e. random order. If you want a different order: all songs are sector aligned, and all songs end with 2.5 seconds of silence, so you can order them yourself in any order you like.
Below a short description of the selected tracks with a reference to the Jewels set between brackets:
01 Where Did It All Go Wrong? (Jewels d01t02) - Nice track, obviously completely finished as the B-side to Even Better Than The Real Thing sounds virtually the same, except for the lyrics.
02 Heaven and Hell (Jewels d01t04) - Slow tune built around an organ riff. Rather unfinished and not the most exciting song, but nevertheless a nice listen. Some directions from Bono throughout.
03 Salomé (Jewels d01t08) - The third appearance of this song on the Jewels set. The first appearance sounds more finished, but I like this one more as it is a little rougher and bolder. I never decided what to think of the song itself, but this version I do appreciate.
04 I Feel Free (Jewels d02t01) - Early version of Until The End Of The World. It has joy all over it and it is played loosely like you rarely hear U2. One of the highlights of the set. The mix is slightly rough and there's a little hiss, but it isn't really annoying.
05 Sweet Baby Jane (Jewels d02t02) - Quite unfinished. Sounds a bit like some tradional chant. I do realize it's a weak song but I like it anyway. Small catch in the beginning, I wouldn't know if it's Bono stuttering or a DAT error.
06 Someone (Jewels d03t01) - Fragment only and that's a real shame, as this is another highlight. This would have been a blistering song if finished. Larry rarely sounds funky like this, in fact I've never heard him like this. Pristine quality.
07 Sick For Love (Jewels d03t02) - Early version of So Cruel. A little slower, without the agressive drums and built around heavy keyboard parts, this isn't exactly one of the best ideas I've heard from U2. I'm glad they developed it until they reached the beauty of So Cruel. Some lyrics are already there.
08 Acrobat (Jewels d03t03) - Early version. Punchy and agressive version, I dig it.
09 Morning Child (Jewels d03t05) - Early version of Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses. Acoustic. The single edit of WGRYWH reminds of this early take. Sweet, very sweet. Unfortunately Bono sings rather annoying at spots.
10 Lady With The Spinning Head (Jewels d03t06) - This is the absolute leader of the pack. Brilliant all the way. My all time favorite. Un fuckin believable. Much, much better than the commercially available remixes. And luckily: sound quality is pristine, one could press it on silver right away. Don't forget to crank up the volume: earsplitting isn't loud enough for this.
11 Wake up (Jewels d02t11) - This is some dirty rock song I never appreciated because it sounded extremely muddy and messy. One of the tracks that profited most from the remastering process. Now it sounds clean, punchy and agressive, and I started to like the feel of it, in fact it is one of my favorites of the set. Like more songs on this compilation it contains the lyric "Wake up dead man", which seven years later finally evolved in a completely different song.
01 I Feel Free (Jewels d01t11) - Earlier take of the same song on disc one. Even more joy, even rawer sound. As I really like this song, I don't get tired of some different takes.
02 Doctor Doctor (Jewels d01t05) - Slow song, poor lyrics, nothing special. The Jewels disc contained two short fragments only; I've glued them together for a smoother listening experience. So no complete song but an edited fragment only.
03 Jitterbug Baby (Jewels d01t06) - Rather experimental jam. I'm not particularly keen about this track (actually it's a tough listen to me) but it obviously was a necessary step towards The Fly. It already contains the main riff of the latter.
04 Even Better Than The Real Thing (Jewels d02t07) - Oh well it's at least complete. I don't care much about instrumental tracks waiting for a singer so I hope someone else likes it.
05 Take Today (Jewels d02t12) - I hate this song and I wouldn't know why I included it. This is backward, not forward: Rattle and Hum going wrong big time.
06 Sunset In Colors (Jewels d01t08 first half) - Some mainly instrumental jamming, rather boring actually. You may have noticed we arrived in an area that might be interesting for die-hard fans only.
07 I Feel Free (Jewels d01t08 second half) - Did I say already I like this track? This is the roughest and clearly the earliest take of the Jewels discs. Lots of directions from Bono. I can happily listen to it but it might be boring for an average listener.
08 She's Gonna Blow Your House Down (Jewels d02t08) - This is an early version of "Wake Up". It has some experimental seventies rock feeling I like. It might take a little to appreciate it but I do by now.
09 Going Down South (d03t07) - Instrumental song, elevator music at the very most. Extremely boring. Only included because the artwork already was finished at this point (lol).
10 Salomé (Jewels d01t01) - This version is virtually the same as the B-side to Even Better Than The Real Thing. As stated earlier, I like the version on the first disc better but this take is a nice filler.
11 Where Did It All Go Wrong? (Jewels d01t03) - Almost the same as the other version except for it's a little shorter and Edge messes up the bridge. Filler.