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The Edge: "Even Better Than The Real Thing is probably the closest U2 will get to sounding like the Rolling Stones"

The Edge
(Image credit: Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

For the 30th anniversary of what is arguably U2's greatest album (we agree), Bono and The Edge sat down with BBC Radio 2's Jo Wiley recently to look back on Achtung Baby. And some interesting perspectives emerged on the musical side.

"Even Better Than The Real Thing is probably the closest U2 will get to sounding like the Rolling Stones," notes the Edge during the chat. "It came out of sessions we had around the time of [1988 album] Rattle And Hum. 

"So we were exploring R&B and rock n' roll at that time, but it didn't make that album and we had it hanging around for a while. We started working on it with Brian [Eno] and Danny [Lanois, Achtung Baby producers]  and I think it might have been Brian who said at once stage, glibly, "Well this is better than The Real Thing' - earlier on it was called The Real Thing. Bono, picking up on that instantly went, 'I'll have that - that's great'".

I have to say we proved all of the naysayers who said U2's anti-dance stance was a big part of our thing

 Good old Eno, but beyond the in-joke of the title, the song still stands up - and found the band clearly evolving past the trademark dotted eighth delay anthems they'd later return to.

"I have to say we proved all of the naysayers who said U2's anti-dance stance was a big part of our thing. That's another one we could put on in a club."

"I remember saying to somebody at the end, because you have your regrets about every piece of music you make," picks up Bono. "I said to someone, I think a very revered writer, that, 'It's really dense, the problem with Achtung Baby is it's a really dense album. And the word went out, 'It's a dance album'. I said dense, not dance!"

Ever the joker. But Bono notes U2's ascent into the world of dance music was serious when Paul Oakenfold did the Perfecto Mix of Even Better Than The Real Thing that topped the dance charts on both sides of the Atlantic. 

 

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Rob Laing
Rob Laing

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar. I've currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with my own songs and I am enjoying playing covers in function bands.