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18 Singles
Island Records

Now, I don't consider myself a U2 expert or even an avid enthusiast, but a fan none-the-less. As a fan, I have to say this is the perfect U2 album to buy. 18 Singles has everything you've come to know and love from U2. If you can't find a song on here that you enjoy, then you can't consider yourself a fan.

Each song has a story to it, because each song came at a different point in U2's history. The earliest part of the history (or at least the part that's highlighted on this album), starts with selections from the album War. In a decade where music saw the "New Wave of British Heavy Metal", U2 was among many great bands arising. Battling for audiences with Van Halen and Queen, U2 managed to tweak out an album that really only did well in the UK. However, today, the emotion packed "Sunday Bloody Sunday" has probably one of the most recognizable choruses in music. With these engaging lyrics and skilled rhythm section, you can't help yourself but get behind this protest song.

Moving along in history (and skipping a few albums) is The Joshua Tree, marking their 5th release. This album was unbelievably successful and was considered the worldwide introduction of U2. "Where The Streets Have No Name" leads in with a beautiful organ, over which The Edge plays an echo-effect guitar that's sounds so detailed and skilled, yet so powerful. "With Or Without You" has become one of their most well-known songs of all time. In this song you get a taste of a different guitar technique called "infinite guitar," which distorts the notes just a little, creating an almost eerie presence. Besides politics, Bono does go into a few personal songs. One of my favorite songs not only from The Joshua Tree, but in general is "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." The drums and guitar are a little mellower and simpler on this song, allowing for the lyrics and Bono's amazing voice to really intensify.

With their sixth album Rattle And Hum came more recognition and a motion picture. The one song from Rattle And Hum that was selected for 18 Singles is "Desire." This song uses a beat that has a history of its own - Bo Diddley. This beat has also been used by George Michael, The Who, and Buddy Holly. Simply put, a beat that was derived somewhere between blues and rock 'n roll - want more of an explanation? Ask Bo.

Achtung Baby, 7th album, was a turning point for the band that changed their sound. With "Mysterious Ways" there's more of an electronica and dance sound. More effects done with the guitar, more time spent on the detail of each song produced and even a darker tone to the lyrics and themes. This new sound naturally brought in new fans, yet managed to barely keep the old ones. This song is the other favorite of mine.

Jumping farther into the '90s with The Best Of 1980-1990, they chose the song "Sweetest Thing." Originally released as a B-Side for "Where The Streets Have No Name" it was later re-recorded, re-released and re-named "Sweetest Thing" for that compilation. The song was originally written as an apology to his wife for forgetting her birthday during The Joshua Tree sessions. Simply put, it's a beautiful ballad with a great piano theme running through it.

Starting off the new millennium was All That You Can't Leave Behind. Becoming their fourth highest-selling album explained the reasoning behind the selection of four songs for this album (the most off of one album). "Beautiful Day" the first song on both albums, is an up-beat anthem which opens with a few new electronics, drum machine and rhythm sequencer, creating a great effect. "Elevation" is one of those songs destined for #1. With a centralized guitar and easy rhyming lyrics that get stuck in anyone's head, it's easy to see why.

A few more songs are thrown onto the album which were released more recently. Such as a cover of The Skids' song "The Saints Are Coming" performed with Green Day. Also included are another dramatic ballad "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" and the power hit "Vertigo" off of their commercially successful eleventh album.

An incredible album that ends just as powerful and extraordinary as it began. From a group that continues to produce albums which climb the charts with ease. This is an essential addition to any music library.

-Rachel Fredrickson

Track Listing:
1. Beautiful Day
2. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
3. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
4. With Or Without You
5. Vertigo
6. New Year's Day
7. Mysterious Ways
8. Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of
9. Where The Streets Have No Name
10. Sweetest Thing
11. Sunday Bloody Sunday
12. One
13. Desire
14. Walk On
15. Elevation
16. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
17. The Saints Are Coming
18. Window In The Skies

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