Music » CD Reviews

U2

The Best & B-Sides of 1990-2000 (Island)

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The acolyte will deride the obvious misses amid this collection of hits, among them "The Fly," "Please," "The Wanderer," and "Elevation." The casual fan won't even notice, since the casual fan skipped most of the band's '90s output anyway, insisting on staying beneath the shadow of The Joshua Tree.

Still, it's amazing U2 could fill two discs this go-round, since there were half as many albums to choose from as there were for the 1980-to-1990 best-and-rest-of twofer, and a quarter as many moments worth getting stuck in or on. Here, the grandest discovery and joy come from hearing concept albums, such as they were, torn apart and reassembled as a gathering of rootless singles on disc one. It's far better when "Mysterious Ways" gives way to a "Beautiful Day," instead of Bono tryin' to throw his arms around the world, and it's a blast when "Hold Me, Thrill Me" is followed by a new mix of "Discotheque," the greatest U2 single that wasn't.

Odd that the band would include the William Orbit remix of "Electrical Storm," the new single, on the first disc; it fits better on the inessential second, a compendium of redos intended for the clubs, most of which went out of business in 1998. Better to hear the Edge's edgy guitar -- strings like razors, played with bloodied fingers -- than imagine it, which is all the remixes can offer; turns out it was precisely what the band couldn't leave behind.

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