In the summer of 1992, U2 achieved the unthinkable: having commissioned Perfecto production duo Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne to remix ‘Even Better Than The Real Thing’, they reached number 8 with their remix just one month after the original song had peaked at number 12. The power of 1990’s club culture was truly coming to the fore and U2 were one of the first bands to fully explore the idea that a remix could actually improve on a song’s original grooves. It was the first time that the band had explored the electronic world - and the electronic world loved them back.
Fast-forward to 1995 and U2 were again ahead of the curve with their exclusive Propaganda fan-club release ‘Melon’, which saw the same production duo remix the compilation’s title track which Oakenfold turned into a bona fide club anthem around the world. ‘Melon: Remixes for Propaganda’, was also full of electronic remix gems like Massive Attack’s brooding take on ‘Mysterious Ways’ and a hip hop remix of ‘Numb’ by Soul Assassins, a loose collective of musicians and graphic artists affiliated to Cypress Hill.
Taking some of the best songs from ‘Achtung Baby’ and ‘Zooropa’, the selection and decision was incredibly astute: not only was it only available to Propaganda subscribers, it also became an instant collectors item. Almost two decades on, it’s still one of the coolest items in U2 fan collections today.
Of course, U2’s shoes remained glued to the dance-floor with ‘Pop’ and more recently with remixes of ‘Elevation’ and Paul Epworth’s frantic re-fix of ‘City Of Blinding Lights’. But now - 18 years on from ‘Melon’ - U2 have returned to the concept that originally bore fruit and are bringing us ‘Artificial Horizon.’ Like ‘Melon’, these remixes are either unreleased or so rare that you would have to have been in the studio to have actually heard them before.
Many of these mixes will be known to the electronic heads within U2’s fan-base - the Justice remix of Boots was rumoured to have been a bootleg for quite some time - but not any more, as it’s one of the standout remixes here. If we’re going to be precise, this is certainly the first time that remixes from Fred Falke, Fish Out Of Water and Hot Chip have been made physically available for the U2 fans. And the Frankie Goes To Hollywood-referencing ‘I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight’ (Live U2360 Remix) has never appeared anywhere before.
So what does ‘Articial Horizon’ tell us? Well, like ‘Melon’ before it, it covers refashioned songs from more than one album. A quick scan reveals that the CD starts with the Influx mix of ‘Elevation’ (from ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’) and includes several songs from ‘No Line…’ (including ‘Get On Your Boots’ and ‘I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight’ as well as songs from ‘All That You Can Leave Behind’ (David Holmes’ daringly dark remake of ‘Beautiful Day’) as well as a cool, ambient remix of ‘Staring At The Sun’ from ‘Pop’ by Brothers In Rhythm to close.
In the case of Hot Chip, Fred Falke and Justice, it’s a reminder that U2’s feet and heartbeat have kept up with new producers from London and Paris alike and in the case of Nine Inch Nails, they’ve walked as far as Beverley Hills. And in the case of David Holmes and Danny Saber, they’re dabbling with producers who have re-modelled their music before. Fans may remember that Belfast producer David Holmes remixed ‘Discotheque’ while Danny Saber - who retools ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ here - previously remixed ‘Satellite Of Love’ from ‘The Million Dollar Hotel’ soundtrack.