As we reported a couple of weeks ago, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers U2, fresh from launching the North American leg of their ongoing world tour, will give fans a treat next month with the release of an expanded version of their breakthrough 1984 album The Unforgettable Fire.” 

Due Oct. 27 from Island/Universal, the re-issue will be available in four configurations, among them a 2-CD edition that contains rarities and B-sides, including the previously unreleased “Disappearing Act” (a.k.a. “White City”), which the band began recording in 1983 with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois.


Recording and production

As Adam Clayton recalls, “We were looking for something that was a bit more serious, more arty.” The Edge admired the ambient and “weird works” of Brian Eno, who along with his engineer Daniel Lanois eventually agreed to produce the record. Island Records boss Chris Blackwell nitially tried to discourage them from their choice of producers, believing that just when the band were about to achieve the highest levels of success, Eno would “bury them under a layer of avant-garde nonsense”.

Recording for the album began in March 1984, with the initial sessions being held at Slane Castle, County Meath; held in a Gothic ballroom built specially for music, the sessions had a relaxed and experimental atmosphere. Recording would eventually move to Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin.

he band feared that following the overt rock of the War album and tour, they were in danger of becoming another “shrill”, “sloganeering arena-rock band”. The success of the Under a Blood Red Sky album and the Live at Red Rocks video, however, had given them artistic—and for the first time—financial freedom.Thus, rather than become another formula band, experimentation was sought.

The melody and the chords to “Pride (In the Name of Love)” originally came out of a 1983 War Tour sound check in Hawaii. The song was originally intended to be about Ronald Reagan’s pride in America’s military power, but Bono was influenced by Stephen B. Oates’s book Let The Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and a biography of Malcolm X to ponder the different sides of the civil rights campaigns, the violent and the non-violent. Bono would revise the lyrics to pay tribute to King, Jr. Another song, the sparse, dreamlike “MLK” was written as an elegy to King, Jr.

The ambient instrumental “4th of July” came about almost entirely through a moment of inspiration from Eno. At the end of a studio session, Eno happened to overhear Clayton improvising a simple bass figure; he liked what he was hearing, so recorded it “ad hoc” as it was being played. The Edge happened to join in, improvising a few guitar ideas over the top of Clayton’s bass; neither knew they were being recorded. Eno added some treatments and then transferred the piece straight to two-track master tape — and that was the song finished, with no possibility of further overdubs.

The last two weeks of recording were a panicked scramble to finish the lyrics, such that Bono felt songs like “Bad” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)” were left as incomplete “sketches.” The band finished the album in August 1984 at Windmill Lane Studios.


A far more atmospheric album than the previous War, The Unforgettable Fire has a rich and orchestrated sound and was the first U2 album with a cohesive sound. Under Lanois’ direction, Larry’s drumming became looser, funkier and more subtle, and Adam’s bass became more subliminal, such that the rhythm section no longer intruded, but flowed in support of the songs.

The album’s lyrics are open to many interpretations, which alongside its atmospheric sounds, provides what the band often called a “very visual feel”.Bono had recently been immersing himself in fiction, philosophy and poetry, and came to realise that his song writing mission—which up to that point had been a reluctant one on his behalf—was a poetic one. Bono felt songs like “Bad” and “Pride In The Name of Love” were best left as incomplete “sketches” and said that “The Unforgettable Fire was a beautifully out-of-focus record, blurred like an impressionist painting, very unlike a billboard or an advertising slogan.” 

Typical of the album, the track “The Unforgettable Fire”, with a string arrangement by Noel Kelehan, has a rich, symphonic sound built from ambient guitar and driving rhythm; a lyrical “sketch” that is an “emotional travelogue” with a “heartfelt sense of yearning”. Bono tried to describe the rush and then come down of heroin use in the song “Bad”.

“Elvis Presley and America” is an improvisation (based on a slowed-down backing track from “A Sort of Homecoming”) that takes the album’s emphasis on feeling over clarity to its furthest extreme. Another song, “Indian Summer Sky”, was a social commentary on the prison-like atmosphere of city living in a world of natural forces


The Unforgettable Fire was released on 1 October 1984. The album took its name and much of its inspiration from an exhibition of paintings and drawings at The Peace Museum in Chicago by survivors of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.The castle depicted on the cover is Moydrum Castle. 


“Pride (In the Name of Love)” was released as the album’s lead single in November 1984, and it was at that point the band’s biggest hit. It cracked the UK Top 5 and the U.S. Top 40 and would ultimately become the group’s second-most frequently played song in concerts.[13]

“The Unforgettable Fire” was released as the second single in April 1985. The song became the band’s third Top 10 hit in the UK, reaching #6 on the UK Singles Chart and #8 on the Dutch singles chart, but it was yet to break them into the U.S.

25th Anniversary edition

A remastered 25th Anniversary edition of the album is set to be released on October 27, 2009 by Mercury Records, similar to the re-release of The Joshua Tree in 2007. The release was first announced through advertisements on bags distributed at shows during the band’s U2 360° Tour in June 2009.[14] The album’s remastering was directed by The Edge, who also directed the remastering of the band’s previous releases. Four physical editions of the album will be available, two of which contain a bonus CD, and one with a DVD. The bonus CD will feature B-sides from the album, live tracks, and two previously unreleased songs — “Disappearing Act” and “Yoshino Blossom”. The DVD will feature live footage of the band as well as a documentary about the album. The four editions are as follows:

  • CD format – Remastered album on CD
  • Deluxe Edition – Remastered album on CD, bonus CD, and 36-page booklet
  • Limited Edition Box Set – Remastered album on CD, bonus CD, DVD, 56-page hardback book, and five photographs
  • 12” vinyl format – Remastered album on a gramophone record and 16-page booklet
  • Track listing





“A Sort of Homecoming”  



“Pride” (sample)






“The Unforgettable Fire”  






“4th of July”  






“Indian Summer Sky”  



“Elvis Presley and America”  






  • In 1985, the band also released the supplementary Wide Awake in America EP, which offers live performances of “Bad” and “A Sort of Homecoming” along with two B-sides (previously unavailable in North America).

Updated from U2 Site:

Special formats of The Unforgettable Fire will feature bonus audio material and a DVD including music videos, a documentary and unreleased live footage from the Amnesty International Conspiracy of Hope Tour in 1986. Here’s the 16 track listing for :

The Unforgettable Fire Bonus Audio CD.

Disappearing Act
A Sort of Homecoming (live)
Bad (live)
Love Comes Tumbling
The Three Sunrises
Yoshino Blossom
Wire (Kervorkian Remix)
Boomerang I
Pride (In The Name of Love)
A Sort of Homecoming
11 O’Clock Tick Tock
Wire (Celtic Dub Mix)
Basa Trap
Boomerang II
4th of July
Sixty Seconds in Kingdom Come

And The Unforgettable Fire DVD Collection looks like this:

The Unforgettable Fire
Directed by Meiert Avis

Directed by Barry Devlin

Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Directed by Donald Cammell

A Sort Of Homecoming
Directed by Barry Devlin

The Making Of The Unforgettable Fire - documentary
Directed by Barry Devlin

Additional Material

U2 at A Conspiracy Of Hope Concert
1. MLK
2. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
3. Bad
Recorded live at Giants Stadium, New Jersey, USA, 15th June 1986

U2 at Live Aid
1. Sunday Bloody Sunday 2. Bad
Recorded live at Wembley Stadium, 13th July 1985

Pride (In The Name Of Love) - Sepia version
Directed by Donald Cammell

11 O’Clock Tick Tock - Bootleg version
Live from Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland, 29th June 1985

Looks like a great collection to go with the remastered album.