"No Line on the Horizon" - U2

Album (Original Release)

Track Listing:

Alternative Tracks:

Some copies also came with “Linear” a movie by Anton Corbijn. See individual entry for “Linear”.
UK Versions on iTunes came with a video titled “Fez – Being Born”.

Background Information

The album No Line on the Horizon was the 2009 studio album released by U2. The title is taken from the song of the same name, which is the lead track on the album. Initial recording for the album took place with producer Rick Rubin in 2006, but much of that material was shelved. Between May 2007 and December 2008, U2 worked with Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno not only as producers, but as collaborators and members of the songwriting team in studios in New York, London, Dublin, and in Morocco. In Morocco, the group developed songs with a variety of local musicians using traditional instruments. The recording studio was a courtyard in a Moroccan riad. Larry spoke about those sessions: “The work we did in Fez was the most joyous and liberating part of the whole album process. It was what I had always imagined being in U2 would be about: just playing music for the joy of it with no real end in sight. It was chaotic at times but even the chaos was creative.” Brian Eno and Danny Lanois are listed as producers throughout the album, with the exception of “Cedars of Lebanon,” which was produced by Lanois alone, and “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” and “Breathe,” which were produced by Steve Lillywhite. Additionally, will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, Declan Gaffney, Carl Glanville and Lillywhite, Eno and Lanois are all listed under “additional production” throughout the album.

Initial plans called for the album to be released as a double EP in 2008. Later plans called for a double album release in October of that year, with one disc being “Daylight” and the other “Darkness,” and later “Sunrise” and “Sunset.” The album was postponed, with the band quoted in the press as saying that they needed more time to write material. These final sessions resulted in many changes to the album, including the final development of “I’ll Go Crazy” and the completion of “Stand Up Comedy.” Right to the end, “Fez” was being referred to as “Tripoli,” while “Winter” and “Every Breaking Wave” were included on early review copies. When the album was finally released in February 2009, it had been trimmed to a single disc. However, in promotional interviews the band mentioned that the remainder of the material would soon be released as a second album, “Songs of Ascent.” As of 2013, this second album remains unreleased.

The finished album was set for release on February 27, 2009 in Dublin, and the following Monday, March 2 in the UK and Europe. The North American release would follow a day later on March 3. Universal Music took significant steps to stop the album from leaking online ahead of these release dates. Review copies for journalists were watermarked with the identity of the reviewer to whom they were sent. In many cases, pre-release listening sessions were held for groups of critics, rather than sending CDs to individuals. All of these measures proved futile, however, as Universal Music ended up leaking the album themselves. The Australian site getmusic.com.au, a branch of Universal Music, put the entire album up for sale digitally almost two weeks before the official release date. It became available in many corners of the Internet even though getmusic moved quickly to remove it from the web site.

The cover of the album is a black-and-white photograph by Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto, taken in 1993 and titled “Boden Sea” (Lake Constance in Europe). Bono spoke of looking out at the sea from his house in Dublin and seeing the sea and sky blend together, which inspired the lyrics for the song “No Line on the Horizon.” He felt that Sugimoto’s image captured the feeling of the album title. A deal was reached between the band and Sugimoto in which he could use the music from No Line on the Horizon in his future projects, and U2 could use the photograph. Sugimoto explains, “there is no commercial aspect to my relation with U2. No cash is involved. People thought that I was in some sort of financial trouble.” Sugimoto did make one request, relating what he told Bono: “Are you sure? If you use it you won’t be able to put anything on top of it, not even the U2 name.” Accordingly, the image itself is unadorned on all official album formats, although in many cases, a silver or grey “=” icon is applied to the outer CD case or to the shrink-wrap. The album art was designed by Four5One Creative (currently called Amp Visual), which has handled much of the design work for U2 dating back to the band’s earliest days.

The album was released in a number of different packages. The standard CD version came in a jewel case with a 24-page booklet containing black-and-white photos. A limited release digipak version contained a 36-page booklet with different photos, many of them containing colour imagery from Anton Corbijn’s film Linear (see below) as well as a poster that would unfold but remained glued in the digipak. This version was housed in a clear plastic slipcase with the “=” icon emblazoned on the front. A “magazine format” featured the album on CD, enclosed in the front cover of a 60-page magazine. A “box format” contained the album on CD, as well as a 64-page hard cover book (with content primarily mirroring that of the magazine) and a fold-out poster. Also included in the set was a DVD of Anton Corbijn’s film Linear. (The digipak and magazine formats of the album included access to a download of the film rather than a DVD.) The album was also made available on a 2-disc vinyl set with gatefold sleeve and 16-page booklet. Australian and Japanese pressings of the standard CD included “No Line on the Horizon 2,” an alternate version of the title track, as a bonus track.

Digital releases of the album were available on iTunes worldwide, as well as on Amazon and other retailers. A lossless audio version was sold at U2.com. Customers who pre-ordered the digital album from Amazon in North America received two bonus tracks, “No Line on the Horizon 2” (which had also featured as a b-side to “Get On Your Boots”), and “Get On Your Boots (Crookers Remix).” In the UK “Get On Your Boots (Crookers Remix)” could be bought individually as a single prior to the album release. The digital deluxe edition in Europe included two video files, the full version of the movie Linear and a 4:40 video titled “Fez.” This clip featured footage of U2 recording the album in Fez, Morocco, including laying down the vocal tracks for “Unknown Caller” and the instrumental development of “Magnificent.” This video was not made available in North America.

The Anton Corbijn film Linear was an attempt to add value to the purchase of the album in an age where digital piracy was rampant. Corbijn was commissioned in 2008 to create the film using music from the album. Based on a plot by Bono and Corbijn, the film follows a different order than the album, and is representative of the album’s running order and track list as envisioned by the band in May of 2008. The film opens with “Unknown Caller” and includes an additional song, “Winter,” that did not end up being included on the final album release. The song “I”ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” did not make it into the movie, as it was one of the last tracks added to the album.

Three singles were released to promote No Line on the Horizon. The lead single, released worldwide, was “Get On Your Boots.” The second single, “Magnificent” was released physically in Europe and—for the first time in many years—in the USA, but was not released in many countries that typically received U2 singles in physical form. The final single was “I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight,” which, again was not released physically in many countries but which did see a physical CD single in North America. A box was issued through a mail program, which contained room to hold four 7” singles, but in the end, only three singles were released. It was rumored that both “Unknown Caller” and “Moment of Surrender” were being considered for a final single from the album. Videos were released for all three songs. “I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” was also loaned to Blackberry for a promotional campaign, and was heavily featured in advertisements for the company. Blackberry also sponsored The U2360 Tour. During the promotion of No Line on the Horizon the U2 fan club also issued a remix album titled Artificial Horizon on CD, and a limited triple vinyl set that could be purchased commercially. Finally, for Record Store Day in 2010, U2 issued a vinyl EP titled “Wide Awake in Europe” featuring three tracks recorded during The U2360 Tour.

In concert to date, U2 has performed “Unknown Caller,” “Breathe,” “I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight,” “No Line on the Horizon,” “Magnificent,” “Get On Your Boots,” and “Moment of Surrender.” These were featured nightly in early legs of The U2360 Tour, but for the final legs “Unknown Caller,” “Breathe,” and “No Line on the Horizon” were all cut from the set list, with “Magnificent” making only sporadic appearances. As of the completion of The U2360 Tour, U2 has not performed “Cedars of Lebanon,” “Stand Up Comedy,” “Fez–Being Born” or “White as Snow” in concert. The U2360 Tour is documented in the video release U2360 Live from the Rose Bowl, and on two fan club CD releases, U22 and From the Ground Up: Edge’s Picks. Both contain songs from the No Line on the Horizon album.

Upon release, the album received generally favourable reviews, and debuted at #1 in 30 countries. Sales of the album were less than anticipated, however, and the band expressed disappointment in those sales compared to previous albums. However, upon the release of Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto in 2011, Billboard magazine was using No Line on the Horizon as the measure of success for rock album sales, noting that Coldplay’s album had not sold as well as U2’s. Like the album itself, the singles from No Line on the Horizon did not make a dramatic mark on the charts. Nevertheless, the album was awarded the Grammy for Best Rock Album in 2010. Rolling Stone also placed the album at the #1 spot in its list of the Best Albums of 2009.

A number of songs developed for No Line on the Horizon did not make the final cut of the album. The aforementioned “Winter,” which can be heard in the Linear film, was later reworked into a new studio version and included in the film Brothers (a soundtrack CD for that movie was not released). “North Star,” “Mercy,” “Every Breaking Wave,” and “Boy Falls from the Sky” were all developed during the sessions for No Line on the Horizon and all were performed live during The U2360 Tour, despite not appearing on the album. The song “Soon” started live as “Kingdom of My Love” and was the music played over the PA system while the band took the stage during the early legs of The U2360 Tour. A studio version was included on a 7” vinyl accompanying the collectors box of U2360 Live from the Rosebowl. Other songs mentioned in interviews pertaining to the recording sessions include “The Sacred Heart of Malibu,” “Mother of Pearl,” “If I Could Live My Life Again,” and “Love is All We Have Left.”

Several songs were renamed along the way. “Fez–Being Born” was originally known as “Chromium Chords” and then “Tripoli.” “Magnificent” started life as “French Disco.” “I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” was taken from an earlier song called “Diorama.” “Get on Your Boots” went through iterations as “Four Letter Word,” “Sexy Boots” and “Get Your Boots On.” “Stand Up Comedy” was also known alternately as “Stand Up” or “For Your Love.”

Liner Notes

<blockquote></blockquote>No Line on the Horizon:
Music by U2, Brian Eno and Danny Lanois. Lyrics by Bono. Produced by Brian Eno and Danny Lanois. Additional production by Steve Lillywhite. Engineered by Richard Rainey. Assisted by Chris Heaney. Additional engineering by Carl Glanville and Cenzo Townshend. Mixed by Cenzo Townshend. Assisted by Neil Comber.

Magnificent:
Music by U2, Brian Eno and Danny Lanois. Lyrics by Bono and The Edge. Produced by Brian Eno and Danny Lanois. Additional production by Steve Lillywhite. Engineered by Richard Rainey. Assisted by Chris Heaney. Additional engineering by Carl Glanville, Declan Gaffney and Dave Emery. Mixed by Cenzo Townshend. Assisted by Neil Comber. Additional keyboards by Terry Lawless, Bono and will.i.am.

Moment of Surrender:
Music by U2, Brian Eno, Danny Lanois. Lyrics by Bono. Produced by Brian Eno and Danny Lanois. Engineered by Richard Rainey. Assisted by Chris Heaney. Additional engineering by Declan Gaffney and Carl Glanville. Mixed by Danny Lanois and Declan Gaffney. Assisted by Tom Hough, Dave Clauss, and Dave Emery. Additional keyboards: Terry Lawless. Cello: Caroline Dale.

Unknown Caller:
Music and lyrics by U2, Brian Eno and Danny Lanois, Produced by Brian Eno and Danny Lanois, Additional production by Steve Lillywhite. Engineered by Richard Rainey. Assisted by Chris Heaney. Additional engineering by Carl Glanville and Declan Gaffney. Mixed by Danny Lanois and Declan Gaffney. Assisted by Dave Emery, Dave Clauss and Tom Hough. Additional keyboards by Terry Lawless. French Horn: Richard Watkins

I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight:
Music by U2. Lyrics by Bono. Produced by Steve Lillywhite. Additional production by will.i.am. Engineered by CJ Eiriksson. Assisted by Tom Hough. Additional engineering by Declan Gaffney. Mixed by Steve Lillywhite and CJ Eiriksson. Assisted by Dave Emery. Cello: Caroline Dale. Violin: Cathy Thompson. Additional keyboards by Terry Lawless and will.i.am

Get On Your Boots:
Music by U2. Lyrics by Bono. Produced by Brian Eno and Danny Lanois. Additional production by Declan Gaffney. Engineered by Richard Rainey. Additional engineering by Declan Gaffney and Carl Glanville. Mixed by Declan Gaffney. Keyboards by Terry Lawless. Additional percussion by Sam O’Sullivan

Stand Up Comedy:
Music by U2. Lyrics by Bono. Produced by Brian Eno and Danny Lanois. Additional production by Steve Lillywhite. Engineered by CJ Eiriksson and Richard Rainey. Assisted by Dave Emery, Tom Hough and Dave Clauss. Additional engineering by Declan Gaffney. Mixed by Steve Lillywhite and CJ Eiriksson
Assisted by Dave Emery, Tom Hough and Dave Clauss

Fez – Being Born:
Music by U2, Brian Eno and Danny Lanois. Lyrics by Bono. Produced by Brian Eno and Danny Lanois. Engineered by Richard Rainey, Declan Gaffney, Dave Emery and Tony Mangurian. Assisted by Dave Clauss and Chris Heaney. Additional engineering by Florian Ammon. Assisted by Kevin “Kevo” Wilson. FEZ: Mixed by Declan Gaffney, Dave Emery and Brian Eno. Assisted by Tom Hough. Being Born: Mixed by Richard Rainey. Additional mixing by Declan Gaffney. Programming by Tony Mangurian and Brian Eno. Additional keyboards by Terry Lawless. Boy Soprano: Louis Watkins

White as Snow:
Lyrics by U2 with Brian Eno and Danny Lanois. Music: Traditional, arrangement by U2 with Brian Eno and Danny Lanois. Produced by Brian Eno and Danny Lanois. Engineered by Richard Rainey and Declan Gaffney. Assisted by Chris Heaney. Mixed by Declan Gaffney. Assisted by Tom Hough. French Horn: Richard Watkins

Breathe:
Music by U2. Lyrics by Bono. Produced by Steve Lillywhite. Additional production by Danny Lanois and Brian Eno. Engineered by Declan Gaffney. Assisted by Tom Hough. Additional engineering by CJ Eiriksson. Mixed by Steve Lillywhite and CJ Eiriksson. Assisted by Dave Emery. Additional keyboards by Terry Lawless. Cello: Caroline Dale

Cedars of Lebanon:
Music by U2, Brian Eno and Danny Lanois. Lyrics by Bono. Produced by Danny Lanois. Engineered by Tony Mangurian. Assisted by Chris Heaney. Additional engineering by Declan Gaffney and Richard Rainey. Mixed by Danny Lanois and Declan Gaffney. Assisted by Dave Clauss. Featuring Harold Budd. Cedars of Lebanon” includes a sample of the recording “Against The Sky” performed by Harold Budd and Brian Eno from the album “The Pearl” (Virgin/EMI 1984 – ENOCD13). The composition “Cedars of Lebanon” contains elements from “Against the Sky” written Harold Budd and Brian Eno.

Full Album:
Bono. Vocals and Guitar. The Edge: Guitar, vocals and piano. Adam Clayton: Bass Guitar. Larry Mullen Jr: Drums and Percussion. Brian Eno: Rhythm Loops, programming, synthesizers and vocals. Danny Lanois: Guitar and vocals. Terry Lawless: Additional piano, Fender Rhodes, and keyboards. Produced by Brian Eno, Danny Lanois and Steve Lillywhite. Recorded at HQ, Riad El Yacout in Fez, Platinum Sound Recording Studios in New York and Olympic Studios in London.

Mastering: John Davis at Metropolis Mastering, London. Audio post production, Co-ordination and Quality Control: Cheryl Engels at Partial Productions.

Artwork

Cover photograph: Hiroshi Sugimoto – Boden Sea, Uttwil
Photography by Anton Corbijn.
Designed by Shaughn McGrath at Four5One Creative, Dublin
Consultant: Steve Averill

Recognition and Awards

#6, The Best Selling Albums of 2009 Worldwide (IFPI, 2010) #8, The Best Selling Internet Albums of 2009 in the USA (IFPI, 2010)
Listed in Q Magazines Ten Recordings of the Year (Q Magazine, 2009) #114, Q Magazine’s 250 Best Albums of Q’s Lifetime (Q Magazine, February 2011) #1, Best Album of 2009 (Rolling Stone, Critics Picks, 2009) #36, Albums of the Decade 2000-2009 (Rolling Stone, 2010) #32, Best Albums of 2009 (Spin Magazine, 2009) #1, Best Irish Album (Hot Press Awards, 2010)
Nominated, but did not win, Best Rock Album (Grammy Awards, 2010) #4, Best Irish Albums of 2009 (Irish Independent, 2010)

Related Promotional Videos

Related News

Catalog of Releases