"(Ǎhk-to͝ong Bāy-Bi) Covered" - Various Artists
U2 Related Content:
Full Track Listing:
- Zoo Station – Nine Inch Nails (6:27)
- Even Better Than the Real Thing (Jacques Lu Cont Mix) – U2 (6:41)
- One – Damien Rice (5:25)
- Until the End of the World – Patti Smith (3:36)
- Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses – Garbage (5:17)
- So Cruel – Depeche Mode (6:02)
- The Fly – Gavin Friday (4:15)
- Mysterious Ways – Snow Patrol (4:48)
- Tryin’ To Throw Your Arms Around the World – The Fray (4:33)
- Ultra Violet (Light My Way) – The Killers (4:52)
- Acrobat – Glasvegas (4:08)
- Love is Blindness – Jack White (3:18)
In 2011, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of “Achtung Baby” U2 re-released the album as a deluxe edition. As part of the promotion for the album, Q Magazine featured U2 on the cover of their December 2011 magazine (released on October 25, 2011) and that issue of the magazine came with an exclusive CD of “Achtung Baby” songs covered by various artists. It also included a new mix of “Even Better Than the Real Thing” by Jacques Lu Cont which had been done in preparation to release that song again as a single to promote the album, a plan that was eventually cancelled.
Bono first announced the CD while promotion of the movie “From the Sky Down” was taking place at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Jack White does ‘Love Is Blindness,’ Depeche Mode do ‘So Cruel,’ Patti Smith did ‘Until the End of the World,’ Damien Rice does ‘One.’ It just goes on. And it’s strange, because when I hear the album, when U2 do it, all I hear is what’s wrong with it. But when I heard all these artists doing it, I thought, ‘It’s really good.’” said Bono as he described the Q CD for the first time. The Edge would be asked about the CD during an interview and would reply as follows: “I love it. I love it. We talked to some of the artists about what they were doing, and everyone went in with the same spirit of just taking a new angle on some of these songs, and I’ve been blown away. I mean some of the performances are incredible, Jack White particularly, but Snow Patrol, Depeche Mode, Patti Smith, have turned in some incredible performances of these songs. So it’s just great fun to hear them interpreted by someone else.” When asked about his favorite track, The Edge replied, “I got, I think probably the Jack White, that would probably be the one I’m” most connected, or the Patti Smith”
The editor of Q Magazine, Paul Rees, had the following to say about the compilation: “It is always Q’s intention to present a unique take on music. At a time when free CDs have become ten-a-penny, I strongly believe the AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered album sets a new, and much higher, benchmark for the format. Not only in the sense that each of the tracks are brand new recordings by some of the biggest and most iconic names in music such as Jack White, Nine Inch Nails and Patti Smith, but also in that several of them mark the first new material we have heard from these acts in a long time – such as those by The Killers, Damien Rice and Garbage. This is an entirely appropriate way to mark Q’s anniversary and that of Achtung Baby, one of the pivotal albums in our lifetime.”
Q Magazine is a UK magazine, and the initial distribution of the CD was originally intended for the UK market through sales of the CD only. Reports circulated that the CD was not cleared for a release outside of the UK, and that the CD was being stripped from magazines prior to the magazine going on sale outside of the UK. For a short period of a few days, U2.com made the CD available for sale through the website to an international audience, however, that offer was quickly removed. Orders were fulfilled, although not until the end of November after the CD had been listed as being on “back order” for a month. There are two covers to the magazine’s December 2011 issue which included the CD. One is a close up of Bono, showing just his face without his usual glasses. This was the cover mailed to subscribers. The other cover featured all four members of U2, which is the version sold on newstands. The CD itself was attached to the cover with an overleaf, which left Bono the only band member visible on the group cover. Both images used for covers are included within the article inside the magazine.
There was such demand for international versions of the CD that release clearance was give for the tracks to be sold on iTunes worldwide. The tracks are not available individually, and you had to buy the entire album to receive the tracks. The album went on sale through iTunes on November 15, 2011. A portion of all sales of the album ($6.93US) were donated to Concern, an Ireland-based non-profit organization that provides aid to the world’s poorest countries. “This crisis in East Africa is still very much an emergency and Concern is delighted that all of the parties involved are making this hugely significant contribution to our work in the region,” said Concern CEO, Tom Arnold. “We are honored they have chosen Concern as the exclusive beneficiaries.” Mr. Arnold added: “It is disappointing that such a major ongoing humanitarian situation has largely disappeared from the media headlines. Offering the proceeds from (Ahk-toong Bay-Bi) Covered to Concern’s East Africa appeal also provides a timely reminder that alleviation of the hunger and wider health crisis in the region must not be forgotten and should remain a global priority.”
The remix of “Even Better Than the Real Thing” by U2 is not the only touch of U2 on the CD. On the track “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses” Garbage uses samples from two U2 songs, “Zoo Station” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)”.
Several of the artists who worked on the tracks were asked to comment on the tracks in the magazine itself. Lu Cont who remixed “Even Better than the Real Thing” said “The original multi-tracks gave me an insight into how U2 worked, but I couldn’t be too precious about the track.” Gavin Friday who recorded “The Fly” relates, “The Edge rang me up and said, nobody wants to do “The Fly” – they’re all afraid of it. I think it’s because it has its own essence sonically. It was the lead single and the point of reinvention. U2 said it best: it was the sound of four men chopping down the Joshua Tree. I remember seeing them working on Achtung Baby in it’s early stages. I just put a rocket up their asses and said, Go for it.” Gary Lightbody, lead singer for Snow Patrol discussed slowing down “Mysterious Ways”: “As much as it’s a thrilling live-set stormer we’ve always seen the quiet storm of gospel in Mysterious Ways”. Butch Vig of Garbage discusses choosing “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses”: “Achtung Baby was a huge influence on the first Garbage album. It’s groovy and gritty, epic and intimate, hi-fi and lo-fi, industrial and orchestral. We picked this song because we love the lyrics. We stripped the verses down and changed the major chord to minor chord which makes the lyrics more bittersweet. And Martin Gore of Depeche Mode discusses recording “So Cruel”: “We first heard Achtung Baby working on “Songs of Faith and Devotion” with Flood. It was the closest our bands ever got: U2 had become more electronic while Depeche Mode were working on a new rock vision. But there was never a rivalry. Bono used reverse psychology in his email, saying he totally understood why we’d say no. We just thought, ‘Why not?’ “So Cruel” is Bono at his best, words-wise. And we couldn’t tackle “One” – that would be almost sacrilegious.”
Zoo Station – Nine Inch Nails:
Produced by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Performance by Trent Reznor. Programming by Atticus Ross. Mixed by Alan Moulder. Mastered by Tom Baker, Precision Mastering, Hollywood, CA. Engineered by Blumpy.
Even Better Than the Real Thing (Jacques Lu Cont Mix) – U2:
Produced by Steve Lillywhite with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. Remixed by Jacques Lu Cont at Tracques London.
One – Damien Rice:
Recorded and produced by Damien Rice (at home studio in Ireland). Piano: Luke Slott. Backing vocals: Julia Dubsky. Cello: Vyvienne Long. Vocal, guitar, bass, clarinet: Damien Rice.
Until the End of the World – Patti Smith:
Produced by Tony Shanahan. Piano: Jesse Paris Smith. Guitar: Jackson Smith. Double bass: Tony Shanahan. Recorded at Electric Lady Studios. Engineer: Iestyn Polson.
Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses – Garbage:
Produced by Garbage. Engineered by Billy Bush. Recorded at Red razor Sounds, Atwater Village, CA. Mixed by Billy Bush and Garbage. Mastered by Emily Lazar and Joe LaPorta at The Lodge. Shirley Manson: Vocals. Duke Erikson: Guitars and keyboards. Steve Marker: Guitars and keyboards. Butch Vig: Drums and loops. Bass: Justin Meldal-Johnsen. Contains samples from U2’s “Zoo Station” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)”.
So Cruel – Depeche Mode:
Produced by Depeche Mode. Mixed by Depeche Mode and Sie Medway-Smith. Engineered by Sie Medway-Smith. Vocals recorded by Kurt Uenala.
The Fly – Gavin Friday:
Produced and mixed by Declan Gaffney. Arranged by Gavin Friday and Declan Gaffney. Assisted by Ronan Phelan. Vocals by Gavin Friday. Programing by Declan Gaffney and Mitch Davis. Bass and guitars by Declan Gaffney and Mitch Davis. Drums by Alex Wyer.
Mysterious Ways – Snow Patrol:
Produced and mixed by John McDaid.
Acrobat – Glasvegas:
Glasvegas performed and recorded ‘Acrobat’ live at Gorbals Sounds, Glasgow. Produced by James Allan. Engineered by Cameron Malcolm. Assistant Engineer: Christopher Brown. Vocals: James Allan. Guitar: Rab Allan. Drums: Jonna Lofgren. Bass: Paul Donoghue.
Love is Blindness – Jack White:
Vocals, Organ: Jack White. Drums: Ben Blackwell. Acoustic guitar, bass: Kevin Childress. Recorded at Third Man Studio in Nashville TN by Vance Powell. Assisted by Mindy Watts. Produced by Jack White III and Vance Powel. Mixed by Vance Powell, assisted by Joshua V. Smith.
Design by Shaughn McGrath, AMP Visual.com.
Cover Illustration by Charlie Whisker. Photographed by Richie Smyth.