"Zooropa" - U2

Album (Original Release)

Track Listing:

Alternate Tracks:

Background Information

Zooropa was the 1993 album by U2. The title is a play on the name “Europa” mixed with the “Zoo” theme from the Zoo TV tour. The album was started in February 1993 during a six-month break between legs on the Zoo TV tour. U2 decided they would make an EP to capture some of the energy they had after the tour stops. The tour was due to restart in May 1993, and they felt an EP would allow them to promote the tour. As work progressed, the band realized they were close to an album, and rather than push out the EP before the start of the tour, they traveled between tour destinations and Dublin to complete mixing and recording of the album.

The album was recorded with Flood and Brian Eno acting as producers, as well as The Edge taking a credit as producer. Preliminary work had been been started with Robbie Adams, while on tour in 1992, recording ideas at soundchecks, and compiling some loops from some of the more interesting parts. The band started recording in The Factory in Dublin in February working on rough demos. In March of 1993, with a full album in their sights, they began to split work between two studios with Robbie Adams handling the recording at The Factory, and Flood handling recording at the new Windmill Lane Studios. Eno was brought in for two week periods to produce and work with songs. Some additional work was done at Westland Studio in Dublin. The album was delivered in late May of 1993.

Some of the creative choices while recording would surprise fans when they would eventually hear the album. The Edge sings vocals on one song, which was chosen as a lead single. And the last song on the album features Johnny Cash singing lead vocals instead of Bono or the Edge. Another surprise is an alarm heard at the end of the album, which was set on some vinyl pressings to run continuously until the listener intervened. On early pressings in France on CD, this alarm was left out completely (see our catalog section below for more information.)

The album was designed by Works Associates of Dublin, under the direction of Steve Averill and Shaughn McGrath. The front cover featured Cosmo, the Achtung Baby that had previously appeared on the CD for Achtung Baby. McGrath took the graffiti by artist Charlie Whisker and cleaned it up to use on the cover. They revisited the grid idea used for Achtung Baby, layering over purple text and then the image of the baby. Twenty songs had been recorded for the album, and this text gave some hints as to the other song titles, although fans didn’t know that at the time. In amongst the words you can see “Wake Up De”, “et Dress”, and “iss Me Kill M” which would all appear at a later date as “Wake Up Dead Man” and “If You Wear that Velvet Dress” from “Pop” and “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” which would be released on the Batman Forever soundtrack. The back cover showed the images uncovered, and these included visuals from the Zoo TV tour, and a variety of treated images.

The album was released on July 5, 1993 during the Zooropa tour, with a release date the next day in North America. The album was released widely on 5-inch CD, cassette and on 12-inch vinyl, and would be the last U2 album to be widely released in various territories on vinyl. The album was also released on the DCC format in the USA.

Three commercial singles were released from the album. “Numb”, the first single, featured the Edge on lead vocal and was released commercially only on VHS as a “video single”. The second single chosen was “Lemon” which was only commercially released on CD in Australia and Japan, but was made available on vinyl in other regions. The final single, “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)” was a more traditional single release was released worldwide, with Europe and Australia getting multiple CD formats, while North America received a six song CD-single. Promotional videos were filmed for all three singles, as well as a remix video of “Numb”.

In concert all of the songs from Zooropa have been performed with the exception of “Some Days are Better than Others”. Many of these songs were introduced to the set list during the 1993 tour after the release of the album. A few have returned to the set list on subsequent tours, including “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)” appearing on the Elevation tour and the U2360° tour, “Zooropa” appearing on the U2360° tour and “The First Time” appearing on the Vertigo tour. “The Wanderer” has only been played in full as part of a TV tribute to Johnny Cash, but it was snippeted during the U2360° tour at a tour stop in Nashville. A live show from November 1993 in Sydney Australia included a number of these Zooropa songs, and was released on home video as “Zoo TV Live from Sydney” in 1994, and later on DVD in 2006. The 2006 u2.com fan club gift included audio from this same performance.

Zooropa reached number one in 17 countries. The album was nominated for and won the Grammy for “Best Alternative Album” at the Grammy Awards. The album received generally positive reviews.

Several songs on Zooropa had developed from alternate songs. “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)” began life under the title “Sinatra”. “The Wanderer” was also known as “Wanderlust” for a period. “Numb” started life during the Achtung Baby sessions as “Down all the Days” but was eventually shelved. When they started working with the track again for the Zooropa sessions, Bono attempted to use his poem “In Cold Blood” over top of the instrumentals but that didn’t work either, and eventually The Edge took the song away and came back with “Numb”. Some other song titles worked on during the sessions include “Nosejob”, “Untidy Life”, “Sparky’s Left the Planet” and “Revolution of the Heart” – it is unknown whether these ideas ever amounted to any other songs later in their career.

One alternate cover idea for the album was very similar to the final product, but did not contain the purple text as a layer between the space baby and the backing images. Another did not contain the backing images but just the purple text in the background. And a final image had no background images at all, just the space baby. At one point the album was going to be called “Dog” and several covers were designed around this title, including one in yellow, with just the title in black on the front with a U2 below. A second was all black, with the “Dog” moved to one side, and “U2” on dog tags pictured in the corner. Another cover shows that the title “God U2 Dog” was also considered, and the cover designed for that was yellow with an icon of a devil with angel wings, and an inverted fire hydrant. The final title, with its play on “Europa” was timely, as during 1993 as they worked on this album, Europe was moving to set up the European Union formally. The twelve yellow stars in a circle on a blue background is the flag of the European Union. This flag was represented by the circle of stars on the cover of the album.

At this time Zooropa has not been part of the re-release album program at this time as a separate stand-alone release on CD. It is expected that the album may be skipped, as it was included as a bonus disc in the Super Deluxe and Uber versions of Achtung Baby when it was re-released in 2011. Neil McCormick reporting on the release of Achtung Baby said the album was not remastered. In answer to queries about Achtung Baby, I went to the source. It hasn’t been remastered because it “didn’t need to be”, apparently … It’s been sonically tweaked & polished but not, technically, remastered. Hope that makes more sense to you than it does to me. I’m just telling you what I’ve been told. Not remastered. But tweaked & boosted. It’s definitely louder.” The Edge also confirmed this saying “All we were able to do is optimize it…because the original is so right”. The same seems to apply to Zooropa as well, as part of the set. The extended 10-disc versions of the “Achtung Baby” re-release included a number of items that related to Zooropa including some remixes of “Lemon” and “Numb” and an early version of the song “Down All the Days” which is “Numb” when Bono was still on vocals. The set also included the “Zoo TV Live from Sydney” DVD. In 2018 a remastered version of Zooropa was issued but only on vinyl with a digital download.

Liner Notes

Bono: Vocals and Guitar. The Edge: Guitar, Piano, Synthesizers and Vocals. Adam Clayton: Bass Guitars. Larry Mullen Jnr: Drums, Percussion, and Backing Vocals. Paul McGuinness: Manager. Studio Crew: Joe O’Herlihy: Monitoring. Des Broadbery: Programming, Keyboard and Guitar Technician. Fraser McAlister: Guitar Technician (Bono). Sam O’Sullivan: Drum Technician. Stuart Morgan: Bass Guitar Technician. Dallas Schoo: Guitar Technician (The Edge). Colm “Rab” McAllister: Studio Tecnician. Suzanne Doyle: Studio Production Manager. Anne-Louise Kelly: Album Production Manager.

Recorded in The Factory, Windmill Lane Studios and Westland Studios, Dublin. Additional Recording Facilities: Terry Cromer & Julian Douglas, Audio Engineering, Dublin. Produced by: Flood, Brian Eno and The Edge. Mixed by: Flood and Robbie Adams. Engineered by: Flood and Robbie Adams. Music: U2. Words: Bono (Except “Dirty Day” Bono and the Edge, “Numb” The Edge.) Recorded in Dublin, March – May 1993.


Album Cover Design by Works Associates (Dublin) Art direction by Steve Averill. Design and Computer treatments by Brian Williams. Baby Illustration by Shaughn McGrath. Origina baby illustration by Charlie Whisker.

Recognition and Awards

  • Q Magazine, Top 100 Albums Readers Poll #90 (January 1998)
  • Top 102 Albums of the 1990s, 102.1 The Edge: #46 (February 1998)
  • #169, Q Magazine’s 250 Best Albums of Q’s Lifetime (Q Magazine, February 2011)
  • Listed, Q Magazine’s Recordings of the Year (Listed under “The Rest” not the Top 10) (Q Magazine, 1993)
  • #69, Top 100 Albums, Rolling Stone Readers Choices (Rolling Stone Magazine, October 2002)
  • #2, Best Album Rolling Stone Critics Picks (Rolling Stone Magazine, 1993, Out of 7)
  • #1, Best Album Rolling Stone Reader’s Picks (Rolling Stone Magazine, 1993, Out of 5)
  • #59, 75 Great Album Cover Designs (New Book of Rock Lists, Marsh and Bernard)
  • Nominated and Won, Best Alternative Music Album (Grammy Awards, 1994)
  • #1, Best Album (Hot Press Music Awards, 1993)
  • #1, Album Sleeve (Hot Press Music Awards, 1993)
  • #1 Love of the Year, U2 – Zooropa (Hot Press Music Awards, 1993)

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