While the band kept up their profile as one of the biggest concert attractions worldwide who waited longer and longer between albums, they and/or their label decided to take the occasional look back. The Best Of 1980-1990, released in the lull following the Pop Mart tour, delivered just that, offering all the hit singles and live staples (save “Gloria”) in no real order, editing some here and there, and cramming all the Rattle And Hum tracks at the end. In keeping with the new tradition, there was one new track, a nice reworking of the Joshua Tree B-side “Sweetest Thing”. You know all the songs already, but as a collection of that first decade, it’s really got everything, even the surprise addition of “October” hidden after “All I Want Is You”. (One big quibble: since the boy from Boy was shown a few years older on War, wouldn’t it have been at the very least intriguing to have a current photo on the cover, instead of another old shot for the pederasts?)
For fans, of course, the real fun was to be had with the supposedly limited edition of the album, which included an hour’s worth of B-sides. Rather than digging up pricey imported singles, fans could now enjoy a seamless run through such buried nuggets as “Luminous Times”, “Spanish Eyes” and the original “Trash, Trampoline And The Party Girl”, and marvel at the instrumentals “Bass Trap” and “Endless Deep”. Of course, they also had to sit through lesser cuts like “Walk To The Water” and the five uninspired covers and two-chord sketches from the Rattle And Hum era. (To date, those five are the only ones yet to have been collected on a Deluxe Edition.)
Such quibbles are moot when the quality of the hits is considered. And since the years in the title only touched on U2’s first ten years, the chances were pretty good that there would be a similarly stacked sequel ere long.
U2 The Best Of 1980-1990 (1998)—4