New Year's Day

Original Soundtrack No. 1
New Year's Day
History of the Band
Under a Blood Red Sky
The Unforgettable Fire
Wide Awake in America
The Joshua Tree
Rattle and Hum
Achtung Baby!
Original Soundtrack No. 1
The Best of 1980 - 1990
Hasta La Vista Baby!
All That You Can't Leave Behind
The Best of 1990-2000
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
U218 Singles

recorded as The Passengers...

This album was recorded by U2 and Brian Eno. It is a collection of songs written for mostly imaginary movies. Because it is highly experimental —bespeaking the increasing influence of Brian Eno on the band —the record company was reluctant to release it as a U2 album, so the epithet The Passengers was devised instead.


Because of the "difficult" nature of the music (the album's sound is fairly similar to that of Radiohead's post-OK Computer albums) and the decision to release it under another name, the album is easily the least known and worst selling in the U2 catalogue. Further, critical reaction from the press, the fans, and even the band members, has been mixed. Drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. is noted for his disgust of the album: "There's a thin line between interesting music and self-indulgence. We crossed it on the Passengers record."


About half of the album is instrumental, and the vocal tracks generally stray from the clear hooks and melodies that usually define U2's work. Of these, the delicate "Miss Sarajevo", featuring Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti on vocals, is considered the most memorable. Reflecting on the album in 1997, Mullen stated, "It hasn't grown on me. However, 'Miss Sarajevo' is a classic."


The album alleges to be a collection of songs written for movies. The booklet contains detailed descriptions of each film for each song, even though many of them are not real (although some, such as Ghost in the Shell and Miss Sarajevo, are).


For example, for "Slug", from the fictional movie of the same name, the description provided is:


Von Heineken's third feature, Slug is an extension of the gritty, photo-realistic style he developed in Alcatura (1984) and Breaking Glass (1986). Deiter, a young car mechanic (Karl Popper) unable to attract the attention of the cashier Nela (Catarena Hofennes) arranges an eloborate hold-up at which he will play the hero by seeing off the 'gangsters' and thus saving Nela. Things start to go badly wrong when the robbers realise that the till is really full of cash, abandon their agreement with Deiter and try to escape with the money, whereupon the escapade developes into a confused shootout during which Nela shoots a security guard in the foot and is subsequently arrested. Racked by guilt for having implicated her, Deiter sets out to secure her release by fair means or foul, seducing the Chief Warden of the woman's prison (Jutta Minnit) in the process.


These descriptions includes many pseudonyms and in-jokes. In this description, "Peter Von Heineken" is a play on "Paul McGuinness", the name of U2's manager, and "Karl Popper" is the name of a philosopher.


The movie descriptions are credited to "Ben O'Rian and C.S.J. Bofop". "Ben O'Rian" is an anagram for "Brian Eno", and "C.S.J. Bofop" is also "Brian Eno" with each letter of the alphabet shifted forward once.


The concept can be seen as something of a successor to Eno's Music for Films album.


"Miss Sarajevo" is based on a real film, a documentary by Bill Carter. It chronicles a beauty pageant held in the midst of war-torn Yugoslavia. From the album's liner notes:


Bill Carter's award-winning documentary Miss Sarajevo chronicles one of the more bizarre events of the war in former Yugoslavia--when several artists mounted an elaborate beauty contest under mortar fire. The camera follows the organizers through the tunnels and cellars of the city, giving a unique insight into life during a modern war, where civilians are the targets. The film captures the dark humour of the besieged Sarajevans, their stubborn refusal to be demoralised, and suggests that surrealism and dadaism are the appropriate responses to fanaticism.


Carter traveled to Sarajevo in the winter of 1993 to offer humanitarian aid and quickly found himself in the heart of the conflict. He lived for six months in a burnt out office building, subsisting on baby food and whatever water he could find in the rivers and sewers and delivering food and medicine to those in need.


He originally contacted U2 while they were on their Zoo TV Tour. Feeling that the western media was ignoring the human aspect of the war, Carter wanted to show audiences the real people involved. The band arranged for several satellite link-ups where Carter gave the locals--who had been cut off from communication with the rest of Europe for about a year and a half at this point--an opportunity to be heard before stadiums of thousands. "The idea was simple, instead of doing what the news does, which is entertain you, I wanted to do something that the news rarely does, make a person care about the issue...I wanted young people in Europe to see the people in the war, I didn't want them see politicians or religious leaders or military spokesmen." --Bill Carter The link-ups were brief and unedited.


He had his camera sent to him from his home in California so he could film the documentary (which has no links to the band aside from the song written for it) with the same goal of exposing people to the individuals living through the war. "The war is just a backdrop, it could be any war, the point is the vitality of the human spirit to survive, [to] laugh, to love, and to move on, that is something we will be addressing always."


The song protests the war in Bosnia, criticizing the international community for its inability to stop the war or help those affected by it. It was the only single released from the album. Its video combines clips from Bill Carter's documentary--which contains some striking imagery, such as a shot of the contestants holding up a banner with the words "DON'T LET THEM KILL US"--with footage from the Passengers' first performance of the song at the 1995 Pavarotti and Friends concert.


In addition to that performance, the song was played once on U2's Popmart Tour in 1997, at the band's Sarajevo show (with Brian Eno). The real Miss Sarajevo--the winner of the original pageant--was in attendence. The song has since been played a number of times on the band's 2005 Vertigo Tour.


The "Miss Sarajevo" music video (with director's commentary) and a brief documentary about U2's Sarajevo concert are available on the DVD edition of The Best of 1990-2000.


   1. "United Colours" (5:31)

   2. "Slug" (4:41)

   3. "Your Blue Room" (5:28)

   4. "Always Forever Now" (6:24)

   5. "A Different Kind of Blue" (2:02)

   6. "Beach Sequence" (3:25)

   7. "Miss Sarajevo" (5:41)

   8. "Ito Okashi" (3:25)

   9. "One Minute Warning" (4:40)

  10. "Corpse (These Chains are Way Too Long)" (3:35)

  11. "Elvis Ate America" (2:59)

  12. "Plot 180" (3:41)

  13. "Theme from The Swan" (3:24)

  14. "Theme from Let's Go Native" (3:07)


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