U2 releases special edition Notre Dame ‘Songs of Surrender’ vinyl
Frank Paquette | Friday, April 14, 2023
On Saint Patrick’s Day this year, the Irish rock band U2 released their new album, “Songs of Surrender,” on a limited edition Notre Dame-inspired vinyl. While the tracks on the record themselves are an exciting showcase of the band’s range and timeless quality, the “Notre Dame-ness” of the graphics on the product itself leaves something to be desired.
First, I want to discuss the physical record, which drew me to purchasing the album in the first place. I must admit, seeing a U2 product with any connection to Notre Dame is a thrill. It’s a strong choice for anyone collecting vinyls or Notre Dame paraphernalia, but the Notre Dame-inspired vinyl is only that—inspired. The large ND logo and “Notre Dame edition Vinyl” that was advertised to be on the front of the cover came off with the plastic packaging, which left me feeling a bit deceived. I often use the album cover as a wall-piece, and outside of its packaging, it barely connects to the Fighting Irish. The only two explicit references to Notre Dame are tiny ND logos on the vinyls and a poster that says “U2 Songs of Surrender: Notre Dame edition” and has an ND logo the size of a quarter. The blue and gold vinyls and ND-colored art make the product well worth the purchase, but it definitely pulls its punches and is not the perfect balance of Notre Dame and U2 spirit you might be hoping for.
The music itself from “Songs of Surrender” can best be described in one word: surprising. The Notre Dame edition of the album consists of 16 re-recorded timeless U2 songs, and presents them with an acoustic, new feel that strays radically from the band’s original work. “If God Will Send His Angels,” the song that benefited most from the makeover, is far more cleaned-up than the original 1997 version. It’s rid of foreign electric noise and replaced with a piano that transforms the song from a sneaky experiment to a truly unforgettable prayer, demanding a place in the band’s pantheon of songs. Those great songs themselves also beat to a new proverbial drum in this album as “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” turns from an epic ballad to a gentle lullaby, and “Where the Streets Have No Name” demonstrates the band’s capability to create something new and exciting out of a tried-and-true legend.
On the Notre Dame edition vinyl, the album’s content and style truly matches its medium. With its new acoustic, authentic feel, “Songs of Surrender” shines in the raw sound of a vinyl record. What once belonged on a car stereo or screamed by millions of fans now finds its rightful home on a crackling rotating disk, alluding more to a fairy tale past of stardom than to the glimmering future that U2 so often prophesied. I thought stripping U2’s rock grandeur would remove its appeal, when in reality it left me with a far more fundamental element of U2’s greatness: its poetic spirituality. The simpler instrumentals highlight the integrity of the crisp vocals and immortal songwriting that have driven the band since their beginning. Rather than giving fans another album with the unique style that defined them for decades, U2 invites them with “Songs of Surrender” into a deeply intimate look behind the curtain. It’s raw and original, and a gift to a listener itching to hear in one album the legacy of U2. It’s a surprise and it’s a joy.
Album: “Songs of Surrender”
Label: Island Records, Interscope Records
Favorite tracks: “If God Will Send His Angels,” “One,” “Where the Streets Have No Name,” “Pride (In the Name of Love)”
If you like: “The Joshua Tree,” “A Rush of Blood to the Head,” “Babel”
Shamrocks: 4 out of 5