Amusing Beatles fact: during the White Album sessions in 1968, 105 takes of a song named “Not Guilty” were laid down; naturally, with that many versions, it ended up heavily bootlegged. But that song not only failed to turn up on the self-titled Beatles album that November, it failed to turn up on any Beatles release. I mention this because, whilst not as extreme, “Salome” almost gets to that extreme. There are endless versions floating around out there, some stretching to well over ten minutes, and all clearly possessing the “Zoo Station” bassline. And that’s obviously the difference between U2 and The Beatles – where “Not Guilty” was a largely wasted effort (it later turned up on a George Harrison album in 1979, when his star had faded), “Salome” pretty much inspired a quarter of Achtung Baby, those re-versions spinning off ideas that ended up elsewhere.

Whilst the lyrics aren’t anything especially new – pleading love song filtered through Bible story – it’s really the song as a factory of ideas that makes it most interesting, a kind of weird postmodern piece of formless sonics that can always be changed again. Inevitably it was – the Zooromancer Remix turned up on Melon in 1995, which certainly makes the whole thing more streamlined, like something you could actually sell to the public outright, not stick on the b-side of a song it probably also span off, “Even Better Than The Real Thing”. Essentially, the two official versions (b-side and remix) arguably work as follows: remix for actual listening pleasure, and b-side for intellectual intrigue.


~ by 4trak on June 11, 2008.

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