Get On Your Boots

WARNING: As a still-current song, opinion may yet change and significant alterations to the post may occur as said opinion changes or new details emerge.

Well, this has caused a stir. It seems that no-one can decide whether this is a “Vertigo” retread or something new. Well let’s look at the facts – first of all, where “Vertigo”‘s riff is very much a chorded blooze-rock piece, “Get On Your Boots”, whilst ostensibly Led Zeppelin-ish (but with slightly “Fly”-esque wah effect), actually has most to do with “Discotheque”, only the distortion here allows it to roll and flow too much to render it too similar. Edge also goes and plays chords (D and G) in the verses, which wasn’t present on “Vertigo”, and the chorus is actual weirdly atonal, all major-triad chromaticism that completely flips what would be a cliched lyric (You don’t know how beautiful you are) into a deeply strange sentiment indeed. I assume, of course, that what I’ve quoted is a chorus, because the titular refrain might well count too. Outside of these riffs, Edge also adds various fret noises, a bit of extra jangle at the end, and some classic Boy U2 riffage in the bridge, some feedback to finish the song, and what must surely be the shortest guitar solo ever – at six notes, he’s surely gunning for the job of being Kirk Hammett’s arch nemesis.

So the “Vertigo”-retread theory is demolished here, because it’s taken 200 words to largely describe one band member’s efforts here. Indeed, arguably the only true, completely valid  similarity is in tempo, in which this song crams ten extra beats per minute over “Vertigo”‘s 140bpm. “Vertigo” contained no overdubs for at least the first two minutes, whereas this has them before the first line, and then adds various beats and percussion, a glockenspeil and the sound of leather rubbing. Larry’s drumming is layered and driving, but such is the detail that it just about makes an impression, until the bridge where that impression suddenly becomes huge, the terse echo slightly disguising that this might be an overdubbed job too. It might sound great live, but the bigger question is how it’ll be done without huge alterations. Maybe it can’t.

Adam seems to have shifted least since 2005, and his bassline does initially double the verse riff, but on the chorus it shifts into something more independent, a faster version of the sort of thing that happens on “With Or Without You” where 8th/16th note runs on one note combine. It also drifts in and out of fuzz, which is relatively new and different, as Adam often seems to be the eye of the storm, simply getting on with dealing with the low end without getting caught up in the other three’s madness. It seems here, however, that even he isn’t safe.

As usual, the biggest contention so far seems to be about Bono; are his lyrics a rip from Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan or (from detractors, it seems) 80s one-hit wonders Escape Club? We could say it sounds like R.E.M.’s “It’s The End of the World…”, but frankly, to make any of these lazy comparisons is boneheaded  – why not simply say that it’s a stream-of-consciousness lyric? And like a stream-of-conciousness lyric, it pulls out all kinds of odd juxtapositions, including Satan, suicide bombers, funfairs, liberal feminism, ice cream and submarines, not to mention the sly, overt humour and irony (see Bono’s recent message to Obama) of the line I don’t wanna talk about wars between nations – not right now! It’s a headspinning mix, unafraid to be somewhat gauche, and it crams more into three and a half minutes than anything off the last two albums. Is this the return to the 90s? In spirit, yes, but the song is overall one but not the same. Quite simply, I welcome the band back, and I’d say it’s the best U2 song this decade.

Also, the video is mental.


~ by 4trak on January 23, 2009.

One Response to “Get On Your Boots”

  1. Hear! Hear! Great review — all the technical stuff gave way to a great impressionistic overview of the song. I must admit to losing interest in this band in 2000, having thought that two weak songs on POP (“If God Would Send His Angels” and “The Playboy Mansion”) could by no means predict their utter vapidity with the subsequent two LPs. After buying every album, single, bootleg, video, tourbook and even a ZOO TV condom… I didn’t think it possible that I’d purchase “All That You Can’t Leave Behind,” and then leave it behind in a used record store a year later. “Atom Bomb” lasted on my shelf ever shorter. U2’s flirtation with current sounds, and their blathering on in experimental circles (both musically and ideologically) is what made them so fuckin’ cool to witness in the ’90s. I welcome that back, even if the squeamish shall squirm…

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