B.T.R.C. Record Store Collector's Series adds U2 Innocence + Experience Set!
Songs of Innocence was announced and released as a major Apple event September 9th, 2014. It was the bands 13th album and in many ways represented the end of the compact disc as the preferred method of physical delivery for music. Although the CD had been in decline for several years, when, arguably, the biggest band in the world released exclusively digitally, it became the symbolic nail in the coffin. The release with Apple made the record available at no charge to over 500 million iTunes customers in one day. Apple CEO Tim Cooke touted it as the largest release of all time. It wouldn't be released in physical form (vinyl as well) until October 14th, 2014.
Amazingly, U2 had not released an album since No Line On the Horizon (2009). That makes it roughly five and a half years in-between the two albums; the longest gap in U2's career. So, it is safe to assume that there would have been immense demand for the album had it been released in a traditional manner. The lead single "The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)" was used in a massive promotional campaign by Apple (reportedly north of one hundred million dollars). The song went #1 on Billboard Triple A, #12 on Billboard Rock, and #22 on Billboard Alternative. The result was that an estimated 80 million iTunes users streamed the album in its first month and 26 million downloaded the entire record. By comparison, it only sold 101,000 copies with the release of the physical product.
The album was primarily produced by Danger Mouse (multi Grammy award-winning producer working with artists ranging from Adele to The Black Keys and Gnarls Barkley). Innocence did receive a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Album, but it barely registered any sales stats with the RIAA since most of its downloads were free.
Thematically, the album was to represent the music and sound of their childhood. Basically, the music from the 70's that shaped the bands early music. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Bono described the album this way: "We wanted to make a very personal album. Let's try to figure out why we wanted to be in a band, the relationships around the band, our friendships, our lovers, our family. The whole album is first journeys — first journeys geographically, spiritually, sexually. And that's hard. But we went there." (Rolling Stone, 9/9/2014).
In that same article, Rolling Stone went so far as to call it a "concept album". They worked with Danger Mouse for over two years on this record and still ended up bringing in additional producers Paul Epworth (six Grammys, three BRITs, Academy Award, and two BMA's), Ryan Tedder (One Republic), Declan Gaffney (engineer and mixing on No Line on the Horizon, Achtung Baby, The Joshua Tree, and Unforgettable Fire) Flood (engineer on Joshua Tree , Achtung Baby, and production on Zooropa, Pop, and How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb).
There was some negative press on this album due to the way it was released. Traditional brick and mortar retailers were very upset with the exclusive release iTunes had on the album. Universal ended up releasing a deluxe addition with four extra tracks that were only available at physical retailers. There was also criticism from other artists. Patrick Carney (Black Keys) and Nick Mason (Pink Floyd) saw this as the continuing devaluing of music that started with the digital age of piracy Napster initiated. There was backlash from the percentage of the population that were not customers of iTunes as well as push back from iTunes customers that objected to the album being automatically added to their libraries and downloaded to their devices without their consent. Sure, today its a U2 album, but who will it be tomorrow? Is Apple just going to mandate everyone's playlists?
In spite of all of this criticism surrounding the release through Apple, the band had still delivered another solid U2 album. The second single, "Every Breaking Wave" went #7 on Billboard Triple A. The third single was "Song For Someone" and it went #21 on Billboard Top 40 and #13 on Triple A. Along with the Grammy nomination already mentioned, the album was #1 on the Rolling Stone's 50 Best Albums of 2014. It was #14 on the same list in the Telegraph and #33 in MOJO. Overall, the album was reviewed favorably in most music publications that year.
What may be the most unbelievable fact about this album is Bono announced the next record, Songs of Experience, the same month of the release of Songs of Innocence. In 2015, U2 did what they always do when they release a record; they began a world tour. The tour itself was designed to take you through the theme began on this record, innocence, and would take you through to experience. Even though Songs of Experience wouldn't be released until December 1, 2017, the stage had been set (literally). Only the first act was released and we would wait three years for act two.
Songs of Experience was B.T.R.C.'s Record Of the Month for December last year. You can read more about this great album at our For The Record post on the U2 release. The first single of Experience was "You're the Best Thing About Me". It went #1 on Billboard Triple A and #16 on Top 40. The second single, "Get Out of Your Own Way" is currently at #2 Mediabase Triple A and #2 Billboard Triple A. The record debuted at #1 on Billboard 200. It was #3 Rolling Stone's 50 Best Albums of 2017.
These two albums go together as a collectors set more than almost any set you could put together. They are bookends of the same story and B.T.R.C. is excited to offer them in this Innocence + Experience Collectors set. Both are Double Vinyl Limited Edition 180 Gram. Songs of Innocence is pressed on white vinyl, while Songs of Experience is on translucent-blue vinyl.