(The out-of-ten ratings are subject to some serious change but the general opinions on the songs and overall track rankings are pretty solid.)
Vertigo - 7/10
This song isn't exactly earthshattering or innovative, but it is a solid rock song and it's only improved live. It's a good album opener, though deceptive for HTDAAB - it would be more suited to an album of direct rock.
Miracle Drug - 10/10
I absolutely love this song in the studio and I think it's one of the rare songs that doesn't sound as good live. The slide solo, the 'other' solo, and Edge's verse send this soaring into the stratosphere on the album. Sadly, I feel the live version fails to fire.
Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own - 7.5/10
This song rates well for its emotion and its climax - it's just a shame it takes so long to reach the climax! I think this song's main drawback is that it plods too much, and unlike Bad, which builds mood, I feel SYCMIOYO mopes a bit and acts like "I've a great climax coming! You'll love it! I'm just not totally sure how to get there in an exciting fashion ..."
Love And Peace Or Else - 10/10
This is one of my favourites from the album. It has a sinister intro, a powerful guitar line, assertive political lyrics, and a great solo. Live, I don't think it quite captures Edge's 'chainsaw' guitar but the solo explodes and Bono's drumming is exceptional in a hilarious way.
City Of Blinding Lights - 11/10
Simply put, this is the best song since 1988's Heartland. The song combines the epic expanses of Where The Streets Have No Name with the anthemic chorus power of Pride in one song that still sounds amazingly fresh. And if you think my claim about its quality is just a tad extreme, you'll see my logic once you look at my top ten U2 songs:
1. Where The Streets Have No Name, 1987
2. Bad, 1984
3. The Unforgettable Fire, 1984
4. One Tree Hill, 1987
5. City Of Blinding Lights, 2004
6. Heartland, 1988
7. New Year's Day, 1983
8. Acrobat, 1991
9. Gone, 1997
10. Wild Irish Rose, 1990
I think that list makes it clear why my statements about COBL being the best song since 1988 are logical.
All Because Of You - 8/10
U2's tribute to The Who, and sadly another song that just hasn't tended to work as well live, though some performances have topped the album nicely. The solo's fun, the song itself is rock with the roll, and unlike many, I love the lyrics. I find them amusing, and "I like the sound of my own voice, I never gave anyone else a choice" is way too true. Whether it's way too true about Bono or me is up to you.
A Man And A Woman - 8.5/10
I don't understand why this track receives so much hate and is regarded as HTDAAB's Wild Honey. Firstly, it's not bad. Secondly, it's got a lyrical message that's the polar opposite of the typical rock and roll stereotypes. And thirdly, it's just a nice song to tap your foot and relax to. Adam's bass is nice.
Crumbs From Your Table - 10.5/10
This song is my second favourite on the album, and not just because it's an excellent example of Edge's traditional ringing guitar style. The lyrics are come of the most attacking political commentary that Bono has sung in ages, but it seems to go right past some people. There are fans who complain that HTDAAB's songs are too "obvious" and there isn't enough "political aggression" - well, I consider Crumbs to have some political lyrics that very obviously dismantle certain political stances, and yet it flies right past some. I think there's a group that just wants to hate modern U2, but ...
One Step Closer - 10/10
Another one of my absolute favourites. This is such a subtle, beautiful song, and you need to sit back, let it wash over you, and allow its beauty to immerse you. It's a song to be tasted and savoured like a fine wine. It's Running To Stand Still or The First Time for the 2000s in its tender beauty. Definitely one of HTDAAB's most relaxing and pleasant tracks, and the most reminiscient of the gorgeous atmospheres of The Unforgettable Fire album for me.
Original Of The Species - 9/10
One thing kills this song: production. This could be one of U2's most beautiful and touching songs, but the instruments are so indistinct that its beauty is almost lost unless you listen closely. Thank goodness U2 have managed to salvage this one live, as it really is one of the best songs of the current era.
Yahweh - 10/10
I love this song as an album closer, as it's pretty unique in the U2 canon. There's not one other example of an uptempo, positive song closing a U2 album. The song feels so euphoric but without leaving the bounds of reality; indeed, it manages to retain this joy while acknowledging reality. I love the fact that U2 are playing a totally different version live that's just as good - I think the more stripped down version reveals the song's fragile tenderness in a gorgeous way.
Bonus track: Fast Cars - 10/10
This is a bit of a new direction for U2, and a fun one. I can see why this is a bonus track, as the only slot for it on the album is between ABOY and AMAAW and even then, it's not quite cohesive, but it's quality live and I hope it sticks around as a more modern, more sophisticated Party Girl.
1. City Of Blinding Lights
2. Crumbs From Your Table
3. One Step Closer
4. Love And Peace Or Else
6. Fast Cars
7. Miracle Drug
8. Original Of The Species
9. A Man And A Woman
10. All Because Of You
11. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
All in all, I consider HTDAAB to be a very solid album containing a range of songs that may not tread much new ground for U2 but define their traditional style and create some classic tunes along with some others that make for enjoyable and sometimes thought-provoking listening. One of my favourite albums in the U2 canon.
And wow, suddenly it is late in the evening. This would be roughly the time HTDAAB leaked a year ago. Hard to believe it's been a year, and quite a year at that. What an amazing U2 tour we've had to support this album! I cannot wait for it to come down here.