Steve Lilywight talks future U2 in 1987

Steve Lilywhite circa late 80s 
I came across this article on @U2 which featured an interview with Steve Lilywhite who, as time has now told us, has been one of U2’s most best and consitent collaborators.

Clearly U2’s The Joshua Tree album has started to go stellar at the time of the interview and U2 were becoming a huge band. I thought it would be interesting to reflect on some of his comments about the future U2 and see where they landed.

His words from 1987 are telling..

"They have still got their best to come. They have now started to write songs and The Joshua Tree is far more song-oriented. They spent four albums trying to write songs and now, on their fifth album, they are just beginning to get it together. By the sixth and seventh albums I think we'll see some classic songs coming from U2."

Did we see some classic U2 songs from those sixth and seventh albums? We sure did! Rattle and Hum produced All I Want Is You, Desire, Angel of Harlem and a wee hit called When Love Comes to Town. And then what happended? If you paid attention as Actung Baby commanded, you’ll have heard the majestic One – a song which some how managed to top the beauty of Joshua Tree’s With or Without you. There was also the monster of a song, The Fly, the haunting Who’s Going to Ride your Wild Horses, and of course the mega hits of Even Better Than the Real Thing and Mysterious Ways.

So we can safely say Steve Lilywhites prediction was bang on!

'If you can build a band up from the first to third albums it is quite a nice little progression. It was always clear in my mind that U2 were going to go all the way. There was no question of that." 

It would appear that Steve thought U2 had gone all the way with Joshua Tree and perhaps that’s a fair enough sentiment – two number ones on the US charts is pretty much going all the way in my book.

Could Steve have predicted how far U2 have actually ended up going? No, I doubt he would have thought U2 would have become the biggest band in the planet taking over the Rolling Stones in terms of sales and concert tickets sold, but he was still there went U2 basically had their third coming with All That You Can’t Leave Behind.  The songs from that album owned the Grammy Awards, and then Steve swam the tide of U2 popularity with How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb* and the slowburning but the more you listen the more you love it, No Line on The Horizon.

"This is very close to being an album of classic songs, but I think that within one or two albums they could have an album which might be one of the biggest-selling records of all time. 

Two Words: Achtung Baby.

"This album will do well, it'll probably double their sales so far, but the next one will be brilliant!"

Well I wouldn't say Rattle And Hum is brilliant but it had some brilliant songs - U2 got a bit of crap for trying a bit to hard to emulate the soul / blues thing that they were in love with - regardless, as I mentioned above Rattle and Hum had the songs, and believe me when I saw U2 in Auckland play Angel of Harlem, the fans went nuts with appreciation.

So based on that rough cut from the Lilywhite interview, he had a fair measure of where U2 would end up!

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