Picks and Pans Review: All That You Can't Leave Behind
Album of the week
When not trying to persuade dictators to free political prisoners or the world's leading industrial powers to forgive Third "World debt, Bono and the lads like to pick up their guitars and play. And this album is enough to make fans wish U2 would hurry up and save the world already. Music this unique and passionately felt is something to be treasured. As usual, this is big-statement, anthemic gospel rock. But despite a clumsy title (wouldn't the opening track "Beautiful Day" have rolled more easily off the tongue?), liner-note pleas to do good ("Remember Aung San Suu Kyi, under virtual house arrest in Burma since 1989") and some lyrics that might have been lifted from Kahlil Gibran ("And if your way should falter/Along the stony pass/It's just a moment/This time will pass"), All That never sounds strident or self-righteous. Bono's voice is as emotion-packed as ever; guitarist the Edge avoids falling into his habitual, Bo Diddley-on-Prozac riffs, and a nice balance is struck between coproducer Daniel Lanois's dark stirrings and counterpart Brian Eno's spacey tweedling. Every track is a tour de force, but "Elevation," "Wild Honey," "Peace on Earth" and "Grace" are especially gorgeous.
Bottom Line: Bono sings; you, too, will follow