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U2 - The Unforgettable Fire
Old 1st February 2007
Gear Addict
🎧 10 years
U2 - The Unforgettable Fire


This album has some of the most interesting sound treatmetns, especially compared to other albums released at that time.

I think many people here would love to hear first hand about the engineering, the approach to recording and mixing and especially the otherworldly treatments.

What gear was used to make the album and in specific those amazing treatmetns like on the instrumental song "4th of July"?

Some of the procedures of those treatments, how they were set up uising the mixing console and where things were placed in the chain of events including feeding things back to themselves?

Thanks for your insight and great work!
Old 2nd February 2007
engineer / producer / mixer
Kevin Killen's Avatar
🎧 10 years

I believe most of the credit for that sound rests with Brian Eno and Dan Lanois. They were brought in by the band to radically alter their sound and it was amazing to be part of it. The initial recording took place at Slane Castle, about 40 miles north of Dublin. U2 had been rehearsing there and were enjoying the sound so Effanel Music ( the worlds truly first portable studio) was shipped over from NYC. Randy Ezratty the owner of Effanel, had recorded the tracks for "Under A Blood Red Sky" at Red Rocks in Colorado the year before and was familiar with the band.

He had a Soundworkshop console and a Stevens tape machine, lots of great mics and outboard eq. The main chain of effects were a lexicon stereo delay, a harmonizer, and a long reverb all feeding each other, Once again they were set up to immediately print to tape should a sound prove inspiring. Brian and Dan really provided the band with the sonic tapestry and that coupled with the bands own signature made for a truly unique symphony.

We spent six weeks at Slane tracking , then relocated to Windmill lane to finish the album. Some of the tracks were recut (Pride and something else) and Bono finished writing and singing the vocals.The studio had just installed the SSL e series and I was the most familiar with it. For some reason Total recall was not installed. One day Brian and I were doing a rough mix of "A Sort of Homecoming" and we just went to town with all the gates, compressors and eq. Bono was still writing lyrics for the song so we just printed that mix to a quarter inch machine. I made a cassette of it for Bono and that is what he referenced when writing.

We he came to sing the lead we could not replicate that mix so we finally flew the rough mix to a new piece of multitrack. Then we flew the vocal off the multi to the quater inch and back to the new multi and added Edge's backgrounds. The final mix of that song was five faders..... old school.

In terms of the chain of effects, all were patched back into the console and at any point any effect could be sent to numerous others and combined to tape. Certain chains seemed to work better that others but it really depended on the source instrument.

Hope that answers your question

Old 2nd February 2007 | Show parent
Lives for gear
🎧 15 years

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