The Unforgettable Fire is the fourth studio album by Irish rock band U2. It was released in October 1984. The band wanted a different musical direction following the harder-hitting rock of their 1983 album War. They employed Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois to produce and assist them experiment with a more ambient and abstract sound. The resulting change in direction was at the time the band's most dramatic.
Recording began in May 1984 at Slane Castle, where the band lived, wrote, and recorded to find new inspiration. The album was completed in August 1984 at Windmill Lane Studios. It features atmospheric sounds and lyrics that lead vocalist Bono describes as "sketches". Two songs feature lyrical tributes to Martin Luther King Jr. The Unforgettable Fire received generally favorable reviews from critics and produced the band's biggest hit at the time, "Pride (In the Name of Love)", as well as the live favorite "Bad", a song about heroin addiction. A 25th Anniversary edition of the album was released in October 2009.
The title is a reference to "The Unforgettable Fire"—an art exhibit about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The band saw the exhibit in November 1983 in Japan while on the War Tour.
"We knew the world was ready to receive the heirs to The Who. All we had to do was to keep doing what we were doing and we would become the biggest band since Led Zeppelin, without a doubt. But something just didn't feel right. We felt we had more dimension than just the next big anything, we had something unique to offer. The innovation was what would suffer if we went down the standard rock route. We were looking for another feeling." —Bono, on The Unforgettable Fire's new direction.
All lyrics written by Bono, all music composed by U2.
No. Title Length
1. "A Sort of Homecoming" 5:28
2. "Pride (In the Name of Love)" 3:48
3. "Wire" 4:19
4. "The Unforgettable Fire" 4:55
5. "Promenade" 2:35
6. "4th of July" 2:12
7. "Bad" 6:09
8. "Indian Summer Sky" 4:17
9. "Elvis Presley and America" 6:23
10. "MLK" 2:31
Total length: 42:38
In 1995, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab re-mastered the album and released it as a special gold CD. This edition has slightly different running times, most notably an extended 2:39 version of the instrumental "4th of July".
In 1985, the band also released the supplementary Wide Awake in America EP, which offers live performances of "Bad" and "A Sort of Homecoming" along with two B-sides (previously unavailable in North America).