Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.
English PCM Stereo
Runtime: 5 min.
Release Date: 10/29/2002
• Audio Track: William Orbit Mix of “Electrical Storm”
• Interview with Larry Mullen Jr.
• Photo Gallery
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.
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U2: Electrical Storm DVD Single (2002)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 16, 2002)
As I write this toward the end of 2002, the DVD single doesn’t seem to have made many inroads with the general public. I think the music companies need to spice them up more significantly. Too many – like Madonna’s Music and What It Feels Like For a Girl – offer too little content for too much money; $10 or so appears somewhat steep for so little material. Toss in additional mixes and make DVDs into video maxi-singles and I think the format can prosper.
For U2’s first DVD single, they don’t expand the genre by much, but Electrical Storm offers a somewhat better than average package. The song itself comes from their compilation U2: The Best of 1990-2000 & B-Sides. Of course, since this is a new song that didn’t appear until 2002, its presence wrecks the title, but what’re ya gonna do?
Anyway, “Storm” the song presents fairly typical U2 circa the turn of the millennium. It feels like something that could fit in alongside their hit 2000 album All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Personally, I’d have preferred something a little more unusual for this new track, but the tune itself seems pretty solid. Initially it left me somewhat cold, but the more I hear it, the more I like it. I doubt it’ll ever qualify as a U2 classic, but “Storm” presents an above-average number all the same.
As for the video, it actually does offer something unusual. Singer Bono usually stars in these efforts, but in this case, they pull drummer Larry Mullen Jr. from behind the kit. The video takes place mostly on a beach, and we watch Larry pull various items from the sea along with a babe who looks vaguely like a more stacked version of Garbage’s Shirley Manson. They make out to some degree and then apparently fight before she makes a transformation at the end. In addition, we see some shots of Bono on a train as well as some lip-synched performance images of the band.
Why’d Larry take the lead in this clip? Probably because he’s the best-looking member of the band. Granted, I know a lot of women who think Bono outdoes Larry in the sex appeal department, but that occurs more because of the singer’s presence and aura. If you simply view them for basic attractiveness, I think Larry’s definitely more classically handsome.
Actually, that doesn’t answer why Larry stars instead of Bono, but it does explain why he takes the lead instead of guitarist the Edge or bassist Adam Clayton. I’d guess that Bono passed on his normal top billing just to make the video something different; another clip that accentuated the singer would seem pretty predictable. Or maybe Larry’s the only one who showed up for the shoot.
Unfortunately, Electrical Storm lacks much inspiration otherwise. Really, it comes across an awful lot like Chris Isaak’s popular video for “Wicked Game”. The gritty black and white photography combined with the sultry make-out sessions create a definite sense of déjà vu. While the U2 video’s woman does seem pretty sexy, she’s no match for Isaak’s Helena Christensen, so the clip even loses in that regard.
Ultimately, Electrical Storm presents a competent music video, but it doesn’t do much of anything special. Granted, as a longtime U2 fan, it seems cool to see Larry take the lead, but otherwise, the clip feels like a professional and watchable one but not much more than that.
The DVD Grades: Picture B / Audio B- / Bonus C-
Electrical Storm appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Due to the original photography of Storm, I found it exceedingly hard to grade the picture, but I felt the DVD seemed to replicate the material well enough to merit a “B”.
Shot in black and white, the video featured tremendous amounts of intentional graininess. Those elements pervaded much of the piece. Of course, I couldn’t fault the presentation for those “flaws” because they were supposed to appear, but I felt I needed to mention them. Otherwise, the video seemed free of defects.
Sharpness looked good, as most of the video appeared fairly accurate and well defined. A little softness showed up at times; some of this looked intentional, but some of it made less sense. I noticed light edge enhancement on occasion, and that factor seemed to account for a few of the slightly fuzzy elements. Black levels looked nicely deep and rich, and shadow detail came across as distinct and clear. Contrast appeared quite solid, with good delineation of those elements. Ultimately, the DVD of Electrical Storm seemed to accurately reproduce the source video.
While generally good, I thought the PCM stereo soundtrack of Electrical Storm appeared a bit less satisfying. The stereo imaging sounded fine, as the track showed nice spread across the speakers and placed the instruments in accurate and appropriate locations. Bass response came across as fairly decent, but the highs seemed a little flat at times. This made the production appear somewhat muted and punchless at times. In the end, the audio remained good enough to merit a “B-“, but it probably should have been stronger.
While not exactly packed with extras, Electrical Storm tosses in a few components. We find an audio version of “Electrical Storm”. This four-minute and 37-second piece offers the remix done by frequent Madonna collaborator William Orbit. Frankly, I don’t think this version differs tremendously from the original, and folks who own Best of 1990-2000 will already have it, since it appears there along with the “standard” edition. However, since not everyone who buys this DVD will get djsak, I appreciate the inclusion of the remix here.
Next we find an Interview with Larry Mullen Jr. It lasts a mere 113 seconds, and much of that time simply displays shots from the video. When Larry does speak, he offers some reactions to coming out from behind the kit, notes about his impulsive decision to do the video, and states that prefers to stay at his drums. That’s about it. Larry provides little insight into the music or the shoot, though he seems charming enough to make this brief piece watchable.
Finally, we get a photo gallery with nine stills. Taken by Electrical Storm director Anton Corbijn, these mainly from shoots related to 1997’s Pop and 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind. We don’t discover anything terribly notable here, but it seems like a decent little collection.
Anyone who expects a classic video or song from U2’s Electrical Storm will probably feel disappointed with the results. Though both the tune and the clip seem professional and more than competent, I think they fall short of greatness. The song’s better than the video, which appears too derivative to make much of an impact. The DVD displays the intentionally grainy video reasonably well, and the music sounds decent though a little flat. The package also includes a smattering of passable supplements.
As I alluded at the start of this review, the package of extras included here does outdo many other DVD singles. However, I think studios really need to up the ante to make the format more appealing. Had Electrical Storm included some non-album tracks, more substantial behind the scenes material, additional remixes, or other useful bits, it’d seem more compelling. Really, I think that studios should turn DVD singles into expanded maxi-singles. Pack them with audio material and make the video the bonus. With a list price of almost $13, there’s just not enough material on Electrical Storm to entice many fans who aren’t heavily into U2. As a die-hard myself, I’m happy to own it, but unless you want to have a copy of “Electrical Storm” without buying U2: The Best of 1990-2000 & B-Sides, I can’t recommend it to more casual fans.
Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars
| Number of Votes: 7