Thursday, April 30, 2009

About U2 - The Supergroup Of Ireland

Thanks, Wikipedia.

U2 is a rock band from Dublin, Ireland. The band consists of Paul Hewson alias Bono (vocals and guitar), David Evans alias The Edge (guitar, keyboards and vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar) and Larry Mullen Jr (drums and percussion).

The band was formed in 1976 when the members were teenagers with limited musical proficiency.

By the mid-1980s, the band had become a top international act, noted for its anthemic sounds, Bono's impassioned vocals, and David's textural guitar playing.

Its success as a live act was greater than its success at selling records until its 1987 album The Joshua Tree elevated the band's stature "from heroes to superstars," according to Rolling Stone magazine.

U2 responded to the dance and alternative rock revolutions by reinventing itself with the 1991 album Achtung Baby.

Since 2000, U2 pursued a more conventional rock sound that retains the influence of its previous musical explorations.

U2 has sold more than 145 million albums worldwide and has won 22 Grammy Awards, more than any other band.

In 2005, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Rolling Stone magazine listed U2 at No. 22 in its list of the 100 greatest artistes of all time.

U2 has actively campaigned for human rights and social justice causes, including Amnesty International and Bono's Data (Debt, AIDS, Trade In Africa) campaign.

The band was formed in Dublin on September 25, 1976.

Larry, then 14, posted a notice on his secondary school notice board (Mount Temple Comprehensive School) seeking musicians for a new band.

Bono, David and Adam promptly signed up in Larry’s house.

They were also joined by David’s brother Dick, a guitarist and two of Larry’s and Bono’s fellow Irishmen Ivan McCormick and Peter Martin.

The band was named Feedback and a year later, The Hype. Its members, now down to four, settled for U2 in 1978.

On Saint Patrick's Day in 1978, U2 won a talent show in Limerick, Ireland. The prize consisted of £500 and funding to record a demo.

The band recorded its first demo tape at Keystone Studios, in Harcourt Street, Dublin, in April 1978.

U2's first release, an Ireland-only EP titled Three, was released in September 1979 and was the band's first Irish chart success.

In December 1979, U2 performed in London. In February 1980, its second single Another Day was released.

In May 1980, 11 O'Clock Tick Tock became the band's first internationally released single.

The band's debut album, Boy, followed in October.

The album included the band's first United Kingdom hit single, I Will Follow.

Boy's release was followed by U2's first tour of continental Europe and the United States.

The band's second album, October, was released in 1981 and contained overtly spiritual themes.

U2 released War in 1983. A record where the band "turned pacifism itself into a crusade," War's sincerity and "rugged" guitar was intentionally at odds with the "cooler" synth-pop of the time.

The album included Sunday Bloody Sunday, where Bono lyrically tried to contrast the events of Bloody Sunday (British police brutality in Northern Ireland against pro-independence supporters) with Easter Sunday.

War was U2's first album to feature the photography of Anton Corbijn, who remains U2's principal photographer and has had a major influence on their vision and public image.

U2's first commercial success, War debuted at number one in the UK, and its first single, New Year's Day, was the band's first hit outside Ireland or the UK.

On the subsequent War Tour, the band performed to sold-out concerts in mainland Europe and the US. The image of Bono waving a white flag during performances of Sunday Bloody Sunday became a familiar sight.

U2 recorded the Under A Blood Red Sky live album on this tour, as well as the Live At Red Rocks concert film, both of which received extensive play on the radio and MTV.

The Unforgettable Fire was released in 1984. Larry's drumming became looser, funkier and more subtle and Adam's bass became more subliminal. Bono wrote two major hits Bad and Pride.

U2 participated in the Live Aid concert for Ethiopian famine relief at Wembley Stadium in July 1985.

In 1985, Rolling Stone magazine called U2 the Band of the 80s.

Motivated by friendships with Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Keith Richards, the band looked back to the roots of rock music, and Bono focused on his skills as a songwriter.

The band explored American blues, country, and gospel music.

For its fifth album, the band sought a harder-hitting sound within the strict discipline of conventional song structures.

In 1986, while working on the fifth album, U2 joined Amnesty International's A Conspiracy Of Hope Tour.

The Joshua Tree was released in March 1987. The album juxtaposes antipathy towards America against the band's deep fascination with the country, its open spaces, freedom, and what it stands for.

It became the fastest-selling album in British chart history, and was number one for nine weeks in the United States.

It won U2 its first two Grammy Awards.

The album's first two singles, the rock and roll bolero With Or Without You and the rhythmic gospel I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, quickly went to number one in the US.

U2 became the fourth rock band to be featured on the cover of Time magazine.

U2’s seventh studio album Achtung Baby was released in 1991. The album incorporated dance, industrial and alternative rock influences.

The band’s Zoo TV Tour of 1992–1993 was a multimedia event, and showcased an extravagant but intentionally bewildering array of hundreds of video screens, upside-down flying Trabant cars, mock transmission towers, satellite TV links, subliminal messages, and Bono's over-the-top stage characters such as The Fly, Mirror-Ball Man, and Mister MacPhisto.

The extravagant shows were intentionally in contrast to the austere staging of previous U2 tours, and mocked the excesses of rock and roll by appearing to embrace these very excesses.

The shows were, in part, U2's way to represent the pervasive nature of cable television and its blurring of news, entertainment, and home shopping.

Prank phone calls were made to President George Bush and the United Nations.

The band expanded Zooropa into a full-length LP album.

Johnny Cash sang on The Wanderer.

In 1995, U2 released an experimental album called Original Soundtracks 1. Brian Eno, producer of three previous U2 albums, wrote songs and performed in it.

Luciano Pavarotti sang in the single Miss Sarajevo.

The 1997 album Pop saw heavier, funkier dance rhythms. The band subsequently toured Sarajevo in war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina, and appeared on The Simpsons.

The band released All That You Can't Leave Behind in October 2000 and reunited the band with producer Eno.

The album debuted at number one in 22 countries and its worldwide hit single, Beautiful Day earned three Grammy Awards.

The album's other singles, Walk On, Elevation, and Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of also won Grammy Awards.

The band's next studio album, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, was released in November 2004. The first single, Vertigo, was featured on a widely-aired television commercial for the Apple iPod, in conjunction with the release of a special edition U2 iPod and an iTunes U2 box set.

The album debuted at number one in the US where first week sales doubled that of All That You Can't Leave Behind and set a record for the band.

The album and its singles won Grammy Awards in all eight categories in which U2 was nominated.

In 2005, Bruce Springsteen inducted U2 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

After 16 months in the studio, the band completed No Line On The Horizon in December 2008, and it was released in February 2009.

The band cites The Who, The Clash and The Beatles as influences. Van Morrison has been cited by Bono as an influence too.

One Republic and Coldplay have in turn been influenced by U2.

Cover versions of U2 songs have been made by Mary J. Blige, Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker, Pearl Jam, James Blunt, The Smashing Pumpkins, Keane and Hikaru Utada.

U2 has worked with Cash, Green Day, Leonard Cohen, Springsteen, B. B. King, Pavarotti, Dylan, Elvis Costello and REM.

In 2001, the band dedicated Walk On to Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

In late 2003, Bono and David participated in the South Africa HIV/AIDS awareness 46664 series of concerts hosted by Nelson Mandela.

The band was awarded Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience Award for promoting human rights.

Since 2000, Bono's campaigning has included Jubilee 2000 with Sir Bob Geldof and Muhammad Ali to promote the cancellation of third world debt.

In January 2002, Bono co-founded the multinational NGO, Data, with the aim of improving the social, political, and financial state of Africa.

The One Campaign, the US counterpart of Make Poverty History, has been shaped by his efforts and vision.

In late 2005, following Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, David helped introduce Music Rising, an initiative to raise funds for musicians who lost their instruments in the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast.

In 2006, U2 collaborated with punk rock band Green Day to record a cover version of the song The Saints Are Coming by The Skids in aid of Music Rising.

In 1985, Bono recorded the song In A Lifetime with the Irish band Clannad.

David recorded a solo soundtrack album for the film Captive in 1986.

Bono and David wrote the song She's A Mystery To Me for Roy Orbison, which was featured on his 1989 album Mystery Girl.

In 1990, Larry Mullen co-wrote and produced a song for the Irish International soccer team in Italia '90, called Put 'Em Under Pressure, which topped the Irish charts.

David and Bono wrote the song GoldenEye for the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye, which was performed by Tina Turner.

Adam and Larry did a rework of the title track of the movie Mission: Impossible in 1996.

In 1998, Bono collaborated with R. Kelly and Mary J. Blige for gospel song Lean On Me, a reinterpretation of the Bill Withers song.

Most recently, Bono appeared and performed The Beatles songs in the movie Across The Universe (2007). Bono and David are also writing music for Spider-Man: The Musical, expected to open in late 2009.

Lyrics For U2 Song With Or Without You

I've been told by Facebook that the song that best reflects my life is With Or Without You by U2, Ireland's superb rock group.

Here's the song's lyrics.

See the stone set in your eyes
See the thorn twist in your side
I wait for you
Sleight of hand and twist of fate
On a bed of nails she makes me wait
And I wait without you
With or without you
With or without you
Through the storm we reach the shore
You give it all but I want more
And I’m waiting for you
With or without you
With or without you
I can’t live
With or without you
And you give yourself away
And you give yourself away
And you give
And you give
And you give yourself away
My hands are tied
My body bruised, she’s got me with
Nothing to win and
Nothing left to lose
And you give yourself away
And you give yourself away
And you give
And you give
And you give yourself away
With or without you
With or without you
I can’t live
With or without you
With or without you
With or without you
I can’t live
With or without you
With or without you

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ratan Singh @ M. A. Razman - Always My Journalistic Guru

M. A. Razman @ Ratan Singh, 60, a brilliant journalist who once helmed The Malay Mail and who was my journalistic trainer, passed away after a long illness yesterday.

I'll forever be grateful to him as my journalistic guru.

A minute of silence in his memory.

Monday, April 20, 2009

J G Ballard - Inspiring Author

Thanks, Wikipedia.

James Graham Ballard, who died at the age of 79 on April 19, 2009, will be remembered by fans as the author of Empire Of The Sun, a novelised recollection of his life as a POW in Japanese-occupied China during World War 2.

The British novelist and short story writer also excelled in science fiction.

He also wrote Crash which was adapted into a film like Empire Of The Sun.

The adjective "Ballardian", defined as "resembling the conditions described in Ballard's novels, especially dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments", has been included in the Collins English Dictionary.

Ballard was born on November 15, 1930 in Shanghai, China.

His father was a chemist at a Manchester-headquartered textile firm, the Calico Printers Association, and became chairman and managing director of its subsidiary in Shanghai, the China Printing and Finishing Company.

Ballard was born and raised in a Shanghai dominated by Britain.

After the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War, Ballard's family was forced to temporarily evacuate their suburban home and rent a house in downtown Shanghai to avoid the shells fired by Chinese and Japanese forces.

After the Pearl Harbour attack, the Japanese occupied Shanghai.

In early 1943 they began interning Allied civilians, and Ballard was sent to the Lunghua Civilian Assembly Centre with his parents and younger sister.

He spent over two years, the remainder of World War 2, in the internment camp.

His family lived in a two-storey residence for 40 families.

He attended school in the camp, the teachers being inmates from a number of professions.

These experiences formed the basis of Empire Of The Sun.

In 1946, after the end of the war, Ballard went to the UK with his mother and sister.

They lived in Plymouth, and he attended The Leys School in Cambridge.

After a couple of years his mother and sister returned to China, rejoining Ballard's father, and leaving Ballard to live with his grandparents.

In 1949 he went on to study medicine at King's College, Cambridge.

At university, Ballard was writing avant-garde fiction heavily influenced by psychoanalysis and surrealist painters.

At this time, he wanted to become a writer as well as pursue a medical career.

In 1951, when Ballard was in his second year at King's, his short story The Violent Noon" (a Hemingwayesque book) won a crime story competition and was published in the student newspaper.

Encouraged by the publication of his story and realising that clinical medicine would not leave him time to write, Ballard abandoned his medical studies in 1952 and went to the University of London to read English Literature.

However, he was asked to leave at the end of the year.

Ballard then worked as a copywriter for an advertising agency and as an encyclopaedia salesman.

He kept writing short fiction but found it impossible to get published.

In 1953 Ballard joined the RAF and was sent to a flight-training base in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada.

There he discovered science fiction in American magazines.

While in the RAF, he also wrote his first science fiction story, Passport To Eternity.

Ballard left the RAF in 1954 after two years and returned to the UK.

In 1955 he married Helen Matthews and settled in Chiswick. Their first child (of three) was born in 1956, and his first published science fiction story, Prima Belladonna, was printed that year.

The editor of New Worlds, Edward J. Carnell, would remain an important supporter of Ballard's writing and would publish nearly all of his early stories.

From 1957, Ballard worked as assistant editor on the scientific journal Chemistry and Industry.

His interest in art led to his involvement in the emerging Pop Art movement, and in the late fifties he exhibited a number of collages that represented his ideas for a new kind of novel.

Ballard's avant-garde inclinations did not sit comfortably in the science fiction mainstream of that time.

By the late 1960s, he had become an editor of the avant-garde Ambit Magazine, which was more in keeping with his aesthetic ideals.

In 1960 Ballard moved with his family to Shepperton, London.

Finding that commuting to work did not leave him time to write, Ballard decided he had to make a break and become a full-time writer.

He wrote his first major novel, The Wind From Nowhere, over a two-week holiday. It was published in 1962.

Later that year his second novel, The Drowned World, was published.

In 1964 Ballard's wife Mary died of pneumonia, leaving him to raise their three children – James, Fay and Bea – by himself.

In 1965 he wrote The Atrocity Exhibition, and one of the novels in this grotesque series gave rise to the film Crash in 1996.

In 1984 he wrote Empire Of The Sun, based on his years in Shanghai.

It won the 1984 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction.

Empire Of The Sun was filmed by Steven Spielberg in 1987, starring a young Christian Bale as Ballard.

Ballard himself appeared briefly in the film.

Ballard has had a notable influence on popular music, where his work has been used as a basis for lyrical imagery, particularly amongst British punk groups.

Examples include albums such as Metamatic by John Foxx, various songs by Joy Division (most famously The Atrocity Exhibition), the song Down In The Park by Gary Numan and Warm Leatherette by The Normal.

Songwriters Trevor Horn and Bruce Woolley credit Ballard's story, The Sound-Sweep, with inspiring The Buggles' hit, Video Killed The Radio Star.

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke posted extracts from Ballard's anti-consumerist novel Kingdom Come on the band's blog, Dead Air Space, in the months leading up to the release of its 2007 album, In Rainbows.

The opening song title of Madonna's Ray Of Light album, Drowned World/Substitute For Love is said to be inspired by Ballard's apocalyptic 1962 novel The Drowned World.