The CCM U2 Tribute album, In the Name of Love, showed up in the mail the other day. Well, half the album anyway. It’s a press copy of the album, but it only has 7 of 12 tracks (potentially 13; the Grits version of “With or Without You” isn’t listed in the liner notes).
It’s an intriguing project, basically an easy way to raise money for the AIDS crisis in Africa, but also a way to introduce the CCM scene to the music of U2. Many CCM fans are well aware of U2, but there’s a lot of hardcore CCMers that rarely listen to anything mainstream (I was one of them once), and for those folks this album will be a rare treat. Of course if you’ve ever heard U2 before, these songs won’t sound nearly as good.
I predict this album will be popular within the CCM world simply because of the nature of the Christian bubble. If you have never heard Bono belt out “Where the Streets Have No Name,” you’ll be perfectly happy with Chris Tomlin’s eerily similar version. Likewise Sanctus Real does a decent “Beautiful Day” knock-off, minus Bono’s soaring vocals and a little more grit in the Edge’s guitar riffs.
Jars of Clay and Sixpence None the Richer stray the most from the originals, probably because these artists are most familiar with U2 and know the danger of trying to sound like the best band in the world. Jars does a bluesy version of “All I Want Is You,” which seems to deflate the song of momentum. Sixpence tackles the forboding “Love is Blindness,” but it misses the melancholy of the Achtung Baby original. Both bands attempted an experimental angle, but it didn’t fly.
The real standout track (of the seven I can preview) is Audio Adrenaline’s version of “Gloria.” I know, I know, saying Audio A can do justice to a U2 song is tantamount to sacrilige. But they manage to modernize the thoroughly 80s song and without gutting its soul. There’s plenty of 80s rock left, and the tune just jams. Not too shabby. Of course it helps that the original was recorded 20 years ago.
I’m eager to hear the remaining tracks, including Toby Mac’s butchering of “Mysterious Ways” and what Delirious can possibly do with “Pride (In the Name of Love)” that won’t sound exactly like the original.