The defining moment of 1985's Live Aid music festival was U2's pulsing, magical performance of "Bad," where Bono climbed down into the audience and danced with a young woman while millions watched, for almost 20 minutes. T... more »he album version of the song wasn't anywhere near that amazing, so the centerpiece of the four-song Wide Awake EP, released in a hurry after Live Aid, is another gorgeously drawn-out live take on "Bad." It's augmented by two rather nice outtakes from the Unforgettable Fire sessions (which had previously appeared as British B-sides), both more showcases for the band's collaborative electricity than good songs per se, and another solid live recording. --Douglas Wolk« less
The defining moment of 1985's Live Aid music festival was U2's pulsing, magical performance of "Bad," where Bono climbed down into the audience and danced with a young woman while millions watched, for almost 20 minutes. The album version of the song wasn't anywhere near that amazing, so the centerpiece of the four-song Wide Awake EP, released in a hurry after Live Aid, is another gorgeously drawn-out live take on "Bad." It's augmented by two rather nice outtakes from the Unforgettable Fire sessions (which had previously appeared as British B-sides), both more showcases for the band's collaborative electricity than good songs per se, and another solid live recording. --Douglas Wolk
Jay H. (jayhii) from HOUSTON, TX Reviewed on 11/6/2010...
As a normal practice, I don't buy Live music unless I happened to be at the recorded concert (or recorded set). After hearing one of the b-sides over the air on a locally produced Houston radio show, I sought out this EP. Not only do the two out-takes stand on their own well enough, I was very pleased with the live cuts. You will not find your usual warm-up noise or one-sided conversations found in many other live tracks (the reason I avoid them in the first place). What little there is to be found here does not get in the way of the overall "feel" of this disc that was probably put together to satisfy the Live Aid crowd until a full release of the concert could be made available. You will find that the tracks are laid out in an easy going manner that flows extremely well. I recommend it to both the rabid and the casual U2 fan, though you can't have my copy; I'm keeping it!
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Sonoko F. from MONTCLAIR, NJ Reviewed on 4/15/2007...
the wistful, delicate 'Love Comes Tumbling' alone makes this EP worth having.
Four Great Songs... And That's All
Andrew McCaffrey | Satellite of Love, Maryland | 12/26/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"U2 make great albums, but they put on even better concerts. The songs that they write in the studio take on a life of their own when performed live. What WIDE AWAKE IN AMERICA has in its favour is that exactly half of the track listing is made up of live recordings from their UNFORGETTABLE FIRE tour. The disadvantage, of course, is that this only consists of two songs. The two live tracks are excellent. I've heard many different live versions of "Bad" performed and this has to be one of the best. They did a great job at managing to capture such a vital performance and transferring all the energy onto the physical tape. "A Sort Of Homecoming" is a nicely understated song that works well here. The two B-sides are quite good as well, and it's nice to see them in a place where they won't be forgotten about.The four songs that are included on here are quite good. They come highly recommended as a great collection of songs from this era of U2. The only downside is that you may not want to pay full-album price for a CD that is really only four songs long. If you're a big U2 fan, then it may be worth it. If not, then there are better value discs that you can pick up."
What's HERE Is Good, But It Isn't Much...
Jeffrey Blehar | Potomac, MD | 03/03/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Ah, there's something about record companies...Wide Awake In America, like its low-cost twin Under A Blood Red Sky, was originally released as a budget-priced EP for the American market in the wake of U2's epochal performance at Live Aid, and it features only four songs - two live songs taken from the Unforgettable Fire tour and two studio outtakes from the sessions for the album. And what's actually here is quite good. The live selections are arguably the two best songs from The Unforgettable Fire, "Bad" and "A Sort Of Homecoming," and while I initially found the performances disappointing, that was an illusion perpetrated by the fact that they're DIFFERENT from their original versions, but actually quite equal in quality as well. "A Sort Of Homecoming" is the most radically altered, with a slower, almost incantatory opening, and a shortened length. At first I missed the windswept passion of the studio cut, but this performance has an ambience all its own, and one which is just as valid. "Bad," on the other hand, simply BLOWS the original performance away. It's longer, more hypnotic, and features a wash of crystalline synthesizers. Truly amazing.The studio tracks are darn good too: "The Three Sunrises" is arguably better than half of the tracks which made it ONTO The Unforgettable Fire ("Promenade," "Indian Summer Sky," "4th Of July," "Elvis Presley And America"), but I can see why it was excluded, as its sound wasn't in keeping with that LP's atmosphere. "Love Comes Tumbling" is less distinguished, just a groove really, but certainly no travesty. So all's good, except for the fact that there are only 4 songs and 20 or so minutes on this CD. And it sells for full price now, where it originally was budget-line. Also, the two studio songs are available on the B-sides CD of the new Best-Of. So it's good, but for the price of $10 to $16, it's simply not worth it. Get it to complete your collection once you've decided you're a fan, and if it's live U2 you crave, get the stunning Under A Blood Red Sky instead."
No spoken words, just a scream
Evil Lincoln | Dayton, Ohio | 11/17/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Wide Awake in America is an EP released after U2's career-defining appearance at 1985's Live Aid. It consists of live performances of "Bad" (NOT the version from Live Aid) and "A Sort of Homecoming," both from 1984's The Unforgettable Fire, as well as two outtakes from that album, "Love Comes Tumbling" and "The Three Sunrises."
"Bad" was recorded in November of 1984 in Birmingham, England (not in the U.S. as the EP's title suggests), well before Live Aid. This version of the song is absolutely amazing- it's infused with all the passion of the studio version as well as the energy from the audience. "A Sort of Homecoming" was recorded at London's Wembley Arena several days later as a soundcheck- the audience noise was edited in later. While knowing that somewhat dampens my enjoyment of the track, I still must say that it's performed with great energy and enthusiasm that were less present on the studio version.
The two studio tracks are quite good, and I agree with the other reviewers that say that they belong on The Unforgettable Fire in place of some of the questionable material from that album ("Elvis Presley & America" in particular). "Love Comes Tumbling" is a slower, brooding piece not unlike "Bad" or the title track from The Unforgettable Fire. "The Three Sunrises" is more joyous and uptempo, and has a sing-along feel to it. These are two of the best U2 B-sides.
Wide Awake in America is a fantastic EP and something that I'd recommend to anyone interested in U2. However, there's the matter of this being an EP that's sold at an LP's price. Myself, I downloaded the whole album from iTunes for $4. That's probably the best way to go with this."
A snapshot of a prolific career
Richard R. Johnson | Houston, TX United States | 02/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Before the blinking TVs and ironic bombast of the ZooTV tour, before the soaring golden arch and giant olive of PopMart, U2's theatrics were moments of pure emotion. Wide Awake in America captures live a classic take of Bad plus what I believe is the definitive version of A Sort of Homecoming, with Bono's voice at its emotional peak. The studio tracks were released as b-sides, but could have easily been included on the Unforgettable Fire album."
N. P. Stathoulopoulos | Brooklyn, NY | 03/04/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm still a bit mystified that this is in print in the same format. It's really just an EP, and has about as much music as a maxi-single. They should really drop the price or add some more tracks.
Here we have an officially released live version of Bad. Note that this is not the Live Aid version. It's still very good, much more pumped up than the studio version (excellent on its own, though). The sequencer and synth effect (practically inaudible on the studio version) is loud and clear, and the band proved they could take Eno's tinkering out on stage and make it work.
A Sort of Homecoming is a bit quieter than the rumbling original, and in excellent quality.
The other two tracks are outtakes from The Unforgettable Fire, or rather, they're B-sides from the British singles, thrown on here to make an enjoyable EP. Love Comes Tumbling is a quiet, somber track, but very well done. Sounds like a drum machine in use, the echo effects are kept to a minimum, and Bono's voice is strong. Three Sunrises is the opposite--one of the most boisterous, sing-out-loud U2 songs ever. Excellent.
Recommended, for sure. Tracks every fan should seek out, though it's a bit pricey for 20 minutes of music."