A while back, I briefly had a series of posts looking at singers/bands who, in my opinion, had at one time had it, only to lose it.   I dropped the series after maybe two or three editions as it was causing more grief and hassle than it was worth, with folk coming in via the comments section and getting tetchy and/or angry.  Differences of opinion are all fine and well across the TVV community, but I’m never comfortable when hostilities break out.

In saying all that, I run the risk of flak with today’s offering.  It’s not the first time the song has been featured on this or the old blog, but it is the first time since I decided to splash out on the 30th Anniversary vinyl edition of Achtung Baby, which hit the shops in November 2021.

I really liked early U2, getting along to see them play live in front of packed and enthusiastic audiences in medium-sized venues in Glasgow – one night at the long-closed Tiffany’s on Sauchiehall Street will live long in the memory just for the fact it remains one of the hottest and sweatiest shows I’ve ever attended.  I didn’t like late 80s-era U2, with The Joshua Tree being everything I detested about middle-aged rock music, seemingly being made by a band that had grown old before its time.

I first heard The Fly on the radio.  It would have been a week or so before it was released as a single in October 1991, when it was played one evening on Radio 1.  I was quite stunned by it as it was, to coin the cliché, a million miles away from what I had been expecting. Bono has since said that the song was the sound of four men chopping down The Joshua Tree, such was the extent of the departure from the album which had won them millions of fans the world over.  I bought the single on CD and a few weeks later, I went out and bought the album, again on CD.  My thoughts were, and they remain the same today, that the album wasn’t perfect as it still had a couple of dodgy MOR moments, but for the most part it was a fine return to form.

The fact I bought the vinyl some 30 years later is a sad indictment of the reality that, despite what I think are my best efforts, I am very susceptible to the sales pitches of the music industry.

No matter that I accepted I didn’t play Achtung Baby all that much, and when I did I’d skip through some of the tracks, I really ‘needed’ to take home the vinyl records and hear The Fly in all its remastered glory via the needle hitting the groove.

I’m glad I did as it sounded great.  Made me feel as if I was again in my late 20s…..those were the days.

mp3: U2 – The Fly

Feel free to disagree.  I won’t mind.



  1. “…seemingly being made by a band that had grown old before its time.” This is a great line.

    I never properly gave into U2s charms. I thought I liked New Years Day but realised I just got used to it rather than liked it due to what seemed like constant radio play, but probably wasn’t.

    Under a Blood Red Sky was next… I think it was the energy from the live video but my interest faded quickly.

    Next… The Unforgettable Fire. Publicly, I hated this LP – everyone had it and it was definitely over-played by radio, neighbours etc. Secretly though I adored MLK. Still do. It has ended many a complication tape in its time. I can’t claim MLK ‘cool’ – it was a while later that I found out what MLK stood for.

    Since then nothing has captivated me not even The Fly.

    U2 is a band that, so far, hasn’t spoken to me. I do admire it’s many attempts at reinvention though. What this post has done is nudge me to listen to MLK again. It’s been a while.

    P.S. I suspect Tiffany’s had sh*t ventilation as the gigs I attended were sweat-fests.

  2. I like the fly. I like The Unforgettable Fire. I was out the other night with two guys who have been to see U2 on every tour since 1980. I think I’d have packed in in around 1995.

  3. I loved U2’s first four albums – and none of my mates seemed to. All my mates kept telling me how good The Joshua Tree was, but for me it was just Ok – I tolerated it. Maybe I don’t like being told what’s good and like to make my own mind up.

    After those first four albums I think I’ve only ever really tolerated U2 – with the exception of Rattle And Hum, which I just cannot listen to. The Fly at least brought them back up from that level for me and Achtung Baby is probably the closest I’ve ever got to loving them again.

  4. Does it bother anyone else that all Adam Clayton’s bass lines have 3 notes and can be played on ONE STRING?

  5. I have a complicated relationship with U2’s music as I never particularly fell for them but they are my oldest friend’s favourite band. It was also supposed to be the first gig we ever went to together, in 1985 at Cardiff Arms Park. I had the ticket and coach booked and all set to go, then parental intervention scuppered my plans. Depending on your perspective, either a missed opportunity or a lucky escape…!

    None of U2’s albums have ever really grabbed me, although I liked The Fly and their efforts to reinvent themselves. To be honest, I more interested in the Achtung Baby remixes than the album itself: Massive Attack, Stereo MC’s, Apollo 440, Paul Oakenfold, Youth, Terry Farley & Pete Heller.

    My favourite U2 album therefore is probably a bootleg of the fanclub Melon remixes compilation. Still heavy with Bono’s vocals, but very little of the original music remaining…

    Gavin Friday’s cover version of The Fly is definitely worth a listen.

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