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Wide Awake in America - Click to view! It’s often easy to deride EP releases. Most of us can probably remember excitedly purchasing one of these mini-albums only to discover that our hard-earned money could have been better spent. The remixes may be boring, the live songs can lack electricity , or the b-sides may be “previously unreleased” for a very good reason (namely, they sucked). Whatever the reason, there is a lot of room for disappointment on such a short CD. U2, however, is not a band to waste musical opportunity; they don’t just write entertaining music, they create an experience. And though this EP is only four songs long, it captures the essence of U2’s reflective and anthemic spirit.

Wide Awake in America was released during The Unforgettable Fire era as a North American specialty item, but it is much more than a novelty selection of live recordings and b-sides. “Bad” is a musical marathon that haunts the soul with its hypnotic rhythms and baring lyrics: the audience’s eerie silence during the song adds to the awe. Another rising Fire anthem, “A Sort of Homecoming” is a laidback but well orchestrated live performance that serves as a gentler landing from the heights of “Bad”. But the fun does not stop once you hit the b-sides. “Three Sunrises” is one of the best songs you've probably never heard. From somewhere in this indescribable cacophony of vocals and guitar work the morning sun bursts into your world and leaves you breathless when its (nearly) four minutes are up. “Love Comes Tumbling”, ironically, is a darker song with a softly pedaled bass line that weaves its way into the listener's heart and causes one to look up in the hope that, somewhere, love is pouring down and brightening the sky.

All together, these songs flow through less than twenty minutes of time; those minutes are not ordinary time, however, but are moments when you feel that you have entered an unearthly dimension where truth simultaneously bares and clothes all who come into its presence. And that isn’t a bad job for a four song EP.
- Jason Ewert
July 2002
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