Wednesday, June 15, 2022

"When Love Comes to Town" by U2 with B.B. King

Song#:  3852
Date:  04/01/1989
Debut:  89
Peak:  68
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Blues-Rock

Pop Bits:  U2's double-album Rattle and Hum was a mix of live and studio recordings. For the new studio songs, the band explored American roots music and the tunes touched on genes such as R&B, folk, and gospel. Up to this point, the LP boasted a pair of Pop Top 20 hits including the #3 "Desire." The band also explored another unique American sound, the blues. They came up with the tune "When Love Comes to Town" and to give the song a more authentic feel they got together with blues legend B.B. King at Sun Studio in Memphis to record it. The track would serve as the LP's third single and it would do well at Rock reaching #2 while also making it to #10 Modern Rock. Over on the Pop chart, the song just didn't quite fit the format and it would stall early in the bottom half of the chart. It didn't do much to spark sales of the album, which had reached the triple-platinum mark earlier in January '89.

ReduxReview:  Of course a little B.B. added to anything makes it better and U2 were lucky to secure the legend for the track. The band did a fairly good job capturing the American blues sound and giving it a rock edge, but Bono sounded a bit awkward. He can often give some soulful performances, but the blues was a little too much of a stretch. The production was also kind of clunky. Yet King was there to save the day and is the one who really made the song work. The tune ended up being a good fit for rock radio, but it wasn't going to happen at Pop. The label probably should have left this as an airplay track for the Rock chart and picked another song for single release.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  B.B. King began performing in the late 40s at blues venues along the famous Beale Street in Memphis. He first began recording songs in 1949 and got his first hit with the 1952 #1 "3 O'Clock Blues." Thirteen more R&B Top 10's would follow throughout the 50s. Hits would be more sporadic over the next couple of decades, but King would still manage six more R&B Top 10s in that time including what would be his biggest hit on the Pop chart, the #15 (#3 R&B) Grammy-winning "The Thrill Is Gone." King recorded less in the 80s, but remained a top concert draw. He had been absent from the Pop chart since 1974, but was able to score this one last hurrah with U2. In 2002, King's career would get a significant boost when he would record an album with Eric Clapton. Riding with the King would become a #3 double-platinum hit that would win the Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album. In 2008, King would record what would become his final studio album. One Kind Favor would be produced by T-Bone Burnett and would be critically lauded (#1 Blues/#37 Pop). It would earn King the Grammy for Best Traditional Blues album, his final award. In all, King would amass 30 Grammy nominations resulting in 15 wins. The legend would pass away in 2015. 


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