Following the international recognition that came with "War" they sought a change in direction and signed on an initially reluctant Brian Eno to help them find that direction. He and Daniel Lanois deconstructed the band's sound in order to find it's soul and after months of patient, persistent effort (at Ireland's Slane Castle and at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin) band and crew emerged with a mystical, ambiguous, pulsating work of genius. The lead single "Pride (in the name of love)" acted as a bridge between War and the new sound but it was the album's other cuts like "Elvis Presley and America", "A Sort of Homecoming" and "Wired" that really brought the house down on the band's past. Here was rock music that didn't beat you into submission but quietly convinced you upon repeated listening that it was 'right'.
Though in the long run The Unforgettable Fire would be overshadowed by the mega-success of The Joshua Tree (which we'll talk about later) I think it's pretty safe to say there would have been no Joshua Tree without it. It's my favorite U2 album and in my top 5 of best rock albums ever.
Title track: The Unforgettable Fire