For some reason I always thought that there were a bunch of versions of Holy Joe, but there are only two. There’s a Garage Mix and a Guilty Mix. Why I thought there were more I don’t know, maybe because it came on the back of Discotheque, which really did have a thousand versions.
I did not realize that Holy Joe was only ever played live once, in the Kmart when U2 launched the Pop tour. I don’t know why they never played it again, it is a really good song. It is in fact better than many of the songs off Pop, if it was on the album I would probably have it as the second best song.
I can’t decide which of the two versions are better, but I think it might be the Garage Mix. It is shorter (4:22 vs 5:09 for the Guilty Mix), and I do think that it feels a little tighter. In fact when I checked the length of the two, I was surprised that Guilty is only 47 seconds longer, I would have guessed it to be about 6 minutes. I think the Guilty mix is a little slower, musically. It’s not that they’re playing slower, it’s almost like the song was played slowed down. Bono’s voice sounds the same, so maybe they just slowed down the music? I don’t know. I don’t have the technology to play the two songs side by side and slow one down, or speed one up, and see how well they match up.
The biggest issue, and again it may be because it was not a truly finished song (which is why it was a b side), is that there are times where Bono’s voice disappears into the music, and I have to strain to hear and figure out the lyrics. I’ve talked before about hearing that they have usually turned up Bono’s mic a bit, so it can be heard over the music, but maybe they didn’t do that this time.
Starts with “I’m a humble guy,” which we know Bono is not, and so that is an amusing line to me. The song does have a bunch of repetition, the “come on come on” sections play eight times, and the “here comes Holy Joe” five times (mostly together with the “come on” as well. Maybe that’s a detraction that took it off the album. I really do like the switch into the “Having the best time…” line, which appears a couple of times, it is a fun little change of pace for him to be singing those lines so much faster than the rest of the song.
As an aside, and a perhaps insulting thing, I have a friend called Joe who is deeply religious, the kind of religious that definitely wears it on his sleeve. Not only do I think of him as “Holy Joe” because of the song, but every time I hear the song I think of him. That’s kind of a double-edged sword right there.
My rating for Holy Joe: 7 / 10