How do you go about establishing an album's identity so that all the songs sound like a cohesive whole and so the album itself has it's own character distinct from the thousands of other albums that are out there? I'm particularly interested in Achtung Baby in this regard.
Also, what are the most difficult decisions you have to make as a producer?
It's good to build a menu early on. A menu should be made of offerings that relate to the people you're working with. For example, if the guitar player in the band is excited about playing the slide guitar, let that be a flavor that you come back to a few times on the album. If the singer has a good falsetto, put it on display and make something of his strength. I let the flavors of a record come to me. On Achtung Baby we hit on some guitar sounds early on that we loved. For example, the auto-wah guitar intro for Mysterious Ways. This is a sound that we had not heard before. Reinventing the guitar is not easy and so if you hear something original - use it. Eno, Edge, Flood and I were very driven by the processing of sound at the time of Achtung Baby. We carried this theme thru the making of the album.