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U2 - War (remastered)

2008-09-29 08:40
They were out of synch with the times. They weren't radio pop, they weren't really a good fit with the punk dregs, and they didn’t share the self-centred New Wave ways. Rebelling against apathy they went into studio and they recorded War. It was destined to be one of the few big releases of the time tried to address the state of the world.

The album kicks off with the much-misunderstood "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (would those of you who still think it’s about how Monday sucks, or not wanting to go to church, do yourselves a favour and make use of Wikipedia?) On the first track, you can already hear the sound expanding, and pick up increased variation in the timbre of Bono’s vocals soul-searching.
Every song is a protest song, but they come from different places. While "Sunday Bloody Sunday” is an anthem, "Seconds" is an evocation of the personal experience of impending death and dislocation. "New Year's Day" mocks the idea that we start again just because a date turns around – and it’s hard to tell whether the 80s pop "Oh oh oh's" are a joke or just a sign that not even U2 escaped sounding like the times, even if they didn’t’ agree with prevailing culture. "Like a Song” is a loud and proud declaration of intent: "In leather, lace and chains we stake our claim / revolution once again".

War is worth owning, but it definitely isn’t brilliant all the way. "Drowning Man" feels rote, and features stinky lyrics like "Rise up, rise up with wings like eagles". Skip! Sometimes, loud and passionate aren't the same thing, particularly when combined with a self-righteous tone. "The Refugee"'s art-pop styling doesn’t suit the rest of the album, or succeed in disguising more weak lyrics. But on "Two Hearts Beat as One", U2 thankfully return to the signature "rattle and hum" sound they named their later overblown album after. "Red Light" ticks along to "Surrender", one of the albums real lost gems.

Finally, the reborn gospel ballad "40" lands the album gracefully (but uninterestingly) back where it began: asking whether - despite our personal revelations about right and wrong – the world will ever really be a better place.

- Jean Barker

In the early 80s, U2 languished as a mid-level band waiting to make it, with the roughly brilliant Boy behind them, the awful October in the closet, and Unforgettable Fire, Joshua Tree and the rest of their history still unimagined.

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Odette 2008/10/01 9:33 AM
Rattle & Hum I loved Rattle and Hum. I remember listening to my tape (yes, it was THAT long ago) over and over until I wore it out. :-)
Moto 2008/10/01 10:08 AM
Achtung Baby I didn't particularly listen to it when it was released (read: ignorant teens) but caught onto it at the end of the 90's. Every single track has something to say with a solid dose of musical and lyrical 'mastery' all over the place. Simply their best album ever!
Claire 2008/10/01 10:18 AM
Unforgettable Fire and Rattle and Hum Loved all their stuff and was a real groupie until probably after Achtung Baby. After that I got a bit bored. I still think that Bad, Running to Stand Still, Angel of Harlem and 40 are up there among my favourite "growing up" songs. Pity 'ol Paul Hewson got so full of himself. Should've stayed out of politics and just been a guy in an awesome rock band.
Johan Kotze 2008/10/01 1:51 PM
Auctung Baby This must be the their best Album ever. A bit of perfection around every lyric...
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