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U2 – War (1983)

January 20, 2017

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Exemplary Artist of the Week logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

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[Album 506/1001]

When did you lose interest in U2?

a) I’ve been at War with them since the 80s
b) They lost my attention (baby) around Achtung Baby (1991)
c) I left them behind after  All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000)
d) After the iTunes marketing stunt of 2014
e) False: I’ve never lost interest

For me, it’s the old Multiple Choice advice: when in doubt, pick c).

Though I quite liked All That You Can’t Leave Behind, I haven’t felt inspired to buy any of their albums since.

I think I hit the point with U2 of feeling, “OK, I’ve heard what I need to hear from these guys,” and never really went back.

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That being said, if I hadn’t heard War, I don’t think I’d be in a position to make such an incurious statement.

Though the album doesn’t have any dud tracks per se, as is often the case with U2, the giant singles will likely steer listener reactions.

On War, these loved-or-loathed singles would be Sunday Bloody Sunday & New Year’s Day.

And I’m still a fan of both.220px-u2_war_album_cover

Sunday Bloody Sunday is a potent opening track. It’s certainly drummer Larry Mullen Jr.’s most memorable performance and The Edge gets a lot of mileage out of those 3 chords. The verse lyric “there’s many lost, but tell me who has won?” is among Bono’s finest.

Never ones to shy away from marketing experiments, you’ll never guess U2’s release date for the New Year’s Day single! Adam Clayton’s bass propels the song and the piano is a nice touch. The verse lyric “So we’re told this is the Golden Age, when gold is the reason for the wars we wage,” is right up there too.

I imagine if you despise U2, these two tracks are among the most despise-ed, perhaps the most offensive tracks in the catalogue.

But even the staunchest U2phobes can’t deny the urgency of Sunday Bloody Sunday & New Year’s Day; whether you liked what they had to say, both would be more than deserving of ‘must hear’ status.

And ‘must hear’ aren’t words I’ve associated much with U2 over the last decade and a half.

So I suppose there’s nothing quite like immersion to pique an interest in something.

Or re-immersion and re-pique-ing(?) in my case this week with U2.

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Verbalize the Positive

I quite enjoyed jofrommontreal‘s recent post, Top 20 Canadian Albums. It was especially nice to see Fully Completely and Twice Removed make the cut!

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From → 1980s

25 Comments
  1. Zack permalink

    I’ve never been a huge fan of U2, but this might find it’s way to my wish list. It has 2/3 of the U2 songs I like.

    • Have you read Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy? I can’t recall the exact quotes, but I remember that sort of tantalizing statement came up a lot, ‘this is the 3rd worst thing that happened’ or that sort of thing.
      I simply have to know what the 3rd U2 song is! Maybe I Will Follow?

      • Zack permalink

        I’ve read the whole trilogy. Don’t remember that though.
        The third song? One.

      • A nice song choice – thanks for not leaving me in suspense Zack!

  2. I kinda gave up after Zooropa…but I still purchased the POP album afterwards…basically the answer is ‘C’…But I think they did me in as far back as Achtung Baby…It doesn’t get any better than that one as far as U2 goes in my book that is….
    I did rant about that Apple takeover thing that they pulled or stunt…hahaha…I dunno U2 2017 kinda bug me…am I bugging ya man?

    • And I think that’s why I still didn’t warm up to Bullet the Blue Sky in 2017 – Even though the recording was U2 1987, when he started talking towards the end of the song, I tuned out as for some reason, that took me out of ’87 and all I heard was U2 2017. And so I politely said, no thanks!
      But I think the live version you suggested may still change my mind though.
      Achtung’s probably my fave too – I have to give Zooropa another chance, I haven’t listened to it in decades. I remember being initially disappointed by the singles but then appreciating them more later on.

  3. I’m gonna take a leaf out of U2’s marketing book. My new song ‘Pancake Day’ is going to rule the woorrllldddd…

  4. I don’t rate albums on a numerical scale but if I did this would surely be a 10/10. 1983 was one of the most pivotal musical years for me, with “War,” Big Country’s “The Crossing” and The Alarm’s debut EP. Guitar rock was back in a new guise and I loved it all.

    As for your “losing interest” survey, the last album I truly loved was “All That You Can’t Leave Behind.” I’ve continued to buy their subsequent albums (only three of them, right?) and none have made much of an impact on me. I’ve been waiting for them to do a scaled-back, semi-acoustic album in the vein of “Running To Stand Still” for 30 years. I’m starting to think it’s never going to happen. 😛

    • I’d invest in such a semi-acoustic album!
      Perhaps there’s hope – a friend was saying he just got tickets to a 30th anniversary Joshua Tree show, maybe the band will dust off Running to stand still and get inspired to do more tunes in that vein?

  5. I guess the 80s was the decade that U2 genuinely had something brilliant about them. They had something to say and they had an urgency in their music. I really like Achtung Baby, but after that I have no interest. The concept albums and tours (or whatever they want to call Zooropa and Pop) and the ‘back to basics / roots’ of the latter stuff just sounds uninspired.

    • I’m with you on the lack of urgency of more recent songs – and speaking of uninspired, that lack of urgency is probably what’s left me not so inspired to check out more new U2.
      So you’d answer b)!

  6. Hey, thanks Steven for mentionning my post! I quite enjoyed writing it and it gave me the idea to work on a sequel (sort of), which is an All Time Top 20 Album Covers List. So if I can stop changing my mind every five seconds, I’ll post it, ideally in the near future..

    • My pleasure – I quite enjoyed the Top 20 post!
      The sequel sounds promising too, I find with my Top 5s there’s always an asterisk* – these are the Top 5 at the time of clicking publish, subject to change by the hour!

  7. My thoughts on U2 are pretty uneven, like their albums. I felt they got better when Daniel Lanois and Eno were involved.

    • And when they got involved, those albums definitely feel like ‘productions’ – lots of neat sounds.
      Though to give U2 credit, when I saw them live, the highlight of the night was Bono + The Edge duet (one acoustic guitar) singing Stay, so they can be effective without all the studio magic too!

  8. War, though, is a killer. Huge album.

  9. Christopher Kelley permalink

    I feel much the same. My blog about U2 is essentially run on the premise that they’re a good band who are good at being a bad band, but written because of the good stuff.

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