I can easily see how for some people this is their favourite U2 album. It’s the least pretentious, by a long shot and doesn’t come with all the ego that would drown later albums. It’s their purest record, in the sense that it’s just them, as a strange post-punk / new wave band, borne of the 1970s but positioned for the 1980s, punctuated by the Edge’s stabbing guitar lines. Each subsequent album would (arguably) get musically stronger until they were the biggest band in the world from the early ‘90s onwards.
It’s funny how you can still hear the old U2 in the U2 of today. The background vocals on new single The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone) could have been lifted off something like Out Of Control on this, their debut record. So they’re still the same band, just doing everything on a bigger scale these days.
I always put U2 in the same camp as R.E.M – both developed out of weird places, off rock n’ roll’s usually well-beaten path; both bands rose to prominence in the ‘80s to become the biggest bands on their respective sides of the Atlantic in the ‘90s; both bands are four-pieces in the traditional sense of the world – guitarist, bass player, drummer, vocalist; both bands had a slew of albums under their belt before they crossed over into the mainstream; the similarities go on and on.
2014 was a bad year for U2. They tried to be clever by force-feeding their new album, Songs Of Innocence, on the general public via iTunes. Essentially, they spammed the world with something the vast majority of people didn’t want or need. The weird thing is that even though they gave it away for free, people still bought it. When it released properly, it hit #1 in all the charts. Presumably all the digital luddites who didn’t have iTunes rushed out to buy it, to see what all the fuss was about.
Tragedy almost struck a few weeks later when the door of the private jet Bono was flying in, flew open in mid-air. He then had a cycling accident, fracturing his eye socket, his shoulder blade, his upper arm, and his little finger (cue joke about him riding on the pavement, too close to the Edge).
Karma’s a bitch.
Hit: I Will Follow
Hidden Gem: Out Of Control