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Achtung, Boy!

U2 at War and before.

by Dr. Spin
August 11, 2003

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Achtung, Boy!_Dr. Spin-U2 at War and before. Dear Dr. Spin,

Except for Rattle and Hum and Pop! I own every non-compilation U2 CD of all their albums since 1984's The Unforgettable Fire. This is the work of a young but matured and great band. My question is, are U2's works previous to Unforgettable Fire worth buying for one who's intersted only in great music, and not into fan worship or scholarly analysis? That is to ask, did U2 put out a great album before Unforgettable Fire?

-Some kid


Dear Some,

There are some fans of U2 who feel the band became “too commercial” after the release of Joshua Tree; they would argue that only U2’s first three albums are really worth buying.

Early U2 is a lot different that later U2. I would go so far as to compare early U2 to the early Beatles, say, pre-Rubber Soul. This comparison is not so much content as it is in style. Long before Bono became a world-weary Rock star, he was a bright-eyed kid from Dublin and the band had a raw, vibrant energy that revealed its Punk influences. I’m sure you’ve heard some of U2’s early stuff on the radio, songs like “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” “New Year’s Day” and their very first hit “I Will Follow.” Suffice to say that these songs are characteristic of U2’s first three albums. I have U2’s 1983 effort, War, and enjoy it very much, much more than the over-played Joshua Tree. And Boy and October are on my list of CDs to buy. To me, early U2 still sounds fresh and vibrant today, and that’s say a lot for music that was released over 20 years ago.

* * *

Dr. Spin would like to take this opportunity to note the passing of Sam Phillips, founder of the legendary Sun Records. It can be argued that without Sun and Mr. Phillips’ willingness to record anyone, Rock ‘n’ Roll might never exist. Very few recording companies in the early fifties had the guts and vision to record both black and white artists, especially those playing this weird country/blues hybrid that became Rock. Though Mr. Phillips will always be known as “the man who discovered Elvis", Sun was also the birthing point for the careers of Johnny Cash, Roy Orbinson, Jerry Lee Lewis Carl Perkins, Howlin’ Wolf, and so many more. Sam Phillips had an incredible ear for music, and no other small label has created a roster of talent that could compare to his. God bless you Mr. Phillips and your tiny little label!

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