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|And the battle's just begun
There's many lost, but tell me who has won?
The trenches dug within our hearts
And mothers, children, brothers, sisters
-- Sunday Bloody Sunday - U2
" One of only a few bands to achieve consistent commercial
and critical success across two full decades, U2 has charted success on its own
terms on both the artistic and business sides of the music industry. From the
band's earliest days in Dublin, Ireland, to the present, U2 has broken free
from the traditional limitations of what a rock band - and rock music - could
and couldn't do.
(...) U2 formed in Dublin in the autumn of 1976 after 14-year-old Larry Mullen, Jr. posted a note on the bulletin board at his school seeking musicians for a new band. From the group of hopefuls that showed up at Mullen's home that first day, a 5-piece known originally as Feedback formed, with Mullen (born October 31, 1961) on drums, Adam Clayton (b. March 13, 1960) on bass, Paul Hewson (later nicknamed 'Bono Vox' and eventually just Bono, b. May 10, 1960) on vocals, and Dave Evans (later nicknamed The Edge, b. August 8, 1961) on guitar. Dave's brother Dick also played guitar for a while, but left Feedback very early on to join another Dublin band.
(...) After continuing to build a large following inside Ireland, and after the success of a second Irish-only single, Island Records signed U2 in March 1980. The first album to come from that agreement was 'Boy,' released in October of that year. The album offered a fresh, new sound that earned rave reviews in both the Irish and UK press while Bono's lyrics tackled subjects like faith, spirituality, and death.
(...) Well over twenty years on, it appears that U2 still has plenty of gas in its tank. The four original band members remain close friends and stellar musicians, and their collective ambition appears to be as strong as ever. While most U2 fans don't expect the band to ever revisit the worldwide sales success of 'The Joshua Tree' and 'Achtung Baby', the fact remains that U2 is one of only a few bands qualified to wear the label of World's Biggest Band, as proved by the Number 1 success of 'Beautiful Day'."
-- Matt McGee, atu2.com
½ 1980: Boy
"(...) Musically, then, the word is sophistication not spontaneity. It's left to Bono to carry an abandon and passion. He sings heartfelt, beautifully observed lyrics of innocence, failure, sadness with a fearless sentimentality -- someth ing else that upsets the non-believers -- and poignant urgency. A mixture of the ordinary and the bizarre, a series of shadowy, menacing, lyrical vignettes that are sung as if they're dear, dark secrets being wrenched away. They are songs of emotional uncertainty and extreme insecurity. The title 'Boy' refers to Bono, his boyish rapt imaginings, to the recurring use of the word 'boy' in the songs, as Bono symbolises his confusion and reflects, beneath the music's meticulous presentation, the essential innocence of U2. (A decaying of innocence.) The sense of wonder. It mixes peculiarly with the music's obstinate melodrama."
-- Paul Morley, NME, 10/1980
¾ 1981: October
"Of the four band members, only Adam Clayton wasn't an admitted Christian. Bono, The Edge, and Larry joined a religious group in Dublin called Shalom, which led all three to question the relationship between the Christian faith and the rock and roll lifestyle. After nearly throwing in the towel on U2, they decided it was possible to reconcile the two and continue making music without shedding their personal beliefs. But the band's confusion led to an unfocused record: "October" sold relatively well on the growing strength of U2's name, but failed to yield the hit single many in the industry expected. "
-- Matt McGee, atu2.com
"Their third album finds U2 expanding the focus of its music to encompass worldwide issues without losing sight of their original focus: the individual. The new tracks depict reactions to war and the future, and their effect on emotions and relationships. This is U2's most developed and mature album both lyrically and musically. The percussion has been brought forward-it is no longer simply a backdrop for the vocals and guitar work, but shares center stage with them, and sometimes even takes the lead, as on Sunday Bloody Sunday. The single, New Years Day is already a hit as a 12" and should receive the most play. "
-- CMJ New Music Report
¾ 1983: Under a Blood Red Sky
This EP was comprised of music from three live performances from the War Tour.
¼ 1984: The Unforgettable Fire
"'The Unforgettable Fire' has a lot to live up to - and it's this listener's verdict that it does so, unequivocally. One of the most significant aspects of 'The Unforgettable Fire' is the maturing of Bono's abilities as a lyric writer and singer. Throughout the album his choice of language and use of imagery is rich and imaginative, sometimes brilliantly so, as in Promenade, a beautifully embellished love song, that's both spiritual and sensual, and wherein Bono echoes Van Morrison in the line "up the spiral staircase to the higher ground." This then, is the beginning of the new chapter of U2. With an album as rich and rewarding as 'The Unforgettable Fire' as an introduction, the possibilities for the future seem limitless. "
-- Liam Mackey, Hot Press, 10/1984
¼ 1987: The Joshua Tree
"More than any other U2 album, though, The Joshua Tree has the power and allure to seduce and capture a mass audience on its own terms. Without making a show of its eclecticism, it features assertive rock (Where the Streets Have No Name), raw frenzy (Bullet the Blue Sky), delicacy (One Tree Hill), chugging rhythms (I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For) and even acoustic bluesiness (Running to Stand Still) all of it unmistakably U2."
-- RollingStone Magazine
1988: Rattle and Hum
"Rattle and Hum is an expression of U2's urge to have it both ways. A sprawling double album that incorporates live tracks, cover versions, collaborations, snippets of other people's music and a passage from a taped interview, the record is an obvious effort to clear the conceptual decks and lower expectations following the multiplatinum success of The Joshua Tree."
-- Anthony DeCurtis, Rolling Stone
¾ 1991: Achtung Baby
"(...) Despite its awful title, Achtung Baby is in many ways an admirable record. Surprisingly introverted and complex, and with little of the usual flag-waving, it is also strangely tuneful. Bono's singing is at times almost subtle, and The Edge even turns off the chime button of his guitar once or twice. The lyrics are still a Bono of contention, but at least there are no songs about walls being broken down. To their credit, U2 have never been afraid to risk losing fans, whether by telling American audiences that Noraid was not a good thing or by making a dense and initially impenetrable record like this one."
-- Ben Thompson, The Independent (UK)
¼ 1993: Zooropa
"(...) Most rock bands cling to their credibility, but U2 has been trying to shake its for some time. Last year Bono began wearing bug-eyed shades and playing the rock-star game for laughs. Now U2 delivers the confounding 'Zooropa': a few great songs and some off-the-cuff studio noodling. 'Zooropa' says, "Why ask why?" We know why U2 would toss off a record halfway between here and brilliance: because it can.
The chief surprises are a droning industrial tune called Numb with a mantra-like rap by guitarist The Edge, and The Wanderer, a strange hymn that pits a bouncy synthesizer riff against an imperious guest vocal by Johnny Cash. "
¼ 1997: Pop
"When the word came out that U2 was creating a 'dance' album that would incorporate the workings of cutting-edge artists such as Tricky, the music world collectively held their breath. But rather than taking the world by storm, on Pop, U2 have merely incorporated some successful elements from dance acts into their standard material. (...) With other bands, Pop would be a curious mild entry into the world of dance music. The keyboard programming isn't complex, and there aren't any revolutionary songs here. However, U2's evolutionary process continues on Pop. Fans of Sunday Bloody Sunday will wonder where Bono's passion has gone. Fans of Tricky and Massive Attach will question what the hullaboo is about. And music fans in between will flock to buy U2's latest album, Pop."
-- Bob Gajarsky, Consumable, 3/97
¼ 1999: The Best of 1980-1990
"This nostalgic effort may be viewed as a cautionary move by a middle-aged band unsure of its next move, but it shines for showing one of this era's greatest groups in its dazzled, daring youth. The hits still soar, and may sound grandiose to today's humbled rock fans, but the joy comes in those B-sides. It's a thrill to hear the Edge feeling out his signature guitar style, and Bono wrestle with his messianic urges. These tracks offer a look at U2 in all its yelping earnestness, and makes one long for the days when reaching for more was a rocker's best hope."
Ann Powers, The New York Times
2000: All That You Can't Leave Behind
"(...) Stepping outside of their natural environment ensured their longevity in the 90's, stepping back in seems to have given them a fresh boost. For all Zooropa and Pop's pushing of the enveloppe, limiting themselves to rock's core ingredients has given the band a new challenge, Certainly, not since the Joshua Tree have U2 sounded so like U2 but, with songs of this starling calibre, right now being U2 is no bad thing."
-- Mark Blake, Q4music.com
¾ 2002: The Best of 1990-2000
2004: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
Tracklisting: 1.Vertigo 2.Miracle Drug 3.Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own 4.Love and Peace or Else 5.City of Blinding Lights 6.All Because of You 7.A Man and a Woman 8.Crumbs from Your Table 9.One Step Closer 10.Original of the Species 11.Yahweh
"... Any semblance of the modernity or progress they embarked upon with 'Achtung Baby' has flown out of the window. U2 are now content to make records befitting their age. They tastefully employ computer programming these days, rather than try to meld themselves and their own style with Grime, Drum 'n' Bass, or whatever the latest trend happens to be. Which is all fine and well, the U2 fanbase is so huge and well-established, that U2 don't actually need to experiment too radically just at the moment. How long they can put out records in the same style, is another matter. Judging by past history, after their next album - they'll be looking into other directions once more. (...) Vertigo which blasts this album off, is basically a vastly superior re-write of Elevation from their previous album. (...) The second song here, Miracle Drug is clearly aimed at being 'emotive' and will probably be the next single. It's typical U2, mentions of sun in eyes, new born babies. A song that's so apparently 'uplifting', that it seems to be a song almost mathematically calculated at being so. Which is actually the main problem with this album. At times, it comes across as a particularly talented U2 tribute band making an album, rather than U2 themselves. We wonder how long Bono's voice will hold out if he continues to sing in the same bellowing manner that he does, etc, etc. On the otherhand, Edge, Clayton and Larry all sound superb, if deeply unimaginative, in their playing. Yeah, this album plays it very safe, although credit where credit is due. This is a collection of solid songs that will appeal to lots of people."
-- adriandenning.co.uk, 12/04
2009: No Line on the Horizon
Tracklisting: 1. No Line On The Horizon 2. Magnificent 3. Moment of Surrender 4. Unknown Caller 5. Ill Go Crazy If I Dont Go Crazy Tonight 6. Get On Your Boots 7. Stand Up Comedy 8. Fez Being Born 9. White As Snow 10. Breathe 11. Cedars Of Lebanon
Release date: March 3, 2009
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