Friday, May 02, 2008

A New Topic for Fridays

Now that we have dedicated the last several Fridays to discussing (read: arguing about) the best music, films, and television of the past three decades, I would like to focus our attention for the next few Fridays on arguably the best rock band of the last thirty years: U2.

In my view, a question like "Which U2 album is the best?" is virtually unanswerable—not because they’re all great, but because there are, by my count, four distinct U2s.

Let me explain….

The albums released in 1980, 1981, and 1983 (Boy, October, and War) are so different from what they put out during the rest of the decade that they belong in their own category. The same goes for ’84, ’87, and ’88: The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree, and Rattle and Hum form a threesome (I almost said “trinity”) that stands on its own. And the other two U2s, of course, are Nineties U2 (1991’s Achtung Baby, 1993’s Zooropa, and 1997’s Pop) and New Millennium U2 (2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind and 2004’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb).

Early ‘80s U2 was awesome. Growing up in Orange County I used to listen to KROQ 106.7 as a kid, and to this day I remember where I was when they played "New Year’s Day" in 1983. As a lad of ten I recognized how good these guys were. I went to Licorice Pizza (!) and bought War (the best of the first threesome), and the rest, as the fella said, is history.

My favorite song on War is, brace yourself, "Like a Song" ("Angry words won’t stop the fight; two wrongs won’t make it right; a new heart is what I need; O God, make it bleed"). "Drowning Man" and "New Year’s Day" are runners up.

And I don’t care what anyone says, I like the October album, which was their sophomore effort (you know, the one about God?). I have a killer, and very rare, live version of "With a Shout" ("I want to go to the foot of Mount Zion, to the foot of he who made me see"). Best song on their debut album Boy? Either "Another Time Another Place" or "Shadows and Tall Trees" ("Do you feel in me anything redeeming? Any worthwhile feeling? Is this life like a tightrope hanging from my ceiling?")

And yes, I own the original British LP of Boy with the shirtless kid, Peter Rowan, on the cover. Jealous?