Album #528 – War
War is the first album on the album challenge list from my favorite band: U2. Released in 1983, War was U2’s most political album up to that point. Their third album also had a more gritty and raw sound thanks to the production of Steve Lillywhite. War would be the last time he would produce a U2 album by himself, collaborating in the future with Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno. It features songs about political problems in their own homeland (Sunday Bloody Sunday) and abroad (New Year’s Day). U2 still is a very political centered band and have always written about things happening in their world, not just about themselves. It is probably why I am drawn to them so much. The band, in terms of songwriting, can be very selfless and more about addressing a need. They are also a collective and even though Bono may appear to be above his band mates, he is not. War certainly captures that. It became their breakthrough album in the UK, knocking Michael Jackson’s Thriller off the top of album charts. New Year’s Day was their first UK top 10 hit. In the US, War was the first U2 release that made an impact to rock radio stations as a whole. Prior to its release, a select few stations were playing their music. MTV also played a role, showing the video’s for New Year’s Day and Two Hearts Beat As One in high rotation. The tour that followed the release of War, also brought the group new fans. Many were attracted to the band’s energy and heart on their sleeve mentality. Bono was certainly more than your typical front man. He would run around the stage, climb scaffolding and even run into the crowd and bring audience members on stage. It was something that never sat entirely well with his band mates but, set U2 apart from other bands of their era. The live album and concert video Under A Blood Red Sky fully captures what the U2 live experience was like during the War tour. The momentum would only continue to build in the next couple of years. The group are joined by guest musicians on War, something that never happened on previous albums. Kid Creole’s female backing singers sang background vocals on three of the album’s tracks. They are a surprising choice considering their music is a stark contrast from U2’s brand of arena rock. Rumor has it that they were asked after the band saw them playing live in Dublin. Kenny Fradley plays trumpet on a track and future Waterboys fiddle player Steve Wickham adds emotion to Sunday Bloody Sunday and Drowning Man (my favorite song on the album), making those two tracks standouts on this album. Other stark differences on War include The Edge’s first appearance on lead vocals on Seconds and Adam Clayton’s lack of participation in the album’s closing track 40. Clayton left the studio just before that track was recorded. So, the remaining three band members wrote the song and the Edge ended up playing guitar and bass. Clayton will now play guitar and the Edge will play bass when the song is performed live. Overall, War is an indicator of where U2’s career was headed and proves why they became the only band that matters. Other highlights include: Like A Song…(written in response to critics who said they weren’t punk enough). Overall, I give War, 5 out of 5.
Next: Synchronicity by The Police