U2

TrackAlbum
ExitThe Joshua Tree
GonePop
If You Wear That Velvet DressPop
MofoPop
OneAchtung Baby
Running To Stand StillThe Joshua Tree
SurrenderWar
The Unforgettable FireThe Unforgettable Fire
WireThe Unforgettaable Fire
ZooropaZooropa

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Contributor: Mat Baker

Ok, so U2 are shit.

Except, they’re not. There was a time where their output was interesting and challenging. Not as interesting as Pavement, and not as challenging as The Fall, but at times over their career, they have made some proper music.

You might disagree, and I would understand that. Indeed, if it wasn’t for Coldplay, they would probably be the anti-choice of most people that like to give the impression that they love their music, and music is a serious business, and I would find it hard to put up a defence.

They were my first proper music crush. I flirted with other bands and musicians, but they were the first band that I fell for, hook line and sinker. My first gig was at Wembley Stadium in 1987 on the Joshua Tree tour, and that album was the first one that I queued up for on the day of its release.

I have the vinyl packs 4 U2 Play, (including the elusive U2-3 EP), and they are filed away upstairs despite the fact that I haven’t owned a device for playing records for nearly two decades. I intend to pass them on like a family heirloom to whichever child shows the most interest in proper music (a race currently led by my son).

I was a proper fan, which has made the last decade or so all the more painful, because they have become bloated rock star clichés, more interested in swelling their enormous personal fortunes than making decent music. Their last album, No Line On The Horizon, was a debacle. It still sold 5m copies, though. Sigh.

And as for Bono, ah, I had better not even start.

Look, if you don’t believe me that they have made some decent music, listen to the intro on Gone or see how fresh the guitar work on Wire sounds. I think a good judge of music is how it stands the test of time, and The Unforgettable Fire album doesn’t sound like it was made in the middle of the 80s at all. When they were good, they were very good.

I have tried to stay off the more obvious choices in this selection, but I couldn’t leave out One. It is still one of my favourite songs of all time. Bono has written some dreadful lyrics over the years, but when he gets it right, he is a poet. He nails it on One. It is a near-perfect song.

Do I listen to U2 much anymore? It’s a no. To be frank, despite the level of emotion that your first love leaves stamped on your being, I have to confess that I have been seeing other bands and musicians for some time now, and they give me things that U2 simply can’t any more, and it has been like this for some time.

I might return on occasion for the comfort of a hand-picked U2 compilation, but I am just using them. I don’t love U2 any more.

And it’s not me. It’s them.

U2 official site

Website by U2 fans for U2 fans

U2 biography (iTunes)

TopperPost #91

4 Comments

  1. John Askin
    Oct 8, 2013

    People often name Pop as their least favourite U2 album. It’s certainly not the dance album that some describe it as. For me, it is one of their best. The moody and edgy (no pun intended) ‘Please’ is a particular favourite of mine.

    • Mat Baker
      Oct 8, 2013

      The sales figures for Pop were disappointing (relatively speaking), and I have always thought it an under-rated album. I seem to recall when “Discotheque” came out that a lot of hardcore fans had trouble dealing with it. It’s a pity, because I think they made some of their most interesting music in the mid 90s.

      Since then, they have very much resorted to type, and the music, whilst being usually pretty proficient, has been lacking originality and inspiration.

      Don’t get me wrong, the three subsequent albums have had their moments (even the last one), but it’s hard not to draw the conclusion that they were made with one eye on the sales figures.

      I believe they have a new one coming out soon – once upon a time I would have known all about it – so it will be interesting to see if the poor sales (again, in relative terms) of No Line will encourage them to veer in another direction.

      I doubt it, somehow. I expect another stadium rock album and a record breaking tour that will undoubtedly please the lowest common denominator masses.

      Do I sound bitter?

      Ah, you never forget your first broken heart, either!

  2. Merric Davidson
    Oct 8, 2013

    Mat probably thought I’d pipe up with a shout for something from the – I think – excellent first LP, “Boy”, but when push comes to shove I couldn’t think which. In the end I’ll plump for track one, I Will Follow, and from somewhere near the end, The Electric Co. Plus, Gloria, from “October”‘ and the hit, New Year’s Day from “War” – rather liked the (first signs of?) grandiose video. After that I’m all at sea with U2 but have promised Mat I’ll lend the good ear to his choices and I commend him for an entertaining post which plays to all our emotions and “first loves”.

    • Mat Baker
      Oct 8, 2013

      There is something to be said for the first two raw albums, but for the life of me I can’t remember when I had a hankering to listen to them.

      I would be genuinely interested to see what you make of my list above – much of it is far removed from the simplicity of a track like “I will follow”. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with a bit of simplicity in music, or in life in general…

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