Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I Was the One Who Should Go


Original Facebook post here.
Today's formative-album replay: October. I'm realizing that to call this my favorite U2 album, as I have for years, was a way of laying down a marker: to prove I was into them before War (I guess I'm not above that kind of insidiously protective fandom), and also to express my dissent from the universal acclaim for War, which didn't hit me like their first two. On a fresh listen, I realize that my love for October also has more to do with the sound than the songs, of which there are only a handful of great ones (the first three, basically), and the rest of which are mostly inchoate or repetitive, but all of which are arranged and played with such vigor and clarity that they still sound fresh, like a band finding the grooves and frontiers of their individual and collective sounds. Edge's guitar is the leader here, even more than Bono's voice, and what I love are not so much the chugging, wall-of-sound effects he became known for but the jagged, Gang-of-Four-like single-note guitar lines on which many of the songs are built. That the album happens to have more God than politics is also OK by me (indeed, a large number of the songs come off essentially as angry praise music), but above all I respond to the arching, leap-frogging counterpoint of guitar, bass, drums, and yes, vocals. Their best album may be Achtung Baby or Joshua Tree, but the questing sound of October remains a benchmark for me.

Comments:
Bradford Jones My friend Robb and I were discussing the first five U2 albums last night. Great to see your write-up here today.
David Tobocman This was my first best loved U2 album too, way before War. I will have to give it a full album play ASAP. Actung Baby remains my favorite and I think that milestone album very much pointed the way for the music of the future that we have been enjoying ever since. Thanks for your reliable insights, Rob and happiness to you in the new year.
Rob Weinert-Kendt Brad, it's so great to see you chime in here, because it was the 90-minute TDK cassette of MURMUR and RECKONING you gave me when our lockers were adjacent (the alphabet is destiny) that opened up R.E.M. to me. (Brett Oeser is the one who gave me a 90-minute cassette containing BOY and OCTOBER.) I feel like we're continuing a musical conversation across the decades here ('cause we are).
Lisa Callamaro I love this album.... It's seminal to understanding who they are I believe.
Carrie Yoshimura Farnham I think Achtung Baby is their best album, but I like how present they are in the early stuff. And it was on The Joshua Tree tour that I first saw them live (with you, actually) and felt the power of their performances. It feels like there are many U2s to enjoy.
Jeremy J Lee Haven't listened to that album for a while. Checked into it again, and realized that my high school and college guitar playing were mostly inspired by The Edge, Alex Liefson and Iron Maiden with a little SRV, Paul Simon and Indigo Girls thrown in for good measure. No wonder my bands didn't really go anywhere.
Jeremy J Lee Oh, and some of the jazzy side of Jethro Tull at times...
 

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