U2
October


3.5
great

Review

by RandyfromPennywise USER (34 Reviews)
May 22nd, 2007 | 19 replies


Release Date: 1981 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The music is good. The experimentation is obvious. Unfortunately, the lyrics and sentiment are overbearing and exceedingly impassioned. Nevertheless October is still a rockin' album.

October is the second studio album from U2, the follow-up to their impressive debut Boy. I think it’s fair to say that the Irish quartet didn’t really follow through on the promise of Boy until 1983’s War - October is generally seen as the least-popular of the 11 studio albums from the band. This is not to say that there aren’t some inspiring and attractive moments here, but it doesn’t hold a candle to their albums of the following decade.

U2 have always - at the very least - made likeable Rock music. Some of their best work is some of the most acclaimed music of modern times. But enough about U2’s other work, why is October rarely spoken about and widely seen as one of the band’s worst albums? Well it never seems to find its niche. The experimentation is tangible, but the results are varied. Where Boy was a coherent and fitting debut, October is all over the shop. There’s no reason why “all over the shop” can’t work though, but on October there is little fluency. The word ‘filler’ is thrown around a lot, but it really does describe most of this album: ‘Filler’ in the sense that most of the songs are “good”, but far from memorable. Unfortunately for October, the great moments don’t come often enough and are ultimately overshadowed by too many pedestrian tracks.

Having your second album centred around faith and “God” is pretty ambitious, but then again U2 have always had ambition. It’s been one of their defining characteristics for near-on 30 years. And it’s great to have such ambition. It undeniably helps October, giving it some vitality and enthusiasm. The problem is that only a few songs really stick out as anything more than average. Songs like I Fall Down benefit from a typically-U2 hook and use the interplay between instruments effectively, but fail to really set the album alight. To the album’s credit, there are few awkward moments and no unpleasant tracks here. October doesn’t have any ‘bad’ songs, but the problem is that it is full of these ‘not bad’ songs, rather than ‘great’ songs. There certainly isn’t a “One”, “Where The Streets Have No Name” or “Sunday Bloody Sunday” on here. Gloria is probably as close as the album comes to offering up a classic U2 track, with it’s sharp guitar lead and pumping drum beat. It draws upon the musical sentiment of Boy, but the lyrics are all October. The lead line of “Gloria, In te domine” - which translates to “Glory to God in the highest” - is almost a statement about the theme of the album. It’s certainly a strong opener and one of the highlights of the album.

While the negative aspects of October seem to be so easy to talk about, it is often forgotten that above all else it is still a solid Rock album from an epoch more suited to disco and synthesisers. It underlines U2’s quality - one of their weakest albums is still pretty good. The frustrating thing about October is that it could have been so much better. Boy was a great debut and the band had shown it had the ability to pen truly memorable songs, yet October didn’t fully deliver. The album never ‘falls away’ or anything like that, but looking back over a 30-year career this album doesn’t stand out.

The sedate and brooding Tomorrow draws on traditional Irish influences in an obvious example of the band’s extended experimentation. The vocal line is at times reminiscent of Ugly Kid Joe’s Cats In The Cradle and the sound builds impressively towards the rolling final choruses. This experimental, heavily-instrumental section of the album continues with the piano-driven title-track, October. While it is refreshing to see the band try something completely foreign to them at that stage of their careers, the track fails to make any significant impact, particularly as it struggles to break past two minutes in length. To emphasise what I mean about most of the album being solid if unspectacular, on iTunes I’ve rated nine of the 11 tracks 3/5. If nothing else it shows that the album is at least consistent, if not brilliant.

Rejoice has proved to be one of the enduring tracks from the album, still a favourite among fans and occasionally played live - and rightly so. The Edge’s guitar work is as sharp and beguiling as ever with his crisp and lingering chords providing Bono with the perfect platform to wax lyrical about personal and communal suffering and development. The line “I can’t change the world, But I can change the world in me” is one of the best from the album and essentially sums up the feeling of faith and spirituality seen throughout. The thumping drums and driving bass make this one of the most full-blooded Rock songs in the U2 catalogue. It really drags the album up by its boot laces and caps off a strong first 15 minutes. While Gloria might lay claims to being the closest thing to a classic U2 track from the album, Rejoice is the best song on here. Not to mention the guitar intro is as catchy a riff as you'll hear. The fast, powerful Rock feeling of Rejoice is carried throughout the album making October one of the most ‘Rock’ albums of U2’s career.

Looking back at the U2 discography, this is probably as an important album as any of the early 80s, if for no other reason than it helped set the framework for their phenomenal success of the immediate years to follow. The band was still trying to find its feet, and while the formula hadn’t been mastered yet back in ’81, October was an important part of the learning curve for the Irish foursome. While there are several pretty good songs on here, they haven’t managed to form the legacy for this album - as the opening tracks of The Joshua Tree did for that album. Nonetheless this album is probably rated too harshly as it is often compared with the band’s other work (as I have done throughout this review). But standing alone it is a decent album, and certainly not the failure many others - and 26 years of hindsight - would have you believe.



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user ratings (280)
Chart.
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Comments:Add a Comment 
RandyfromPennywise
May 22nd 2007


752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That mp3 up there isn't working, can a mod please remove it?

So now all of the U2 albums have reviews, cool.

JohnXDoesn't
May 22nd 2007


1287 Comments


wow an October review at last! and a good one, too. how many times have i thought about doing it only to brush it aside? how many times, lord! :p

anywho this album was indeed recorded at a time of turmoil and confusion for the group. and ya the lyrics. someone stole them and bono had to start from scratch in studio. something he has done ever since for a good deal.

nice review, important album in their catalog. i think this takes care of all their original releases for sputnik now :thumb:This Message Edited On 05.22.07

RandyfromPennywise
May 22nd 2007


752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haha I'm the same. I remember when I reviewed Boy I was like "yeah I'll do October soon" because I remember you saying that it was the last one remaining. And it took me all of this time to get around to it!

Yeah I read that about the lyrics, interesting.

dub sean
May 22nd 2007


980 Comments


nice review...I don't have this album though....This Message Edited On 05.22.07

RandyfromPennywise
May 22nd 2007


752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You changed your name hey.. Yeah it's probably not worth getting this album to be honest, but Gloria and Rejoice are certainly worth a listen.

dub sean
May 22nd 2007


980 Comments


I've heard Gloria from one of the live albums, forget witch one.

yeah I changed my name, couldn't stand being Djs187 anymore, felt gay
and how do I become an approved reviewer?This Message Edited On 05.22.07

MrKite
May 22nd 2007


5020 Comments


Make reviews of noticeably good quality.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2007


2711 Comments


Good show, Randy - nice job.

RandyfromPennywise
May 22nd 2007


752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cheers fellas.

Sean - just keep writing reviews of good quality and a mod will eventually notice you and make you approved, I think that's how it works. There's no set number you need to write, just make sure your reviews aren't rushed jobs or not read through at least a few times and you're half-way there.

Two-Headed Boy
May 22nd 2007


4527 Comments


I really like War and The Unforgettable fire, but otherwise I could live without U2. So this sounds pretty good.

RandyfromPennywise
May 22nd 2007


752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

If you like War surely you must like Achtung Baby and The Joshua Tree, not to mention their last two studio albums?????

Two-Headed Boy
May 22nd 2007


4527 Comments


Sorry. :-/

dub sean
May 22nd 2007


980 Comments


Sean - just keep writing reviews of good quality and a mod will eventually notice you and make you approved, I think that's how it works. There's no set number you need to write, just make sure your reviews aren't rushed jobs or not read through at least a few times and you're half-way there.


thanks, um, Randy i guess haha, I'll just keep working away at all the albums on here without reviews.

RandyfromPennywise
May 22nd 2007


752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haha no the "don't rush it, read through it" part wasn't directed at you :lol: that's more of a general observation. Most people can write decently enough, they just don't take the time to get rid of the mistakes, clean it up etc. If you do that, you'll get approved soon enough.

Also here's a tip if you want to write good reviews, I recommend writing some or maybe all of it, then leave it for a bit, go eat some food or something or look up some porn or whatever, then come back to it. You'll notice so many more mistakes and sentences that don't need to be there etc if you do that.

dub sean
May 23rd 2007


980 Comments


haha ok, that sounds like a good idea.

MrGumby
February 1st 2014


16 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a great album. You need to hear it more than once to appreciate it. But i do admit that the last 3 song aren't that good.

Nagrarok
September 17th 2014


8316 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pretty sure I only listened to this once more than six years ago, wow. It's a lot better than I remembered.

TalonsOfFire
September 19th 2014


9660 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Average rating is surprisingly low for this

KILL
September 19th 2014


72280 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

its about right

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