U2
War


4.0
excellent

Review

by John Cruz USER (88 Reviews)
August 6th, 2005 | 114 replies | 19,113 views


Release Date: 1983 | Tracklist


6 of 7 thought this review was well written

Bono, Edge, Adam, Larry. Say the names today and most any fan of Rock n Roll will know exactly who you are talking about. But long before world domination, and in some quarters damnation, there was a little band from Ireland composed of 3 young idealist and a bass player who liked to smoke grass and get laid. They set out as a young band with a vague idea of who they were and an even vaguer idea of what to do or how to do it. On War, U2's third album in just about as many years, things were about to get a lot clearer.

Already a known quantity in Ireland, England, Scotland, and certain parts of Europe, where they were able to play before thousands upon release of this album, in early 1983 if you asked the average American who or what a U2 was, they would most likely shrug there shoulders or tell you it was a WW II spy plane. Having released their first album Boy just a few years earlier and enjoying a modest radio hit in the states with the memorable single I Will Follow, as well as mounting a couple of tours, they were not completely unknown in the rock community. But after the release of their second album October failed to generate the same kind of enthusiasm, and failed to produce the same kind of single, U2 in the states may as well of been just another band looking for a break. And for all intents and purposes, that's exactly what they were. With the release of War in early 1983, they were about to get that break.

War starts hard with a martial drum roll and high pitched squeal from a violin that could easily be guitar feedback as well. It's clear this album means business right from the start. The message of the song is apparent from the get go as Bono croons and and then pleads into the mic "I can't believe the news today/I can't close my eyes and make it go away/How long/How long must we sing this song/Tonite/ We can be as one tonite". It quickly goes on to describe the horrors of war and violence against innocents in no uncertain terms, and the band goes about it's business with uniform authority, knowing exactly what the song needs and how to deliver it. Sunday Bloody Sunday was a bold political statement in the times it was written, and it delivered a universal message of "we're not gonna take it" layerd with a hope for the future. And it is perhaps one of the best openings any rock album has ever had, as it grabs the listener fron the start and prepares him for whats to come. The second song, Seconds, keeps up this theme of politics with an apocolyptic message of impending control and death by A-Bomb, and the powers that be with their fingers on the button. The final cry of "say goodbye"! is not so much a prophecy of doom as a warning, though. And we have a feeling the band knows who we are and is standing with us, not for us.

What sepreates War from U2's previous two albums are indeed these politics of War. Whereas on Boy and October U2 found themselves expressing thier ideas through faith, hope, and youthful idealism alone, War gave them something to hang there idealist hats on, so to speak. The politics gave them the purpose and the purpose drove the music. And throughout the rest of the album, the politics now being estasblished, they would offer a far more focused version of what they had offered on Boy and October. Musically and lyrically. Following all this rattling of cages is New Years Day. The piano setting the tone for the song, it's longing and melancholy right from the beginning, and the listener is drawn into the song and it's message of faith and unity and starting again. The message seems to be despite any and all odds, we can be as one, and there is always hope around the next corner if you have faith enough to grab it. And after this, the album simply feels as if it falls into place like a row of toppling dominoes. Grand statements of love, faith, dreams, and yes even God, abound here. All wrapped around a vaguely political message. And it suits the young idealist of U2 just fine.

The music on War has also found a new way of getting across. Harder, more direct, and played with more vigor and purpose then before, everything sounds big on War. Whereas on October the big sound seemed to be adrift and somewhat directionless, here it is applied to tight songs and is driven forward with passion. On Drowning Man, a song about a man weathering the storms of life through faith, the music and sound is grand and sweeping with a background of simple acoustic guitar, and Edges soon to be trademark use of harmonics. As Bono sings "Rise up Rise up/With wings like eagles" we understand perfectly (perhaps through experiance) the needed strength for the task and the odds against making it. But the lyrics are very straight forward here, not uncertain and vague as on past U2 albums. And when Bono sings "The storm will pass/It won't be long now" we somehow believe him.

Elsewhere on the album we find U2 in a funky mood, like on the confused in love rocker Two Hearts Beat As One, where the singer professes his love for a woman and questions it in equal fashion. Adam Clayton's funky bass lines dominate the song and carry it along in a bouncy way that despite it's somewhat angst ridden lyrics feels like something you can shake your butt to, and is welcome relief from the drowning men and bloody sundays that had come before it. After this the albums mood becomes looser with Bono chasing hopeless love in Red Light and the band locking into a mid-tempo urban style funk groove for the starting again in love and life song, Surrender. The album closes with the unabashedly spiritual "40", a song of faith and hope and renewal with Bono taking words straight from bible scripture and closing the album where it started, with the gentle refrain of "How long to sing this song"?

War came to America at a time when Rock n Roll was on it's heels and the Cold War was in full swing. The "No Nukes" efforts of the 70's seemingly failed, the punk movement past it's prime and far too threatening, and arena rock bands being, well, arena rock bands. What War did was send a message to anyone whoever needed one or wanted to express one through music that the time of fight and struggle was not over. And that in the face of New Wave pop, the growing rap scene, anarchy punk and decadent metal, that rock in roll could still have purpose and meaning and widespread appeal at the same time. And that it can come from the simple basis of guitar, bass, drums, and a singer who doesn't know how to shut up from a little place called Ireland. And that was hope enough for plenty.

Number 221 on Rolling Stone Magazines list of top 500 albums of all time, U2's War is an almost perfect balance of politics, blind faith, hopeless love, and ringing guitars as you will likely find recorded over the last 22 years since it's release. The band would change direction after this album and never really look back. It was an album of the moment, yet timeless at the same time. And for U2, it was a bold statement that set them on the path they were looking for.



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user ratings (625)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnXDoesn't
August 6th 2005



1267 Comments


I had no idea damnation was a curse word? I think the asterisks look awful right in the middle of the opening paragraph. Sorry about that. Other then that, hope you enjoyed the review and please feel free to leave a comment or two.

morrissey
Moderator
August 6th 2005



1688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That was a brilliant review. Do more! You're one of the best reviewers around here so far.

I love old u2 with all my heart. Including this album.

4/5

Ace_of_Bass2112
August 6th 2005



257 Comments


U2 they'll never sell out.

Good review


masada
August 7th 2005



2733 Comments


[quote=Grateful Dead[/i]p.s. one tiny suggestion. You should highlight song titles by bolding or whatever, it helps the presentation alot.[/quote]
I think it looks rather ugly.

Bravo, John.

JohnXDoesn't
August 7th 2005



1267 Comments


I thought maybe one of you could tell me if you hava a particular way of checking for errors in your work before posting. I check and double check before hittiing the submit button, and tidy up the best I can. Yet when I read it back I see typo's here and there and flat out misspelled words. In this review I misspelled vague repeatedly. And although it looked funny at the time, I just forgot to check it before submiting. So, anyone have a method to this madness? I was thinking to let the piece sit for a bit and then come back to it, but I dunno? Any suggestions would be appreciated.This Message Edited On 08.07.05

masada
August 7th 2005



2733 Comments


I usually go back tons of times to fix my reviews. Just check once or twice, and go back if you feel that it's a really noticeable error. Maybe that's why my reviews are so bad, heh.

/ignore those sentences

morrissey
Moderator
August 7th 2005



1688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Anyway, I thought maybe one of you cam tell me if you hava a particular way of checking for errors in your work before posting. I check and double check before hittiing the submit button, and tidy up the best I can. Yet when I read it back I see typo's here and there and flat out misspelled words. In this review I misspelled vague repeatedly. And although it looked funny at the time, I just forgot to check it before submiting. So, anyone have a method to this madness? I was thinking to let the piece sit for a bit and then come back to it, but I dunno? Any suggestions would be appreciated.


When I'm writing a serious review, I type it up in microsoft word which is good for spelling errors, but then adding VBcode is a pain, and sputnik doesn't matter it any easier. I try to read it over a couple times but tons of spelling and grammatical errors get by along with some factual errors. But you can always edit later, no biggie.



JohnXDoesn't
August 7th 2005



1267 Comments


Thank you both for you're input. I think the Word idea is good, as I've been using notepad. And something vague, I suppose checking and re-checking is as good a way as any.

Oh, and I found the edit review feature right after posting up. That will help a ton. I'm off the check my other reviews now. :p

Thanks once again. And thank you for your kind commnets on my review.This Message Edited On 08.07.05

Dragon_Prince
August 7th 2005



272 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Very good review of a great album Keep on writing reviews

album gets 4/5 from me

Two-Headed Boy
October 30th 2005



4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is my favorite u2 album because... it's more... i dunno better? excellent review and keep it up!

stephankirstein
December 26th 2005



20 Comments


oooooooh classic.....
nice review....
3rd best u2 album, if not second best....
joshua tree is my fav album of alltime...

ForWhatItsWorth
March 22nd 2006



97 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

my favorite u2 album!

review is good....i dont know... a bit long maybe....i like more "to the point" stuff.... but good review anyways. it was interesting!

Pint of stella
March 25th 2006



57 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great U2 album, great review

Jawaharal
May 31st 2006



1832 Comments


Sunday Bloody Sunday is just such an amazing song. I love the drum intro, the guitars are just perfect, and Bono's crys are just astounding.

metallicaman8
May 31st 2006



4677 Comments


I'm not a big U2 fan. But Bono is a good guy. Trying to get to USA to forgive foreign debts and all that jazz.

Patrick
June 2nd 2006



1891 Comments


what the f***? U2 never smoke grass and got laid! The only one who ever did drugs was adam.

JohnXDoesn't
June 3rd 2006



1267 Comments


That's what I said. "a bass player who liked to smoke grass and get laid"....I know the history of the band enough to know this. Otherwise I would not have included it. He was the partier in the band and the only one who did not subscribe to their clean living, christian ways at the beginning. And in fact got busted for possesion of weed with intent to distribute some years later, etc, etc...All water under the bridge, as they say....This Message Edited On 06.03.06

RandyfromPennywise
July 20th 2006



752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I actually think this is not bad at all JXD, are you really that unhappy with it?

Patrick
July 20th 2006



1891 Comments


sorry bout that i just misread it

Two-Headed Boy
July 20th 2006



4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

originally posted by Naive Nelly:
U2 they'll never sell out.

:rolleyes:



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