U2
Boy


4.0
excellent

Review

by RandyfromPennywise USER (34 Reviews)
July 13th, 2006 | 45 replies | 13,109 views


Release Date: 1980 | Tracklist


3 of 3 thought this review was well written

U2 - Boy (1980)

I don't profess to be a U2 aficionado but I'm reviewing U2 anyway. Boy is the début album from one of the biggest bands of the last twenty years, the 1980 release from iconic Irish Rock band U2. I believe that this is somewhere on that infamous & supercilious Rolling Stone list of the perceived 500 greatest albums of all-time (in fact I believe it is number 417 on that list).

The lead single I Will Follow gave the quartet its first taste of mainstream success, with its release preceding the album and charting well in the US. It is unashamedly the strongest track on the album providing possibly the vocal highlight. The Edge leaves his mark all over this record and he sets out his stall right from the get go, with his captivating and harmonious blend foremost on the album opener. The enigmatic percussion sounds and the dance-like beat provide the perfect base for Bono's engaging spiel of unwavering devotion, introspection and affirmation. The result is one of U2's best songs from the '80s and perhaps one of the best début-album openings ever. The strong opening is continued through onto the anxious and mysterious Twilight. Edge's guitar work is again prominent, a style which would be mimicked by a multitude of guitarists in the ensuing era, with The Living End's Chris Cheney coming to mind. The powerful feeling of Twilight gives the album some real bite and it is one of the most authoritative tracks on the album - most evident in the commanding post-chorus lick. It is truly a great opening eight minutes.

By the fourth track, the energetic yet tender Out Of Control let the fans of the day in on a secret: U2 were no one-hit-wonder - they were on to something good. Not quite an epic Rock ballad - the likes of which were to come thick and fast in the following years - this track shows the potential of these new kids on the 1980 block. The Edge's beguiling and sharp guitar hooks coalesce expertly with the solid rhythm section provided by Adam and Larry. At the core of the U2 sound is the “tightness” of the band, showcased skilfully even at such an early stage of their careers. Bono's attractive voice is supported by The Edge's remarkable ability to write complementary riffs (as opposed to pilfering the spotlight when unnecessary). The exuberance of the band - and Bono in particular - is tangible on this track and Bono's charisma is manifest.

It is this undeniable potential that is one of the most alluring elements of this album. The emotive and powerful harmonies of Stories For Boys highlight the band's undoubted song-writing capacity, while this track shapes for greater things to come. Having said that, this is a stand-out track in its own right. The boyish charm of the captivating vocal lines and the featured bass line make for one of the album highlights in a track reminiscent of Midnight Oil and even Crowded House (even though this preceded both*).

At times Boy suffers from its epoch. It is very "'80s", the cagey, dance/pop remnants of the hangover from disco raising their ugly heads on A Day Without Me. One better left back in 1980 I feel. A track that would easily fit on War or a number of later U2 releases, the rolling beat of Another Time, Another Place shows you why some more cultured music fans are justified when they say “It's all been done before” when they hear the latest Franz Ferdinand. Like much of the album, this track lacks the cutting edge so unmistakable on much of more recent U2. While a solid song with some intricate guitar work and notable band interaction, it would struggle to find a place on any greatest hits album. That is one of the predicaments of reviewing this album: when compared with later U2 this is clearly no Joshua Tree or War, but when taken in context as a début album, it is exemplary. Bono's enthusiasm is palpable and the band's potential is obvious, yet they clearly - and without fault - haven't quite fulfilled it on Boy. At times this is certainly a messy and confused offering. In sections, some of the best moments of the album, the eight minutes of An Cat Dubh just drags on too long for its own good. At the other end of the spectrum, the 97 seconds of The Ocean is a misfit of experimentation and oddity that is, again, better left alone.

The penultimate track - The Electric Co. - is yet another track which had the potential to be spectacular but failed to live up to its billing. Edge is yet again pre-eminent and the driving instrumental force. I feel that the 'break-down' or bridge of this song takes it in completely the wrong direction. Where it should be building to a powerful and heavy final chorus, it slows the tempo and takes away any feeling, leaving it flat and struggling to recapture the sentiment of the first two minutes. This track - and the album - could have really benefited from an immense and dominant climax but The Electric Co. never delivers on its promise. The renowned U2/Bono melody which brought the band such success during the '80s and '90s makes a cameo appearance in the confused Shadows And Tall Trees, but fails to override the chaos which is this disappointingly uninspiring and bland album closer.

Despite having its weak moments and some understandable hiccups, Boy is an undeniably impressive début. U2 had yet to find their direction - and perhaps niche - in 1980 but that cannot detract from some sparkling moments here. I Will Follow merited a spot on the first edition of the band's “Best of”, and rightly so. While undoubtedly swamped by many of U2's later works, Boy was where it all started, and set the wheels in motion. While the band developed and matured following this (to record some of the best music of their generation), Boy is as solid a base as could be hoped for.

On face value it is an interesting, at times outstanding Rock album. I feel obliged to give this a higher rating because it is U2, but maintaining some level of objectivity I still give this four. Although the weak moments drag it down, I feel that the exceptional moments far outweigh them and ultimately make for an undeniably successful Rock album.

-

* Although the 'Oils were around in 1980, their success (and moreover, the songs which remind me of Stories For Boys) came after Boy.



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Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
July 13th 2006



17914 Comments


U2....meh.......

Oddsen
July 13th 2006



1127 Comments


Un do way do way. Un do way do way. I will follow!

JohnXDoesn't
July 14th 2006



1247 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is a fine album. Your well written review captured it nicely. I hear this as the dreamers album. Big dreamers, sometimes clumsy, sometimes right on. And these songs of course really come to life onstage. I like this record. It was a good start.

RandyfromPennywise
July 14th 2006



752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^ Spot on there JXD. Raw and unrefined but certainly the talent was there, and - largely - it showed.

Patrick
July 14th 2006



1891 Comments


Thanks for doing this. This is probably in the top ten debuts ever.

The Sludge
July 14th 2006



2169 Comments


Wow, second featured review in a row. Good job.

morrissey
Moderator
July 14th 2006



1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This and War are my two favourite U2 records. Great stuff. "I Will Follow" is just plain :cool:

JohnXDoesn't
July 14th 2006



1247 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

My War review is just ugh. I don't like it at all. Did it early on and just meh. Hate it, really. So pennywise step up. Or Moz. Anyone? That album deserves better at sputnik. Nice featured review.

Zebra
Moderator
July 14th 2006



2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is the only U2 album that I still listen to. Whenever I hear I Will Follow I wind up listening to the whole album, and there really isn't a bad track. Great work on the review.

metallicaman8
July 14th 2006



4677 Comments


dear god, they've been around since 1980! Sh!t their old.

RandyfromPennywise
July 14th 2006



752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hey featured review, cool.

metallicaman - yes, they certainly are getting on a bit!

JXD - yeah I can have a crack at War in a bit, I'll try to get one for October up so that every album is reviewed first.

[QUOTE=morrissey]"I Will Follow" is just plain[/QUOTE]
:eek: No way!

Dimes Make Dollars
July 15th 2006



241 Comments


Great album. Some of the best production I've ever heard. Big, clear, and sharp without being polished.

morrissey
Moderator
July 15th 2006



1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

No way!

I'm not sure if you misunderstood but that was a compliment. It's a great song.

JohnXDoesn't
July 15th 2006



1247 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I listened to this album for the first time in awhile thanks to this review and it sounds somewhat better to me now. It's somewhat spare, but big sounding and bold all the while. I might have to up my rating for it. Twilight and An Cat Dubh knock me out. And I dig that "80's" sound and style of A Day Without Me. The Electric Co. also rocks my socks.

RandyfromPennywise
July 15th 2006



752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

[QUOTE=morrissey]I'm not sure if you misunderstood[/QUOTE]Ahh it appears that is exactly what I did! You meant it's just plain cool, I thought you meant it's plain, and you were cool. Haha righty-o then!

beau99
September 30th 2006



59 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

dear god, they've been around since 1980! Sh!t their old.


If you want to be technical they've been around since 1976, when they were still a cover band.



RandyfromPennywise
November 10th 2006



752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So I'm seeing this band on Thursday. I heard there is going to be 60,000 there. I Will Follow!

Patrick
November 10th 2006



1891 Comments


^you're also seeing Pearl Jam, right? That concert will own.

RandyfromPennywise
November 10th 2006



752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nah I'm not going to the Jam. Tickets are something like $120 and I can't justify paying that to see them. I mean it will be great x2 but that is a lot of money, considering I've just paid $150 for U2. If I could scam a free ticket (my mother knows some promoter guy) it would be awesome but otherwise, no. The Chili Peppers are coming in April too which I hope to go to, it's sold out but we'll see what I can do... Fair few big bands all coming at once!

Patrick
November 10th 2006



1891 Comments


That sucks that you have to pay seperately to see both bands. I might get to see my favorite band ever, RHCP, also, this march.



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