Does anyone dare make a list of the greatest albums of the past 25 years? If you do, you’ll either put this in the top ten or not mention it at all. It depends on whether you love U2 or hate them. It’s hard to be a big music fan and not have an extreme opinion on this band. We all know about Bono. Arrogant prick to some, arrogant prick who has done a lot for the welfare of the earth to others. You can’t deny it. You also can’t deny that this album had one seriously huge impact on pop music, propelling U2 from a good band to one of the greatest on earth.
If you bought this on vinyl back in the day, chances are you listened to the first side twice as much as the second. The three enormous hit singles that this album produced are tracks 1, 2, and 3. Where The Streets Have No Name is arguably the best song U2 ever made, and that’s one heck of a hard argument to make. The beginning of the song is Brian Eno playing an organ, and he plays it well. The Edge starts riffing on guitar followed by the rhythm section. This song has what every anthem needs, a lengthy, powerful intro. Bono’s lyrics are 100% genius. “I want to run/I want to hide/I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside.” The song was written about one of his first trips to Africa. He went there and witnessed all the poor people starving and knew that he and his money needed to do something about it. This was his response, and you must love it.
U2’s two biggest hits are next. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking for is what most people consider overrated. I can’t say that, because it’s one of my favorite songs ever. The only reason I started liking U2, other than being hooked by Vertigo, was seeing them perform this at their Hall Of Fame induction with Bruce Springsteen. I looked through my dad’s cd collection and discovered this album. The whole beat to this song is incredible. Adam Clayton is really a great bassist. The lyrics are very spiritual. It’s about how Bono wishes he could be with God but can’t, because he isn’t dead. With Or Without You, the band’s biggest hit, is a beautiful song that I’ll admit I’ve grown a little sick of. The pounding bass and squealing guitar is very recognizable. The ending is the best, with Bono’s voice taking center stage.
Other than these classics, there were quite a few tracks that went overlooked. One Tree Hill was written as a tribute to a friend of the band who died on Bono’s motorcycle while running errands for the band. Recorded, performed at his funeral, and never touched again was this song. The guitar picking is wonderful. It sounds like a happy song at the beginning but turns into a painful song about loss. Running To Stand Still is another wonderful slow song. The Edge plays piano here, and does a great job. The song is about a heroin user, something the band has written about before. “She will suffer the needle’s chill/She’s running to stand still.” The harmonica solo at the end is perfect. Red Hill Mining Town is another one of my favorites. The start and stop bass creates a cool rhythm. The chorus is spectacular is one of the catchiest things this band is capable of. “I’m hanging on/You’re all that’s left to hold on to.” And then of course, there’s Bullet The Blue Sky. I recently discovered that P.O.D. covered this. That made me laugh. Mullen’s drumming is very heavy. Bono talks instead of singing, except for the awesome chorus. This is probably the Edge’s highlight on the album. The ringing echoed guitar playing is incredible. There’s also the catchy In God’s Country, another Edge showcase.
All throughout this album you sense a lot of darkness. Or at least I do. The last two songs are the best examples. Exit begins with deep, fast bass line that sets the tone for the rest of the song. Bono sings very quietly, almost inaudible. Once the Edge comes in the song goes nuts. Larry is constantly crashing the cymbals, making this song almost metallic. Mother’s Of The Disappeared is another dark slow song. Bono quietly protests about who-knows-what as the song seems to fade away for 5 minutes. Somehow, it’s still great.
If you like U2, your life is not complete without this. I recommend to anyone, even if you hate this band you’ll still like this album. In my opinion this is the best album of the 80’s.
Where The Streets Have No Name 5.1/5
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For 5/5
With Or Without You 4.5/5
Bullet The Blue Sky 4.7/5
Running To Stand Still 5/5
Red Hill Mining Town 5/5
In God’s Country 4.4/5
Trip Through Your Wires 3/5
One Tree Hill 5/5
Mothers Of The Disappeared 4.2/5