80’s Music: U2

I was waiting to do my piece on U2 as one of the final 2 days, as I think they were the second most important group of the decade.  Then I hear about how the group will be canceling their summer tour because Bono has to have back surgery.  This might be the biggest sign I have had that I’m getting old.  Anyway, U2 bridged the gap between the stadium rock stars of the 70’s, with alternative edge and substance.  They were a little different than anyone else from record number 1, Boy.  I Will Follow has a propulsive feel that is still unique.

As great as U2  is in-studio, what made them who they are is their unbelievable live shows.  I saw them on the 87 Joshua Tree and it still is one of the most memorable shows I’ve ever seen.  U2’s second record, October, is the weakest one of theirs during the decade, but here is a cool live version of I Threw a Brick Through a Window.

It was U2’s 3rd record, War, that they became worldwide sensations.  This is an amazing rock album, which features drummer Larry Mullen slamming all over it.  I have chosen Two Hearts Beat as One, as I think it’s one of the most beautiful ballads of the decade.

Growing up in a non-college town, alternative music was really alternative, as it mainly stayed underground.  That was until MTV.  U2’s Under a Blood Red Sky was the record that made me fully aware of their magnificence, as their videos from this live record were so great.  From the scenic Red Rocks, “this is not a rebel song, this is Sunday Bloody Sunday.”

The next year was when America caught up with the world on the U2 bandwagon with the release of Unforgettable Fire.  This atmospheric record had more passion to it than any rock record of the decade.  u2’s Bad is the single best live performance I’ve ever seen on TV.  Watch 12 minutes of bliss from Live Aid.

By the time their next release, Joshua Tree came out, U2 was the biggest band in the world.  While the singles off this record were good, my favorite songs were some of the ones that didn’t get radio play like Trip through your Wires, In God’s Country, and One Tree Hill.  Also from Joshua Tree came their next greatest live staple behind Bad, Bullet the Blue Sky.

The live version I picked of Bullet the Blue Sky came from their concert film, Rattle and Hum.  This soundtrack was knocked by some critics, as Bono seemed a little full of himself.  I would defend him by saying if you had just put out 3 of the top records of the decade and you were the most charismatic frontman of your time, you might deserve to feel a little self-important.  Rattle and Hum also featured some new music including the great new single, Desire.  This song always make me want to turn it up when it comes on the radio.

I wrap this up with a cool cover of Pride by John Legend.


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