80’s Month: Twelve U2 Inspired Alt. Rock Bands

U2 was such a musical force that many bands during the decade took the bands cue in melding punk with classic rock.  I call this music drama rock and it continues to hold force in bands of today like The Killers, Snow Patrol, Hold Steady and Kings of Leon.  I have chosen 10 80 bands who showed their U2 influence, while still producing some interesting songs.

The Call was the closest thing the US had to a U2 band until Live came out in the 90’s.  Underrated because they didn’t have a really sexy look, the Call were a group that brought great dramatic flourishes to their songs.  I saw them open for the Psychedelic Furs in the late 80’s and they were the better band that night.  I have chosen 3 Call classics.

The next best American U2-influenced band was the BoDeans.  Wisconsin-based, the group is best known for it’s Party of 5 theme, Closer to Free, but they had plenty of other good songs and was (still is) another great live act.  Here is You Don’t Get Much and a cool live version of Idaho.

While they were as much Springsteen-influenced as U2, I had to find a place to put the great one-album wonders, David & David. Welcome to the Boomtown and Swallowed by the Cracks.

Australia’s version of U2 was the very political, Midnight Oil.  Lead singer might be the most physically intimatading front man of all-time, with his shaved head on top of his six foot eight frame. How can we dance while our world is turning—how do we sleep while our beds are burning?

Another Australian band I put in this genre is the Church.  One of the most infectious melodies of the decade was Under the Milky Way.

Canada’s U2 is the Tragically Hip, who are big stars in the great white north.  New Orleans is Sinking was their 80’s classic.

The group that seemed to echo U2 the most was the Alarm.  While many of their songs were pale imitations, Strength was good enough to be a U2 single.

In a Big Country is one of the great 80’s 120 minutes show songs.

Here’s another great one-hit 80’s wonder, Icicle Works Whisper to a Scream.

Ultravox were more like the moody, atmospheric side of U2.

Wire Train were an American band who kind of fell through the cracks of college radio, but put out some good stuff.  My favorite is Last Perfect Thing.

Let me wrap up with my favorite song U2-like song of the decade, Tom Cochrane and Red Rider’s Boy Inside the Man.  While Cochrane is more famous for Lunatic Fringe and Life is a Highway, Boy Inside the Man is a lost classic from the decade.

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One thought on “80’s Month: Twelve U2 Inspired Alt. Rock Bands

  1. I don’t really think the church belong on this list. They’ve been doing their own thing for just as long as u2, and as far as I’m concerned theyve been doing it better since around 2000. I LOVE u2 to this day but I wish they would grow a pair and make an album without worrying about being the “biggest band in the world” I don’t know if u2 is capable of making an album as good as untitled 23 at this point in time. I still love u2 but there is no comparison between the church and u2 when it comes to adventurism and risk taking. The church have left u2 in the dust in this regard

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