October (1981)


 
1. Gloria 2. I Fall Down 3. I Threw a Brick Through a Window 4. Rejoice 5. Fire 6. Tomorrow 7. October 8. With a Shout 9. Stranger in a Strange Land 10.Scarlet 11.Is That All?

 

It's very easy to look back at the first few U2 albums of the early 1980s and lump them together as being very similar. Their first 3 records had the same producer (Steve Lillywhite), and they were still unknown to the mainstream, yet I find them quite different from one and other. For this, their second release, they already sound like they're wanting to grow up and shed their bouncy dancy image. Although this is a very fine album, I'm not entirely sure, in hindsight, it was such a good thing.

You can make a very strong argument that this was one of the most political and spiritual bands of the last thirty years. That's not always an easy moniker, but U2 always managed to preach without being too preachy. All of this to say, maybe they simply couldn't hold back, even on their second album. No, its nowhere close to the heavy handedness of some of their later works, but the boys seem to be slightly pushing their spiritual side. It seems to me like the word rejoice is heard all over the place on this album (as on the killer track, Rejoice) and there seems to be a lot of religious imagery abound. What turned a lot of fans off initially, was not the religious message, but the fact that the music seemed a bit heavier, and maybe not as much fun.

Oddly enough, thirty plus years later you'll still find some that state their first record, Boy was their best album, since they never quite got over the fact that U2 seemed to grow up a tad too fast. There are several places on this album, where the music just comes across as being a bit too heavy. I never quite got I Threw a Brick Through a Window, and Scarlett seems a bit monotonous (the only word in the song is....you guessed it....."rejoice". Probably had to name it something else since there was already one of those on here).

When the guys cut loose though, they're definitely in their element, and the music does sound fresh and innocent. One just maybe wishes it could have been more frequent. The lead off track Gloria is really the only thing that seems to be familiar to some casual latter day fans, yet it truly belongs in the realms of their best material. Also in the fun and like the first album department is the glorious With a Shout, complete with many references to Jerusalem.

A great record that many seem to have forgotten. It may not be in the top 5 of the bands catalog, but its a strong record, and if its too heavy at times, you have to remember the guys were still young kids and they never sound silly or over ambitious. I guess this is what a band sounds like when they're only a few years away from conquering the world. Or something like that....

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