Saturday, December 20, 2008


I can't help but come back to U2 - hokey as they've become and perhaps always been - again and again. It's usually over a song or two (The mournful yet urgent Achtung Baby stand-out, "Acrobat." The murky, chilling one-two dry gulch of "Exit" and "Mothers of the Disappeared" on Joshua Tree. Then there's War's wonderful, elegiac closer, "40.") that I just have to hear over and over again. There will always be self-indulgence fueled missteps on Bono's part - no matter what. The Edge, however, just always seemed to have a way with that warm, gauzy winter guitar sound.

Nowadays I don't quite feel the same magic, and there always seems to be times when one feels compelled to keep their U2 affinity to themselves. This is not one of those times. There's a moment (2:45-3:00) in my current favorite "An Cat Dubh" that sounds like the coolest song that U2 never wrote. It's charmingly reminiscent of the best Joy Division, This Heat and Disco Inferno material. Instead of staying in this alien territory, the song resumes it's oh-oh-oh-oh-oh wordless chorus then segues sweetly "Into The Heart," which is a great song that brings to mind instrumental band Explosions in The Sky till a certain Irish yodeller:

hams his way into the heart -- of a child no less! Not sure what he's going on about here. But Boy is an album to be enjoyed for its heigtened fall colors melodicism and soft focus, roomy atmosphere. It's also got three of the band's best anthems: "Out of Control," "I Will Follow" and "Electric Co." Each one is a pleasure to blare and sing along with (you may even want to make like Kevin Bacon and Footloose and pony about). This album has aged well, I daresay. There's something odd about listening to some of the newer music influenced by this album. It's usually better, but it brings up the same emotions. There's that drama and grandeur, but it's one borne of resolution rather than letting go in a frenzy of sex crazed rock rage (though there's certainly nothing wrong with this). It's life affirming music that is somehow just as good for its proto-emo indulgences as it is bad. Hell, take off some the unnecessary synth bells and whistles and replace the vocalist with the guy from Wilderness, it would be hip to play this record.

But it is something on its own. It's an already tight band, showcasing its strengths with great aplomb and showing the root of what makes all their best subsequent songs endearing: collaboration. These guys play well together -- like em or not. They're off on some bland trip now, but one can always go back - and Boy is more than worth going back to. The follow-up was pretty good too:"Rejoice" is the best track. Doesn't Adam Clayton look so cool? He's all like, "yeah, all the lasses think I'm the guy from Tears For Fears." And Bono's all "Comes in handy, no?" and Edge is like "Of course bloody not!" Larry Mullen can only glare and wonder how much longer he'll be looking like David Gilmour.

It's the holidays and sure is cold. Me I'm gonna be keeping toasty with some hot mulled cider and one of my absolute favorite sounds on the planet:

My U2 love is officially out. I refuse to write off something that feels so right - no matter how wrong it very well may be. Everything they touch may not turn to gold, but when they touch gold its a thing of pure joy and uplift. Here's to good ol' eighties style joy and uplift! If you can feel what I'm getting at, give the early U2 another listen - emracing all flaws. You just might rediscover that inner glow. They're an easy target, so friends and family might try ruin your reverie. When it comes to that, it's hard to say it better than Bono does in "Acrobat" -- "Don't let the bastards grind you down!" And you bet our poet whoreate means it more than the person who came up with that expression ever did!

Remember that we cannot always be like Lily Taylor in Abel Ferrara's own rough diamond: The Addiction. She tried to resist, chanting "I WILL NOT SUBMIT!, I WILL NOT SUBMIT!" and flagellating her hunger. But just look how happy she was having given in:

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