Universal - Island Recording
Original Release - 1983
Vinyl Remaster Release - 2008
I was very excited to find this remastered edition of "War" because its one of my all time favorite albums, by one of my all time favorite bands: U2. This is the third studio album buy U2, following "Boy", and "October" and is probably the least abstract lyrically of the band's early years. With "War" the band has really found solid footing, and is able to present their sound and message fully, and with more clarity.
Over the years U2 has found many ways to protest the wrong they see in the world, but the strategy here is to take you by the collar and force you to listen. The album begins with arguably one of the best and most famous protest anthems in Rock & Roll history: "Sunday Bloody Sunday". Beginning with Larry Mullen Jr.'s military style drumming, displaying his famous style of extending each beat to its maximum length, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is a rallying cry against the conflict that plagued Ireland and the U.K. in the 60's and 70's. A live staple ever since, in 1983 U2 joined the ranks of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Bob Dylan as writers of the best protest anthems of the 20th Century.
With "Seconds" they take on the issue of the nuclear proliferation the world was seeing in the 60's, 70's, and 80's especially in the West. The Cold War was in full swing at this time, and such a stirring a song about nuclear holocaust would make side A one of the most important lyrically in U2's early years: "Takes a second to say goodbye/ takes a second to say goodbye/ oh, oh, oh say bye-bye/ where are you going to now?/ lightning flashes across the sky/ East to West/ do and die".
The third single off of "War" is "New Years Day" released in January of 1983. This song was written about the Polish Solidarity movement in post WWII Europe. Having spent some time in Poland and Eastern Europe in January of 2007, this song captures the feel of that place perfectly, the darkness and hopelessness of winter in this part of the world is hard to ignore. I can't imagine what it was like during the Cold War struggle for freedom and independence. Also, this is the famous desolate snow bound music video you remember: "And so we are told this is the golden age/ and gold is the reason for the wars we wage/ though I want to be with you/ be with you night and day/ nothing changes/ on New Year's Day". This track features a distinctive bass line from Adam Clayton, and The Edge on keys.
"War" features some distinct departures in sound, especially "The Refugee" which sounds unlike anything U2 had done in the past. Focusing more on rhythms especially percussion rhythms, "The Refugee" feels like it was inspired by African tribal chants: "Wa-War she's the refugee/ I see your face, I see you staring back at me/ Wa-War she is the refugee/ Her mamma say one day she's gonna live in America".
The second single off "War" was "Two Hearts Beat As One" and it also features U2 favorites like "Drowning Man", "Red Light", and the live favorite "40". This vinyl remastering process was supervised by The Edge and when compared to my 80's CD version, there is no comparison. The new stars of the album are Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton, the low end on this LP sounds great and I am thankful for the great remastering job. The presentation is great, in a heavy duty gatefold with a oversized booklet of lyrics, liner notes, and pictures. The vinyl is black, 180-Gram and looks and sounds excellent.
Album - A
Vinyl - A-