What are your three favorite songs off the album War, and how do you feel about the album in 2018?

Sunday Bloody Sunday
20 (16.8%)
8 (6.7%)
New Year's Day
29 (24.4%)
Like a Song...
8 (6.7%)
Drowning Man
12 (10.1%)
The Refugee
4 (3.4%)
Two Hearts Beat As One
8 (6.7%)
Red Light
3 (2.5%)
15 (12.6%)
12 (10.1%)

Total Members Voted: 39

Author Topic: War: Retrospective  (Read 1266 times)

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Offline Vox

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War: Retrospective
« on: June 01, 2018, 07:45:16 AM »
This is the third part of the U2: Retrospective.  You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login 

After listening to the album now, in the present day, the main part of each post will be to vote for your three favorite songs from each album.  The next parts can be optional (well, the whole thing is “optional”), but I’ll structure my posts like this:
•   When did I first listen to that album?  What is my history with the album?   
•   How do I feel about the album when I listen to it today, versus how I’ve felt about the album in the past?

Top three songs:  “New Year’s Day,” “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” and “Seconds” 

I first heard War as I was going through U2’s back catalogue, around 1989-1990.  There was a certain level of expectation with War before I “put it on.”  I knew that it was supposed to be a big record.  At that time, aside from The Joshua Tree, this was the other huge one.     

And I enjoy War.  I wonder what it must have been like to hear the opening of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” for the first time, already being a fan of U2.  You knew right away something important was about to happen.  Something different.  Something new.  It’s the sound that many people associate in their minds as being “early U2.”  Militant drum beat.  Helicopter guitar.  Marching bass.  Political lyrics.  On War, U2 make their biggest evolutionary leap to date.  The chiming guitars are more subdued.  The production makes the band sound as if it’s in the midst of a battlefield.  Try to listen to “New Years Day” anew, without jaded, callous ears…  The icy keyboard melody…  The signature bass line…  The propulsive drumming…  The thought-provoking lyrics…  And especially, the incredible guitar work that The Edge does throughout – complete with a solo that can melt skin from your body…  Other highlights for me (always have been)… “Seconds.”  Love the pacing and the groove.  The tradeoff vocals.  I’d have no problem if The Edge had one song on each album where he takes lead vocals.  And I’ve always had a special fondness for “Like a Song.”  To me, there’s a great lyric on that tune which sums up early U2 “and we love to wear a badge, a uniform; and we love to fly a flag; but I won’t let others live in hell; as we divide against each other; and we fight amongst ourselves…”

My view of those songs and this album have been relatively unchanged since I first heard them.  I also have special spots in my heart for “Surrender” and “40.”  But my main problem with War is this – there are two songs on this album that I can quite honestly say I don’t like at all – “Red Light,” and “The Refugee.”  For me, two of U2’s worst-ever songs that bring this album down in my U2antheon.  It’s still somewhere there in the middle – the last time I ranked U2 albums, it was at #8.  Also, I think had U2 broken up after Rattle and Hum (or anytime before 2000, really), War would be held up as A Very Important Album.  In many respects, it still is.     

What I found most interesting after listening to War again for this retrospective…  Think of the subject matter is on this album.  The songs of War touch on terror attacks, nuclear disaster, a political solidarity movement, anti-war sentiment, salvation, refugees, people being united as one, temptations of the flesh, the pacifist movement, and God.  U2’s album of 1983 or of 2017?

Offline zoo adam

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Re: War: Retrospective
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2018, 02:18:53 PM »
Refugee has some funk & may have even been a hit single, if released. I enjoy it.

Red light is full of passion, guitars & even some trumpets. It's worthy of being on the album.

War is a cross between Boy & October. However it had hit singles & a big political song, SBS. That is all fine & War is full of power, passion & good songs. However they made the right choice in trying something different next.

Offline laoghaire

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Re: War: Retrospective
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2018, 08:07:28 PM »
New Year's Day
Sunday Bloody Sunday

I worked through this album in the fall of 1991, probably while waiting for Achtung Baby. I would have played it before, but I kind of studied one album at a time and the beginning of 10th grade was that time for War.

I didn't have a hard time with it but it definitely felt different from the albums I had already worked on - angry.

I just finished listening through it, and I have a new appreciation for the lyrics. Not all of them are perfect turns of phrase (some are though) but they are righteous. Bono had a very good grasp of the problems in the world at a young age, and unfortunately the lyrics are not remotely dated. In some places he preaches, in some places he says he doesn't know, and both seem right to me.

Larry takes center stage here and has an interesting signature sound.

I was unsure which songs I'd select for my top three. At this point I have the inclination to ignore the big hits because I've heard them so much. But New Year's Day sounded like such a standout I had to select that one. To my ears it's the first really polished song. Edge's solo has achieved orbit. Bono's singing is pro. Adam's bassline is classic.

I always liked The Refugee too. It's not polished but it hits a spot for me, maybe like Mofo.

Third choice was hard, maybe Seconds, maybe Drowning Man, but I ended up with the old standby Sunday Bloody Sunday. It occured to me, is this album the first time we really get to hear Edge sing?

Seconds, I love the rhythm of yhe lyrics. Like:

In an apartment in Times Square
You can assemble them anywhere

Just love the meter. Thankfully that lyric hasn't come to pass, though - only more ordinary bombs are being built in apartments, which is far bad enough.

Here are some additional great lyrics from Like a Song:

Angry words won't stop a fight
Two wrongs won't make it right
A new heart is what I need
Oh God make it bleed

Easy to dismiss as trite but it is something I am working very hard on myself. We have to come together as a people and angry words aren't achieving that. It gets difficult when it seems you are condoning values that are wrong. But finding common ground is how we can move forward. Angry words go absolutely nowhere. Somehow we have to do it in a way that isn't placating, we have to stand up for what is right, but do it with people and not against them somehow. It's really hard and confusing though because some people will just take advantage. So we must look to others.

Drowning Man is special, powerful. I'd like to know whi is I and who is You.

Red Light and Surrender have sparks of greatness but get bogged down in repetitive and thin choruses. (Like GOOYOW I guess).

I'm weird but October is my favorite of the first three, just for myself, not for recommending to others (I'd definitely choose War for that). But War is great, I love it.

Did Peter just happen to have a split lip? I've wondered that the whole time. A killer album cover, among the classics of all time.

Offline Clarky

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Re: War: Retrospective
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2018, 10:23:35 PM »
It's a reliable number 4 or 5 on my fav U2 albums of all time.

Apart from SBS and NYD - undeniable classics - Drowning Man is a haunting, passionate track that compliments the other 2 nicely. I love that trifecta.

Offline lucas.homem

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Re: War: Retrospective
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2018, 01:05:48 AM »
War is an amazing album and sometimes underappreciated by the current U2 fandom (more into their 90s or JT sound).

My favorites are Red Light (unpopular opinion, but that song has an intense groove and an amazing trumpet solo), Drowning Man and Seconds. I almost voted for Surrender instead of Seconds, but the latter has seduced me more recently.

Offline Tortuga

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Re: War: Retrospective
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2018, 08:20:23 PM »
I read somewhere once that the drowning man was Adam and the speaker is God.  I think I read it in the Eamon Dunphy book so it might be suspect.  Supposedly Adam was somewhat isolated from the other three due to the religious differences at that time.  The song was Bono trying to reach out to him to “join them”.  But who knows.

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Offline Luzita

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Re: War: Retrospective
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2018, 11:40:44 AM »
I adore this album. It is a masterpiece — no skippable songs. My favorites are:

New Years Day
Two Hearts Beat as One

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Offline hollywoodswag

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Re: War: Retrospective
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2018, 12:33:49 PM »
I liken War to an album of maturation, especially in context of its place at the culmination of the first "trilogy" of U2 albums. It's like the final breath of punk before transitioning to more ambient sounds with The Unforgettable Fire. I'd say that one can see the development of their songwriting abilities truly play out on this album, making it less a really successful "underground" record and more of a proper hit album, but I confess to not being War's biggest fan. I just feel like this album has its clunker moments, although that may be due to strength of the songs on it that are truly and genuinely amazing. I voted for New Year's Day, Surrender (one of my all-time favorites), and 40 (see Surrender) as my top three off of the album. New Year's Day has been a little bit of a grower considering I never used to like it, but the other two have been real favorites of mine since the beginning.

Offline A_Fly_On_The_Wall

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Re: War: Retrospective
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2018, 04:21:51 AM »
1. New Year’s Day
2. Like A Song...
3. Sunday Bloody Sunday

I first started listening to U2’s music in detail shortly after NLOTH was released in 2009 so had purchased the album “War” as part of wanting to get to know the band from their early beginnings.

I had heard that people had referred to this album as U2’s only true rock album so was quite pumped to hear it in full for the first time myself. I had already heard SBS and NYD previously through the radio and also on their Best of 1980-1990 album so was familiar with how good those songs were!

“New Year’s Day” has always been my favourite song from this album as I consider this track to be U2’s best from their 80’s decade. What’s not to love? Adam’s bassline is, possibly, his most recognisable and thunders throughout the track. Larry’s drum beat is relentless and powerful. Edge shows off multiple instrument skills on the guitar and piano. Bono’s voice screams through the speakers with a defiant nature when delivering the lyrics. Everyone’s a winner!

“Like A Song...” is U2’s most underrated song ever. How this doesn’t get the same love and appreciation shown for the likes of SBS, NYD and IWF I will never know as it is equally, if not better, than some of its peers. Larry’s drum beat is, in my opinion, the best he has ever laid down on record - such power and prowess from him throughout and he never lets up once. Edge and Adam are equally in tune and Bono’s vocal is, possibly, his best from the 80’s decade. Fantastic song from start to finish.

“Sunday Bloody Sunday” is simply magnificent. With one of the greatest drum intros of all time, Edge’s scratchy riff carries the song through with Bono’s harrowing lyrics delivered beautifully and Adam’s punchy bassline bouncing through the verses and chorus. It works well when played in the right live format and always is a crowd pleaser!

“War” is a true rock album, not U2’s only rock album, and is a fantastic end to their initial trio of albums. So relevant in today’s world as well with the lyrics written and the meanings of the songs within also.

Offline shineinthesummernight

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Re: War: Retrospective
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2018, 07:52:49 PM »
It's a very muscular album that showcases their anger, their passion and their testosterone overload, lol :o  Some of it has aged well, some of it comes across as a period piece from where they were coming from at that time.  Really no bad tunes on the album though.

Offline 73October

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Re: War: Retrospective
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2018, 06:10:01 AM »
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Like A Song
New Years Day

It's an album full of muscle and testosterone.  But also captures the mood at the time (35 years ago) well.  We didn't know if and when The Troubles would stop (in mainland Britain we still had more atrocities to come such as the Brighton bomb in 1984 and also the Harrods bomb in December of 1983) and tit-for-tat 'warfare' in Northern Ireland was ongoing.  We also didn't know if Reagan was going to push the button.  We also didn't know when unemployment in the UK and Ireland would be reversed, or if the state could really help those who needed welfare support.  In the middle of the album is a declaration of young love (Two Hearts Beat As One) despite all the desperation and anguish around.

In some ways things have not changed. 
The world is in seemingly political turmoil, wars and affliction (eg: refugees/migrants), people are struggling to get by (in Africa - but also in the developed world (has this really been picked up by U2 now?) where people need foodbanks and are on poor work conditions) and Bono is still declaring his love for Ali.