1980-1984: Boy, October, and War

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Posted on Thu, 11/06/2014 - 8:17pm
by John MacMillan

Member since: Tue, 01/07/2014

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Island Records signed U2 in March 1980, and in May the band released "11 O'Clock Tick Tock" as their first international single. The band's debut album, Boy, followed in October. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, it received generally positive reviews. Although Bono's unfocused lyrics seemed improvised, they expressed a common theme: the dreams and frustrations of adolescence. The album included the band's first United States hit single, "I Will Follow". Boy's release was followed by the Boy Tour, U2's first tour of continental Europe and the United States. Despite being unpolished, these early live performances demonstrated U2's potential, as critics noted that Bono was a "charismatic" and "passionate" showman.

The band's second album, October, was released in 1981 and contained overtly spiritual themes. During the album's recording sessions, Bono and The Edge considered quitting the band due to perceived spiritual conflicts. Bono, The Edge, and Mullen had joined a Christian group in Dublin called the "Shalom Fellowship", which led them to question the relationship between the Christian faith and the rock and roll lifestyle. Bono and The Edge took time off between tours and decided to leave Shalom in favour of continuing with the band. Recording was further complicated with the theft of a briefcase containing lyrics for several working songs from backstage during the band's performance at a nightclub in Portland, Oregon. The album received mixed reviews and limited radio play. Low sales outside the UK put pressure on their contract with Island and focused the band on improvement.

Resolving their doubts of the October period, U2 released War in February 1983. A record where the band "turned pacifism itself into a crusade", War's sincerity and "rugged" guitar was intentionally at odds with the trendier synthpop of the time. The album included the politically charged "Sunday Bloody Sunday", in which Bono lyrically tried to contrast the events of Bloody Sunday with Easter Sunday. Rolling Stone magazine wrote that the song showed the band was capable of deep and meaningful songwriting. War was U2's first album to feature the photography of Anton Corbijn, who remains U2's principal photographer and has had a major influence on their vision and public image. U2's first commercial success, War debuted at number one in the UK, and its first single, "New Year's Day", was the band's first hit outside Ireland or the UK.

On the subsequent War Tour, the band performed sold-out concerts in mainland Europe and the US. The sight of Bono waving a white flag during performances of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" became the tour's iconic image. U2 recorded the Under a Blood Red Sky live album and the Live at Red Rocks concert film on tour, both of which received extensive play on the radio and MTV, expanding the band's audience and showcasing their prowess as a live act. With their record deal with Island Records coming to an end, the band signed a more lucrative extension in 1984. They negotiated the return of their copyrights (so that they owned the rights to their own songs), an increase in their royalty rate, and a general improvement in terms, at the expense of a larger initial payment.

 

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U2 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia : taken from - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U2

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