U2 – War 35 Years Later

U2 – War 35 Years Later

Ireland’s unwavering, glorious sons U2 soared to mountainous ranges after the worldwide success of their critically acclaimed fifth, 1987’s The Joshua Tree. However, in fairness to the prolific, enduring, and eternally relevant Post-Punk New Wave band that was formed in 1976, in Dublin, Ireland, they did actually arrive at the international scene as early as 1985, when the charismatic Bono and the rest of U2 – The Edge (lead guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen Jr. (drums and percussion) – first performed one of their now classic anthems, “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” at the momentous benefit concert Live Aid, which took place that year at Wembley Stadium in London, England. That song started in 1983, when U2 decided to wage War and began to forge a more politically and socially conscious musical direction.

Released on Monday, February 28, 1983, through Island Records, U2’s third studio album, War, was the band’s first number-one album in the UK. It immediately opened with its killer track, “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” whose introductory emphatic, machinegun snare-drum pounding – to this day – never fails to send shivers down the spine of anyone who has followed the long career of U2. Followed next in the same scathing rhythm, albeit more relaxed beat and sentiment, was “Seconds,” whose Dance Rock sensibilities also foreshadowed what U2 explored in their ’90s phase. Then there was “New Year’s Day” – what is more dramatic and iconic than this signature tune, whose first seven-note piano melody is enough to give the song away, in sweet surrender?

“Like a Song” was U2 in their classic Post-Punk regalia – the Edge’s angular guitars, Clayton’s punchy bass lines, Mullen Jr.’s relentless poundings, and Bono’s chest-shattering vocals. U2 then turned sullen in the ensuing, beautifully orchestrated “Drowning Man,” which featured also the Edge’s shimmering, atmospheric guitars that became his trademark sound for the rest of their long, fruitful, and still ongoing career.

Another Post-Punk, percussive-driven glory came next in the form of the rockin’ stomper “The Refugee.” With the upbeat, guitar-dominated “Two Hearts Beat as One,” Bono and comrades then burst with their big, cutting-edge sound and stadium-ready predisposition. The world’s largest arenas were indeed ready for them as early as that stage.

A definitive sound of the era, the horn-adorned, Disco-glazed “Red Light” aligned U2 with the equally bombastic guitar-oriented New Wave pioneers of the time, such as Duran Duran (“The Reflex”), Big Country (“In the Big Country”), and Cactus World News (“The Bridge”). As they got near the end of their War, U2 relaxed for a bit with the sparse, jazzy, and bluesy undercurrent of the penultimate “Surrender.”

Finally, War culminated with the sing-along, slow, reflective, hopeful ballad “40,” which bore the same sonic genes as the band’s subsequent, equally great ballads like “Bad,” “With or Without You,” “All I Want Is You,” “One,” “Stay (Faraway, So Close!),” “If God Will Send His Angels,” “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own,” “Moment of Surrender,” “Song for Someone,” and “Love Is Bigger than Anything in Its Way.”

U2 has really come a long, long way from that fateful day in the humble kitchen at the home of Mullen Jr.’s family in 1976, when these zealous, ambitious, and persistent young men decided to wage a musical war against the ills of the world. They succeeded. The 35-year-old War is one of the testaments of their novel story. Revisit it as you celebrate its 35th anniversary, and discover U2 all over again!


Purchase War:

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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