A Celebration

Even the diehards forget about this from time to time. Released in 1982, it was deleted after six months, and didn’t chart anywhere except Ireland (and if it hadn’t have charted in Ireland, how bad would things have been then?). It also vanished off live sets in late 1983, and is now less recognised than its frickin’ b-side. Truly, then, this must be the most obscure U2 single, or at least in the top 3.

Now, however, thanks to modern science, we can actually listen to this otherwise-sucked-into-the-ether song. It transpires that stylistically, it’s got the slightly preachy religious themes of October, and the guitar style of October, but a kind of stomping, surefooted march to it and a slightly toned-down severity to it that prefaces War. This isn’t to say that it’s a lost classic, although it’s not exactly that much more dire than, say, the also band-repudiated With a Shout (Jerusalem).

Bono sings (slightly confusingly) about believing in the third world war and the atomic bomb, as well as the usual God-related themes (the walls of Jericho falling down is the Bible story for this one), also telling us that we can go there too. Whether I want to is a different matter, and whilst it’s not quite as horrifying as the band might want us to believe, and it could possibly have gone on October. But it’s not exactly worth seeking out unless you happen to love October.

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~ by 4trak on April 16, 2008.

5 Responses to “A Celebration”

  1. This makes me want to check out October; I never have. Sounds like an unusual period for them.

  2. Hmm. Long comment here…

    The band had, before the album, joined a Christian group called Shalom; it wasn’t necessarily extremist, but it apparently preached a sternly pious and ascetic party line, so to speak. Questions then got raised over whether U2 as a rock band were compatible with Christian ideals. So there was that weird aspect to it.

    Personally, I think it’s the only real dud amongst U2’s studio albums, and it hasn’t done too well critically or commercially. As an atheist I am, admittedly, hugely biased – it’s almost bordering on Christian rock. But it also just doesn’t seem as inspired or thought-provoking as Boy.

  3. Hi, well done on starting the blog, I’m following the link from popsongs.

    I haven’t listened to October in years (I have it on cassette!), but would have to say (in response to last post) that as a teenager it was for a long time my favourite pre-Joshua Tree album. You’re an atheist, and ‘admittedly, hugely biased’; I’m a Christian, and I am too! However, I would also want to say that , while October is the album where U2 explicitly forefronted some of their Christian convictions and the question of what this might mean for being in a rock band (as you well might aged 22), they haven’t stopped asking those kinds of questions in much of their later work– it’s just that their approach has become more subtle mature, maybe both in the art of lyric writing, and also in their expression and understanding of their faith, which turns out to be a more complicated thing than it probably seemed when they were younger.

    (I use ‘their’ above, but am of course aware that B, E, A and L have had different opinions about God and rock (and many other things!) over the years.)

    Keep up the good work…

  4. Actually, milesy…possibly a better analysis. I think one of the things with October, though, is that more than any other album (War included), I feel that all subtlety was thrown away. True, it’s a positive message of sorts (praising God, etc.), but whilst the content is different, in terms of form it strikes me as being not too dissimilar to the template angsty emo bands of today; more just “God is great, etc.” instead of “I’m so depressed, etc.”.

    I think I’m vaguely heading towards a point here…

  5. I do see your point; but I couldn’t say much more until I’ve dug out the box of cassettes and found October again!

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