The Electric Co.

If you don’t know/Electric Co.

On its own that’s quite possibly one of the daftest and nonsensical rhymes going. What the hell’s it about? Psychiatric patients undergoing electric shock therapy, apparently, although “The Electric Co.” is possibly one of the most confusingly ambiguous songs off Boy, and that’s saying a lot for an album that’s full of ambiguity, doubt and troubles. Lines like Toy, broken toy/Shout shout/You’re inside out are almost Bjork-like in their scattered and odd imagery. Such disjointedness was only heightened by live performances, which used to consist of the song being joined with “The Cry”, a predecessor to “Is That All?“, and indeed the songs are not entirely dissimilar in tone. The song then vanished after August 1987, getting no performances whatsoever in the 1990s – odd considering that it might have worn well during ZooTV. When it was revived during the Vertigo Tour though, it received all kinds of odd snippets and additions to it, anything from other old U2 songs to the Smashing Pumpkins.

The music behind it, although standard Boy fare for timbre and arrangement, does nonetheless have that slight air of jumpiness about it appropriate to the lyrics. It’s also a neat bookend to “I Will Follow” before the encore of “Shadows And Tall Trees” in its quick tempo and abstract chorus. It’s probably not as good as either of those songs, but as a song with proven flexibility and showing the kind of wayward charge the early U2 naturally possessed, it’s a very hard one to dislike.


~ by 4trak on July 4, 2008.

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