The Refugee

This song’s probably most notable as being the only song from U2’s first three albums (and 32 album tracks) not to be produced by Steve Lillywhite, and it wouldn’t be insane to claim that it makes a difference. War was designed to be a tough, earthy record, but “The Refugee” in particular has a muted feel that could make it a well-recorded demo or from a punk EP in 1977. That said, it’s not there that the song really fails – what’s really the problem is that it’s a compromise, trying to sound like a singalong whilst trying to make a serious point about war displacing individuals and forcing them into desperation. Yet the song isn’t as gripping as “Two Hearts Beat As One”, which kicks off side two proper, and it doesn’t have the power of “Sunday Bloody Sunday”.

It’s all competent enough, even if no one individual stands out here, but overall the song doesn’t stand out from War either. Perhaps the one interesting point to make about it is the way it combines slight touches of Boy in its ragged enthusiasm and tinkling intro with a War-like toughness. “The Refugee” isn’t exactly an instantly skippable song, but by a similar merit, it’s hard to imagine anyone naming it as their favourite U2 song ever, or for that matter from War.

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~ by 4trak on July 6, 2008.

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