U2’s War: “It…felt like being hit on the head with a rolled-up copy of the Christian Science Monitor for forty-two minutes.”

I don’t care much for War, and Marcello explains why:

So U2 felt moved to prove they were Men. The cover star of War – Peter Rowen, who had also been the cover star of Boy some twenty-nine months earlier – was still youthful but now scowled, looked both angry and afraid, hands up behind his head as though a gun were being pointed at him. Listening to the record itself was not a dissimilar experience. It gave me a headache and felt like being hit on the head with a rolled-up copy of the Christian Science Monitor for forty-two minutes. All credit to the group for wanting to essay convincing and powerful Christian rock music without the Anita Bryant trappings in an age where it was felt smart to believe in nothing, but I felt that I was trapped in a lecture.

It also convinced me that I really didn’t like Bono very much, and he remains the chief obstacle to my appreciating U2. On nine of the ten songs of War he is perpetually in your face, frantically waving and shrieking (“Wipe your tears away,” “Take my hand,” “Hold on tightly,” “I sing it for you”). He never shuts up and never seems to listen. He is like Chris Evans or The Fast Show’s Colin Hunt, forever sandbagging the hapless listener. But then take Bono out of the equation – as occurs on “Seconds” which is largely sung by The Edge – and you have little more than a proficient Comsat Angels B-side with a few Full Metal Jacket effects sprinkled on (the military drill sample comes from a gruelling [sic] 1981 Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill documentary entitled Soldier Girls, about US Army women training in Augusta). So with U2 it’s Bono or nothing, bigness or next week’s Kid Jensen tip for the top.

2 thoughts on “U2’s War: “It…felt like being hit on the head with a rolled-up copy of the Christian Science Monitor for forty-two minutes.”

  1. Thankfully, I have never heard a note from “Boy.” Ever. I think it’s this lack of exposure to that album which keeps me free from the U2 virus. But you had better believe that I sure read enough words about it. All from the typewriters of obvious True Believers®. And then my local New Wave freebie newspaper had an interview with Bono about the time that “October” was released, and i bristled at the way that he actually flaunted his Christianity in it. I knew then, forever more, that this was not the band for me. No matter what any number of people might say about them. Even people that I might otherwise agree on any number of topics about.

    Then, thirty years later, I was watching the documentary “It Might Get Loud” which starred Jimmy Page, Jack White, And David “The Edge” Evans. I was flabbergasted by the scene where Page and White were discussing the pleasures of “Rumble” and THE EDGE HAD NEVER HEARD IT. They had to play it for him! Wow.

    “That explains a LOT,” I thought to myself.

    I thought Jack White was just a Dexter Romweber rip off, but I actually felt some small glimmers of admiration for Page, so late into this game of life, that I was shocked by this.

  2. Then, thirty years later, I was watching the documentary “It Might Get Loud” which starred Jimmy Page, Jack White, And David “The Edge” Evans. I was flabbergasted by the scene where Page and White were discussing the pleasures of “Rumble” and THE EDGE HAD NEVER HEARD IT. They had to play it for him! Wow.

    You won’t agree, but these are points in U2’s favor. The band has been clear that they didn’t grow up playing classic rock, and bless’em.

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