“October” by U2 - album review

TJR says

I never realised it at the time, but the second U2 long player was a bit of a spiritual affair, rejoicing in the name of the lord. They remain: Bono (lead vocals), The Edge (guitar, piano, backing vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar) and Larry Mullen Jr. (drums), although they came very close to calling it quits. Post-Boy, Bono, The Edge and Larry had joined a religious group called the Shalom Fellowship. The three spent some time holed up in a caravan by the beach, fasting, praying and reading the Bible. Fellowship members put pressure on the young musicians, barely out of their teens, to give up the Rock n Roll and to give their life to God. In the end, it was manager Paul McGuinness who prevented the group from breaking up, addressing the situation with a healthy mix of humour and pragmatism: “Jesus told you to do this, did he? I've made contractual commitments on U2's behalf and God doesn't believe in breaking contracts. If you really want to teach the world, make the world a better place and all that, much better to do it from a position of strength, rather than from sitting in a basement in Dublin talking about it.

And so it came to be that, in July, 1981, U2 reconvened once again at Dublin’s Windmill Lane Studios to get back to work with Steve Lillywhite. Unsurprisingly, the album was informed by many of the spiritual themes explored as members of the Shalom Fellowship. Two singles were released in the lead-up, both breaking into the UK charts for the first time; “Fire” (#4 IRE & #35 UK) was followed by “Gloria” (#10 IRE & #53 UK). “Gloria in te domine, Gloria exultate, Oh Lord, if I had anything, Anything at all, I'd give it to you”. It's a good tune, even if I'll never be impressed by such religious overtones. “Rejoice” features on side one and the word is repeated elsewhere, notably on the simple yet gorgeous “Scarlet”, my favourite track on the album. Psalm 46 is referenced in the title-track. As producer Lillywhite recalled: “These strange people would come in, and they would go off for some sort of meetings. There were certainly Bibles in the studio. This was the only time ever, really, the only album where… it was really prevalent. The faith side of their life on this album was up front.

Almost as if heeding the advise of the group's manager, Bonospeak emerged in the wake of the album's release: “October, it’s an image… I think we’ve been through the ’60s, you know, and we’ve been through a time where things were in full bloom. We had fridges and cars, we sent people to the moon and everybody thought how great mankind was. And now, as you go through the ’70s and through the ’80s, it’s a colder time of year. And it’s after the harvest, the trees are stripped bare and you can see things. We’ve finally realized, now, maybe we weren’t so smart after all, now that there’s millions of unemployed people, now that we’ve used the technology that we’ve been blessed with to build bombs for war machines, to build rockets and whatever. October is an ominous word, but it’s also quite lyrical.” You can't fault that for a message and these are good lads who make decent records; I'm glad they decided to continue.

The Jukebox Rebel
12-Oct-2008

A1 [04:14] 7.4.png U2 - Gloria (Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.) New Wave
A2 [03:30] 6.6.png U2 - I Fall Down (Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.) New Wave
A3 [04:54] 6.4.png U2 - I Threw A Brick Through A Window (Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.) Dubbeat
A4 [03:37] 6.4.png U2 - Rejoice (Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.) Post-Punk
A5 [03:51] 7.7.png U2 - Fire (Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.) New Wave
B1 [04:39] 6.5.png U2 - Tomorrow (Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.) Indie
B2 [02:21] 5.2.png U2 - October (Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.) Songwriter
B3 [04:02] 6.0.png U2 - With A Shout (Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.) New Wave
B4 [03:56] 5.8.png U2 - Stranger In A Strange Land (Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.) Indie
B5 [02:53] 7.9.png U2 - Scarlet (Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.) Moodcore
B6 [02:59] 7.3.png U2 - Is That All? (Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.) Indie




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