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U2: Great or mediocre?

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
I find it hard to understand why people find U2 so incredible after all these years and I hardly think that the Joshua Tree can compare to the real classics of rock and roll. Does U2 deserve to be called one of the greats?

I first got into U2 in 1983. Their first three albums, Boy, October, and War, and the live album Under A Blood Red Sky were phenomenal. They were so raw and had such tension and edge. At that time I said that if they kept on like that they would be as great as Led Zeppelin, and I've never said that about anyone else since.

But after that they seemed to lose it. I waited intensely for the fourth album. But other than Pride In The Name of Love, i didn't find it stunning. I felt that U2 wanted to leave behind the rawness and earthiness of what they had done before and move on to something different. That's not necessarily bad. I just don't think what they moved on to was that great. I find songs like "With Or Without You", " I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", "Desire", and "Angel of Harlem" merely OK. The song "One" was truly incredible though.

I have a theory why the Joshua Tree is so highly acclaimed. You had a lot of people in the 80s who couldn't appreciate really great, heartfelt rock like Led Zep, Jethro Tull , Bruce Springsteen or Elton John. They couldn't appreciate rock that had a real attitude whether it was sentimental like Bob Seger's Night Moves or outrageous like Van Halen or Queen. They liked stuff that was great in a way but easy to digest. Stuff like Peter Gabriel, The Cars, R.E.M. etc. I think U2 is loved because it was simple and user friendly enough in an 80s way for people to appreciate it, yet deep enough emotionally for people to still remember it. Compared to Duran Duran and Whitney Houston it is inspiring music.

Also, perhaps U2 did well not to overexpose thenselves or be greedy by touring too much and burning out their name. I haven't kept track of them, but they seemed to come and go and not mock themselves like Michael Jackson has.

[ 06-16-2002: Message edited by: spindler ]</p>
post #2 of 35
Great a decade and a half ago. Incredibly mediocre now.
post #3 of 35
I remember hearing "I Will Follow" when I was in junior high. Eventually, I saw a live clip of them playing it (either on VERY early MTV or "Night Flight" or some other music show) and just thought "wow...guitar, singer, bass and drums...nobody's doing that right now!".

That, and the fact that Edge's guitar had such a unique and cool sound and style (I ended up buying "Boy" eventually, as well as "October").

I was quite a fan of them throughout the 80's, even seeing "Rattle and Hum" four times over the course of one weekend with my friend Allison.

Sometime around "Achtung Baby", either due to THEIR new direction/sound or simply my own changing tastes, I remember becoming very indifferent to them, as I was throughout all of the 90's.

I still LIKE them, and totally respect what they've done, what they represent, etc. But, like R.E.M. and other acts who started off small and unique and eventually wind up as well-known and "everywhere, all the time", I simply got tired of seeing and hearing about them. Especially when a lot of the music I was hearing from them didn't impact, or impress, me 1/10th as much as "Gloria" or "Two Hearts Beat As One" or anything off "The Unforgettable Fire" (my favorite U2 album).

Of course, I watched them at the Super Bowl this year, because I knew it would be stirring and good TV.

In short, I'm kinda a lifelong, permanent fan...however, I'm not of the "rabid, pay anything to see them live" type.

I can take them or leave them, and don't get too keyed up one way or the other. But they'll probably always occupy a special place for me, and I'll always check them out to see what they're up to.

I think I'm just a lot different (and tougher to please/amaze) now than I was 15-20 years ago.

Hmm...aren't we all?

post #4 of 35
I first saw U2 when I was fourteen on the Unforgettable Fire tour. Simply the best arena show I've seen to this date. I saw them a couple of times on the Joshua Tree tour and then I kind of went off them. I still liked them, but I was just into different things.

I still really liked the records. I even love the Pop album. Anyway when I first heard Beautiful Day on the radio I totally cranked it and got the record as soon as it came out. I also decided to get tickets to see them and they still put on the best arena show I've ever seen. They are the only band who can make the Garden seem like CBGB's.

So for your question, I think they're great. Not too many bands I'd rank higher, certainly not Led Zeppelin anyway, but hey it's all just personal taste.
post #5 of 35
MLK is interesting though a little empty.

Beautiful Day is OK.
Mysterious Ways is OK.
With or Without You is OK.
Walk on is OK.
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For is OK.

Where the Streets Have No Name is GREAT.
Stuck in a Moment is GREAT.

I wouldn't care for them otherwise.
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post #6 of 35
Some songs are decent and many sound like fillers (to me); but having seen them live, they aren't (for me anyway) all that exciting, or challenging, or innovative to listen to. I like the distinctive and individual guitar style of The Edge. But at least they do play like a band, where the 'final result is greater than the sum of the parts', as opposed to a 'pretend band', as per solo artist with a bunch of hired guns who are only there for the check. U2...musically nowhere near the best around, but better by far than mediocre.
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Why of course the people don't want war ... But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a...
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post #7 of 35
They're OK, but nothing special.
post #8 of 35
[quote]Originally posted by EmAn:
<strong>They're OK, but nothing special.</strong><hr></blockquote>

yep, that Blink 182 blows them away


I'm a huge U2 fan. I don't think anyone can comment unless they have seen them live recently. I saw them 3 times on the last tour (Elevation). They are simply amazing. I've gone to a hell of live shows, easily over 200. They are right in the top 5.

IMO Actung Baby is one of the best albums of all time. I think that is their best. The album has a sound and a feel to it. from the first song to the last you are engulfed in it. Crank that disc up and just listen to it all the way through.

I don't think they are mediocre or just "good" at all. I think they are right up there with the Stones. Led Zeppelin was something different and they are my favorite band. But I think a comparison to the Stones is perfect.
post #9 of 35
I'm not as huge a fan as my signature would make it seem. I do think they're one of the best bands of the 80's+ era, especially when you consider longevity.

From "Pride In The Name Of Love" to "Walk On" they've had songs on the radio I like to listen to, which is a pretty rare thing.

I didn't get "Zooropa" at all, though.

:confused:

Jeff
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post #10 of 35
I wish I could simply repost all my critisisms that I have posted about this mediocre incredibly pretentious band --I mean does every video have to be in grainy black and white with that lame leather clad bono posing like he is in existential agony--in slow motion?!?!?

they have one or two semi-original sounds: the edge (I mean come on... this guy is an adult and he is called "the edge ) doing that single and double line flat-picking sound timed along with the echo . . . and well... that's about it really . . . the rest is your basic rock band riff with a take-yourself way too seriously attitude. When they first came out they were original... in that the only other bands that were playing non-Journey/Styx style rock were Punk bands, new wave and the Greatfull Dead.

[ 06-17-2002: Message edited by: pfflam ]</p>
"They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
--George W Bush

"Narrative is what starts to happen after eight minutes
--Franklin Miller.

"Nothing...

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"They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
--George W Bush

"Narrative is what starts to happen after eight minutes
--Franklin Miller.

"Nothing...

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post #11 of 35
[quote]Originally posted by pfflam:
<strong>I wish I could simply repost all my critisisms that I have posted about this mediocre incredibly pretentious band --I mean does every video have to be in grainy black and white with that lame leather clad bono posing like he is in existential agony--in slow motion?!?!?
[ 06-17-2002: Message edited by: pfflam ]</strong><hr></blockquote>

trying to think what the last video was that fits your description.

I belive it was One way back in 92 I think.

If you're going to be critical at least make some sense
post #12 of 35
[quote]trying to think what the last video was that fits your description.

I belive it was One way back in 92 I think.

If you're going to be critical at least make some sense <hr></blockquote> well... so I havn't watched a music video in years . . . i'm sure that they havn't all of a sudden started getting whimsical and clever . . . maybe they make videos in color now . . but I'll bet a dollar that bono still prances around with a pained serious 'weight-of-the world' look on his face . . .

I might be wrong about the videos but why does my criticism not make sense? It seems pretty understandable to me... you might not agree... but that doesn't mean I'm not making sense...
"They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
--George W Bush

"Narrative is what starts to happen after eight minutes
--Franklin Miller.

"Nothing...

Reply
"They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
--George W Bush

"Narrative is what starts to happen after eight minutes
--Franklin Miller.

"Nothing...

Reply
post #13 of 35
I tend to agree with Outsider. They were much more innovative and interesting 10-15 years ago. Overall though, I definitely think they're one of the greatest rock bands to come along in the last 25 years. Their longevity more or less proves it.

I think 20 years from now, we'll look back on Rush, U2, The Police, Pearl Jam and a (very) few others as the Zeppelin and Floyd's of their day - figuratively speaking, not musically).
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post #14 of 35
Rush?!??? <img src="graemlins/lol.gif" border="0" alt="[Laughing]" /> <img src="graemlins/lol.gif" border="0" alt="[Laughing]" /> <img src="graemlins/lol.gif" border="0" alt="[Laughing]" /> :eek: :eek: <img src="graemlins/lol.gif" border="0" alt="[Laughing]" /> LOL LOL LOL!!!!!!! heeheehee <img src="graemlins/surprised.gif" border="0" alt="[Surprised]" />
"They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
--George W Bush

"Narrative is what starts to happen after eight minutes
--Franklin Miller.

"Nothing...

Reply
"They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
--George W Bush

"Narrative is what starts to happen after eight minutes
--Franklin Miller.

"Nothing...

Reply
post #15 of 35
Hey, Rush is one of those bands - you either love em or hate em. But you cannot deny their longevity / record sales / that they've written some incredible rock-n-roll (even if Geddy Lee's voice is annoying as all hell).

[ 06-17-2002: Message edited by: Moogs ]</p>
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post #16 of 35
pfflam: You should've seen the "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of" video. It's set in a football game between the Lemons and Flies (wasn't it?)

Bono was sitting reading a magazine and Edge falls down carrying condiments. It's pretty funny!

Jeff
What are you up to, Norm?

My ideal weight if I were 11 feet tall.
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What are you up to, Norm?

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post #17 of 35
I can certainly appreciate Rush's musicianship, but they TOTALLY represent the exact type of music I simply can't buy into or get excited about, no matter how hard I try or am "supposed" to, as a "dude".



I know Peart is supposed to be the **** and all, but at some point that type of music just goes WAY over and beyond me. I can never find the beat!

I always dug the sound and movement of Geddy's bass playing, but THAT VOICE!

:eek:

Everytime I think of Rush, I think of two things: this total blow-out I knew in high school who WORSHIPPED them. Secondly, there's a hilarious David Spade routine I heard him do one time where he's talking about smoking pot with a buddy in high school, and being joined by the buddy's mom, and she's singing along to their Rush records and thinking she "sounds just like him...check it out...".

post #18 of 35
ATYCLB is a great album. Critically speaking, it won 7 or 8 Grammy Awards and sold millions. The songs combined with the Elevation tour propelled U2 to #1 Tour of the year (as measured in millions of dollars earned) and #1 Most Money Earned in 2002.

I love U2. They are truly great.
post #19 of 35
Once great, and ever since that Zoo crap just absurd.

- T.I.
post #20 of 35
I've seen U2 live 5 times and they are by far the best live band I've ever seen, I think they were about the only '80's band who made any sort of successful transition into the '90's, (Look at REM) and I totally agree with Applenut, Achtung Baby, is one of the top 5 albums of the 90's. I dont think the songwriting is as good these days but i guess they dont have any pressure to succed any more. I meet Bono when U2 were on tour in NZ in 1992 and I asked him "where to from here?" He said he just didnt know, that he felt like Achtung was the end of the line.... 8 months later they came out with Zooropa. I think they have done everything they wanted to in the music biz but have a contract to forfill etc, etc. I didnt like ATYCLB as much as earlier albums, but its still 10 times better then most of the crap in the charts these days, esp. here in the UK
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post #21 of 35
[quote]Originally posted by applenut:
[QB]

yep, that Blink 182 blows them away
/QB]<hr></blockquote>

Nah, maybe Green Day does though
post #22 of 35
[quote]Originally posted by pfflam:
<strong> well... so I havn't watched a music video in years . . . i'm sure that they havn't all of a sudden started getting whimsical and clever . . . maybe they make videos in color now . . but I'll bet a dollar that bono still prances around with a pained serious 'weight-of-the world' look on his face . . .

I might be wrong about the videos but why does my criticism not make sense? It seems pretty understandable to me... you might not agree... but that doesn't mean I'm not making sense...</strong><hr></blockquote>

because you can't even get your facts staright.

The last black and white video was One. They have maybe a handful of videos that are in black and white and they are all 12+ years old.

Elevation and Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out of both had very extreme looks to what you describe.
post #23 of 35
It's all about "New Year's Day"
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post #24 of 35
[quote]Originally posted by groverat:
<strong>It's all about "New Year's Day"</strong><hr></blockquote>

Hah! One of the very first non-Beatle songs I learned - note-for-note and all the way through - on guitar and bass! I thought I was the stuff. The others were "White Wedding" and "Planet Earth". I was in that early MTV thing, and I had a distortion AND a delay pedal, so...

post #25 of 35
[quote]Originally posted by pscates:
<strong>
and I had a distortion AND a delay pedal, so...

</strong><hr></blockquote>

THE killer combo for the budding guitar player. I knew I had the SOUND when I plugged in my Boss Delay (the red one), my phaser, and cranked up my Randall combo amp (way back in 1985) and played "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" (probably the Guiness Book record holder for most apostrophes in a song title) with my brother screaming the vocals over his 18 piece fiberglass CB700 drums (including Paiste Rude ride cymbal, ala Def Leppard). We were in a band called Detour. We thought we were so cool.

Anyway, I'm in the U2 was awesome now mediocre camp. However, they probably will be looked on as one of the great bands of the period. I mean, who else is there, really, especially considering their staying power. I think part of what people are complaining about when their judgment is "mediocre", sub silentio, is that they aren't as innovative as they were for the first, say, 4 albums. But who ever has kept up that level of innovation in popular music (at least in rock)? The beatles, zappa, MAYBE floyd (although I have always despised them), Zep, and some others that I can't remember right now.
I think the real innovators in popular music are bands like Radiohead (even though I don't get it one bit).
Just my .02
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post #26 of 35
If you didn't like ATYCLB, beware. Because U2's next album harnesses that same sound. When does it come out? Any word?
post #27 of 35
[quote] from Applenut:
because you can't even get your facts staright.

The last black and white video was One. They have maybe a handful of videos that are in black and white and they are all 12+ years old. <hr></blockquote>

facts shmacks... were talkin about a rock here... not mathematics... a band that I happen to dislike a great deal because of what I recognized in them many years ago . . . I'm sure that they have changed some but what I hear on the radio still has the same anthemic, posuer, take-themselves-too-seriously, mediocre, dressed in black leather cause they think its cool, (the "edge" -nuff said) cliched, formulaic, crowd pleasing, unoriginal, derivative, artmark, kitschy, sentimental, smarmy, hallmark card emotional, breakfast-cereal-commercial-colored sensibility, attitude and sound that I might have well been describing them today . . . their music sounds like it wants to be in slow motion and black and white . . . except for that treacley sickeningly sweet pandering to the cheapest sense of joy song 'its a beautifull day' - - whic can't help but be catchy . . .
but I guess I just don't like my emotions to be manipulated by cheap gimmicks and formulas

I will say though, that they are pretty good compared to what else is on the airwaves . . . better than that moaning, teenage angst, wallow-in-fabricated psychological/spiritual mallaise, psuedo metal that gets non-stop airplay these days.

[ 06-17-2002: Message edited by: pfflam ]</p>
"They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
--George W Bush

"Narrative is what starts to happen after eight minutes
--Franklin Miller.

"Nothing...

Reply
"They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
--George W Bush

"Narrative is what starts to happen after eight minutes
--Franklin Miller.

"Nothing...

Reply
post #28 of 35
I'd just like to take this time to say that U2 ROCKS!
post #29 of 35
U2 don't even belong in the same paragraph as Zeppelin , Queen or Van Halen.

No contest.

U2 are , were and always will be DULL.
post #30 of 35
Van Halen and Queen are great bands but they contribute kinda heavily to frontsmanship, glam rock, and other pretty useless things. <img src="graemlins/hmmm.gif" border="0" alt="[Hmmm]" /> Granted, U2 had some pretty outrageous tours in the early 90's.

I think U2's appeal in the 80's stemmed from their somewhat anti-glam rock stance. Dull? Damn you're hard to please. I wonder if Gisele would have the same effect?
post #31 of 35
[quote]Originally posted by bryan fury:
<strong>U2 don't even belong in the same paragraph as Zeppelin , Queen or Van Halen.

No contest.

U2 are , were and always will be DULL.</strong><hr></blockquote>

lol. Queen is dull. van Halen too.

keep rocking on to "We Will rock you" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" man.
post #32 of 35
U2's great but way overplayed. Nobody can hold up under the kind of heavy rotation they've recieved over the years. That's probably why I tend to gravitate towards the less popular stuff they've done. I really like Pop.

As for taking themselves too seriously, what do you expect? It kind of comes with the territory. Walk into a room and heads swivel. He's a rock star. Lot of hero worship that comes with that. I actually think Bono handles it better than most. He once jokingly described being in rock band as "four *******s in a stretch limo."

I also like the way he a least tries to say something with his music. Sometimes his reach exceeds his grasp. Other times you get a song like Walk On. What a great song. How many knew who Aung San Suu Kyi was before that song came out? It's kind of cool that ATYCLB was banned in Burma.

This'll really piss pfflam off. Bono has started a <a href="http://www.datadata.org/" target="_blank">Washington thinktank</a>. Which brings me to one more reason to like Bono. He's happy to use his unique influence to advance causes that clearly are close to his heart. He also does his homework. And he'll talk to <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2001/ALLPOLITICS/06/13/bono.helms/" target="_blank">anyone</a> and everybody if it will make a difference.

[ 06-20-2002: Message edited by: spaceman_spiff ]</p>
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post #33 of 35
I would be in the "play U2 more" camp. Release "When I look at the world" and "New York!"
post #34 of 35
U2 are THE biggest rock band on the planet!
No question about that! Awards? Sh*t loads of 'em!
They also play the best live concerts you are ever likely to see not just great tunes but an awsome stage show as well.
Yes, I know Bono is a bit OTT and political at times, but you can't fault his charity work - he does more for third world countries than any of those fat assed politicians ever will.
My sis met Bono and his wife Ali in Dublin a year or so ago while Christmas shopping and she reckons he is very charming and a totally down to earth person.
By the way..."Joshua tree" is a classic album!
post #35 of 35
Guys, go to U2.com for the latest on their upcoming album, they have a quicktime video sample of an upcoming single: "The Hands That Built America." Classic low-key U2 song.
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