Would the names Paul Hewson, or Dave Evans be synonymous with rock stardom? How about Bono (Paul), or The Edge (Dave)? I remember the first time I heard a song by their rock band U2. It was 1983 and the song was “40”. The song is a modified version of Psalm 40 in the bible. The lyrics and Psalm begin:
I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay
This song and several others that had similar biblical content created a stir and hope among the Christian community that finally a well known band would be able to take their message to the masses. I think few people knew that early on the band had some serious reservations about their new found rock and roll lifestyle and how it would mix with their Christian faith. The crusade they did take up is pacifism and social-politico as evidenced in their album “War“, released in 1983. The album was their first commercially successful album. Many folks, including me, have wondered if the members have actually trusted in Christ. They are very serious about social causes but their frontman Bono has had some serious public profanity problems that has hurt his witness for Christ. But this posting is about their music.
“No Line on the Horizon” is the twelfth studio album by U2. It was released last week, March 3rd in the U.S. It is the first studio release for U2 in over four years. The album is dedicated to Rob Partridge, who signed the band’s first record deal in 1979 and passed away in late 2008. The first song “No Line on the Horizon” is the first track and album title. It begins with a distorted rhythm guitar and a driving bass line that melds down to clean guitar and keyboard on the chorus. The song sounds like it could have fit right in with any of their last two efforts. The second track is “Magnificent” and it really is, but it is old hat for these guys. They can do this kind of stuff without even trying. I do like the quiet slide guitar in the song bridge. It tries to be a very emotional song. The third track is called “Moment of Surrender”. The song has an R&B texture with The Edge playing another nice blues slide guitar near the end. But again, is it me, or does it seem uninspired. The fourth track is “Unknown Caller” and sounds like every other good U2 song. Don’t get me wrong, I like it, but do we sometimes look too hard for the veteran bands to re-invent themselves and forget why we like their original sounds.
Album highlights include “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Crazy Tonight” with it’s more upbeat rhythm and more traditional U2 textures. “Get Your Boots” is move toward a more hard edged sound and a definite deviation from the traditional U2 song. But once again, and I’m sure it’s just me, but the song get’s way to political lyrically. “Stand Up Comedy” is probably my favorite song on the album. The song has a very nice groove thang going on and the lyrics speak of love, as the only thing that matters.
Stand up, this is comedy
The DNA lottery may have left you smart
But can you stand up to beauty, dictator of the heart
I can stand up for hope, faith, love
But while I’m getting over certainty
Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady
While this is all well and good, but doesn’t he realize that it is not in anyone’s interest to love or stand up for it unless you believe. “Breathe” is a wonderful song musically. The guitar sounds are exciting, the vocals are quick and hooky. The lyrics leave quite a bit to imagination. They are all over the place.
If you can get past the social preachiness of some of the songs and just relate to their music the album as a whole is very good. I think I like it better than their last two releases. After two complete listens I find it just as good as many of their other previous releases. But I don’t get a feeling of inspiration like I did with their work over twenty years ago. I give the album four stars out of five.
Please check out the live video for the song “Get Your Boots On”.