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U2 - Boy (1980)

It's hard to believe Boy was produced by mere teenagers - the album possesses a depth and full-blown musical vision that most bands struggle their entire career to approach, yet here are U2 getting everything perfect first time.

Definitely postpunk, with the band sounding more European than they'd ever sound again - I'd use the word Goth to describe the album's atmosphere if I knew that wouldn't create the wrong impression, for although it's indeed dark and mystic, the mood's not gloomy.

Playing the album back to back with Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures affirms that U2 had been listening to that album, what with the bass carrying the melody, the jaggedly minimalist guitar riffs, and an emphasis on atmosphere and melodrama. Indeed, "A Day Without Me" was reportedly inspired by Ian Curtis' suicide.

So like a lot of new bands circa 1980, U2 are minimalist here, but in their own special way - instead of three-chord punk or bouncy New Wave, they develop an intelligent sound that employs each band member to maximum effect.

Clayton plays bass very simply, but the arrangements enable him to play an integral role, propelling the beat while shading the melody at the same time. And even on lacklustre material like "Stories for Boys", the interplay within the band remains interesting.

Edge had an incredible minimalistic ringing guitar tone - he may not've played many notes, but he always picked the exact right ones, and kind of grooved off an atmospheric drone that had its roots in Arabic modulations, but wound up sounding like helicoptering bagpipes (well, it's hard to describe).

As for Bono, he shouts as if he'd spent his Catholic childhood singing nothing but Gregorian chant, but as he's singing the devil's music now he has to make some noise, but thankfully he has a good enough voice to justify his operatic intensity, though eventually his ego would get the better of his voice.

Boy leads off with "I Will Follow", it being the type of anthemic material U2 were masters at, and it ends with "Shadows and Tall Trees", some sub-Tolkien crap of the kind I generally dislike, but for some reason one day hit me as a great song. And inbetween are at least half-a-dozen classics, enough to make me overlook the silly "The Ocean" and half-developed exercises like "The Electric Co".

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise

Posted: Monday 18th Jun 2018 7:07 AM
Recent album review
Like it or not, Trance is still popular. Very popular.

Week in week out, clubs around the world are crammed to the rafters with partygoers stacking boxes in time to the doof-doof-dikker-der of a genre that refuses to grow up. Even a cursory glance at the annual DJ polls reveals that the top jocks all peddle a mix of arena-filling bosh voted for by droves of clubbers.

However, Trance has yet to be graced by an album that defines and does justice to the mass popularity of its sound. Many have tried and failed ... Tiesto, Paul van Dyk, Ferry Corsten, and Armin van Buuren have all made the effort, but none have managed to bridge the gap in a way that say, Faithless, Orbital, and Underworld have.

Housing the club bangers "Air for Life" and "Alone Tonight", Above & Beyond's Tri-State is a sterling effort, yet unfortunately does little to deviate or expand on the brief, for whilst it's a tightly produced album, it doesn't really manage to ascend beyond homage.

The referencing of bygone classics combined with its spoken-word element made the Radio 1 show a finely-crafted colourful masterpiece. But having set their own bar so high with their amazing 2004 release Essential Mix, Above & Beyond have backed themselves into a corner. "Hope" stands out as a future single, but little else raises itself from the sweeping lazer fodder.

Brilliant DJs though they are, and required listening Anjunabeats may be, Tri-State is little more than a passable debut. Still, better to be bosh than tosh.

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by Reviewer: BBC Music

Posted: Monday 18th Jun 2018 1:22 PM
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