U2 - Go To War
U2’s third studio-recorded album, again was created at Windmill Lane Studios, with Steve Lillywhite producing – but he had to be persuaded to produce this album. Looking back at the era the album was produced and released (1982/83), War was the very natural choice for the title.
Unlike ‘October’, U2 had more time to prepare and rehearse for the album, before actually laying down any tracks. They even managed to do a pre-War tour to test tracks out on a live audience before final producing and mixing was completed.
Once again, “Radar” is on the front cover, in the black and white picture, with the Words U2 and War printed in red. This was to show the change and show the lack of innocence and express fear. Does this reflect the music contained within though?
This album when it was released on 28th February 1983, it went straight in at number 1 in the UK and number 12 in the USA. So popular was this album with fans that it managed to stay in the charts three years after release. This album, though not universally loved by a number of music journalists, proves what little they know, as many fans love the album. After all, it’s the fans who count.
‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’-probably the most poignant and powerful records in the U2 repertoire- opens the album. The Edge opens it with a guitar riff, and Bono’s powerful lyrics, show it to be one of the most powerful things written about the “Bloody Sunday” uprising in Northern Ireland on 30th January 1972.
‘Seconds’ has such a hypnotic bass line from Adam, and The Edge is playing the acoustic guitar. There is a short break halfway through the song when an excerpt from the film “Soldier Girls” is played. What hits you about the lyrics is how it tells of how easy it is die, especially if a bomb were to go off.
‘New Year’s Day’ opens somewhat differently to what has gone before on other U2 songs. It opens with The Edge playing the electric piano. When released as a single in the UK, it became U2’s first top ten single. The song is in the main about The Polish Solidarity Movement’s struggle for free Trade Unions with the (then) communist Polish State. The totalitarian state had imposed martial law on the people which was lifted on New Years Day 1983. This has always been a favourite live song of the fans and has been played countless times by the band since “The War Tour ” in 1983.
The opening of ‘Drowning Man’ is beautifully quiet with its acoustic guitar, before Bono comes in with his strong and brilliant lyrical performance. Again, there have been arguments what this is about- human or possibly divine love? The song also features violins played by Steve Wickham. ‘The Refugee’ was originally a demo that U2 had recorded before they entered the studio to record War, with Bill Whelan producing. Steve Lillywhite remixed it for the inclusion on the album. This is one of three songs on the album that has never been sung live, the others being ‘Drowning Man’ and ‘Red Light’.
‘Two Hearts Beat As One’ was written by Bono while on his honeymoon and is dedicated to his wife, and soul mate, Ali. It was released as a single in March 1983 but only reached number 18. ‘Red Light’ features the trumpet of Kenny Fradley, which adds something different to the song yet it has sadly never been performed live. ‘Surrender’ features The Edge on the slide guitar. It tells the story of “Sadie” who is cracking up from all the pressure of living in the city. It has also been seen as quite allegorical in that you have to surrender your life to Christ if you are a Christian.
The album in effect, ends with Psalm 40, or lines taken from it, and was often used to end the live sets during the 1980s. The refrain was often sung by the crowd long after the band had left the stage.