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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

War

U2

1983

Buy At Rough Trade
War
Album Summary

War is the third studio album by Irish rock band U2. It was produced by Steve Lillywhite, and was released on 28 February 1983 on Island Records. The album is regarded as U2's first overtly political album, in part because of songs like "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "New Year's Day", as well as the title, which stems from the band's perception of the world at the time; lead vocalist Bono stated that "war seemed to be the motif for 1982." U2 recorded the album from September–November 1982 at Windmill Lane Studios with Lillywhite producing, the group's third consecutive album made at the studio with the producer. While the central themes of U2's previous albums Boy and October were adolescence and spirituality, respectively, War focused on both the physical aspects of warfare, and the emotional after-effects. Musically, it is also harsher than the band's previous releases. The album has been described as the record where the band "turned pacifism itself into a crusade." War was a commercial success, knocking Michael Jackson's Thriller from the top of the UK charts to become U2's first number-one album there. In the United States, it reached number 12 and became the band's first album certified gold. War received generally favourable reviews, although some British journalists criticised it. The band supported the album with the War Tour through the end of 1983. In 2012, the album was ranked 223rd on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". In 2008, a remastered edition of War was released.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.49

Votes

12065

Genres

  • Rock

Reviews

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Sat Apr 22 2023
3

Really encapsulates the frustration of a Sunday.

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Tue Apr 18 2023
5

Not really usual to release a masterpiece with your third record. Even more uncommon is producing after that another four masterpieces in a row, each of them better than the last one. That's how you become an iconic band for the ages I guess

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Wed Jun 14 2023
5

Oh dear am I developing a soft spot for U2🤢

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Tue May 23 2023
5

There was a time when believing THIS was the best U2 album was a hill I wanted to die on. This was before I knew the band members had names like Bono or The Edge. Before I realized that U2 was a thinly disguised Christian Rock band. And maybe the fact that this one seems to lean more towards the political scope of things made all the difference. But the truth is, I didn't bother to pay much attention to the lyrics back when this album wowed me (although I did enjoy the song about prostitution, this band is always better when they're not trying to save the world). What I was drawn to really - and still am - were Larry Mullen Jr's drums. Those still stand out, even more than whatever The Edge is trying to do. No matter what Bono wants to sing about, it's Mullen and The Edge who remind us that this is a rock band. There isn't one skippable song here. So yeah, I still ride hard for this album. It still reminds me of just being able to put on an album and listen to it completely without thinking about the personalities of the band members who wrote and recorded the songs. Mostly it reminds me that sometimes we're better off not knowing everything about our heroes. That I didn't always believe Bono was a jackass (I didn't mind him going all MacPhisto during the Zoo TV tour, it was when he discovered SnapChat filters during a concert in 2018 that seemed a little too creepy to me). It's interesting that what finally made U2 jump the shark was giving every iTunes customer a free copy of their new album (people forget, it's not like you had to have the album, it was just there in your iTunes library available to download for free if you really wanted it). Maybe U2 just hung around too long as Bono continued to think he had all of the answers and believed he was the chosen one. But damn if this album doesn't still slap. It's my second favorite U2 album behind Achtung Baby.

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Mon Feb 19 2024
4

i remember listening to this on broken headphones, plugged into my walkman, in the garage, when i was 16, trying to cut weight for a high school wrestling meet weigh-in the next morning. it’s amazing how particular music instantly bonds to memories like that.

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Thu May 11 2023
5

This album was U2 at its creative best, taking on important social messages and driving a creative original sound. The first three songs are as good an opening threesome as on any album on the 1001. The originality on this album was repackaged ad nauseam in their albums that followed. They made a shit-whack of money from this album but that amount is trivial compared to the amounts they made from their subsequent unoriginal albums. Bono now hangs out with the world's elites at Davos. Did I forget to mention that I was impressed? This album is so good that it makes it a glaring testament to how far they have fallen.

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Thu May 11 2023
4

U2 were at their peak at this time, with Edge’s scratchy guitar upfront, which reminds me a bit of Andy Gill of Gang of 4 at times. Even a song like “2 Hearts”, which I remember as a smooth radio hit, sounds “Edgy”. “New Years Day” is my favorite U2 song with its haunting piano and rhythm guitar throughout. Many of the supporting songs, like “Seconds” or “The Refugee” are strong, with decent hooks and instrumentation. “40” points us in the direction of the adult stadium rock around the corner.

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Mon Apr 24 2023
5

I’d only heard Bloody Sunday before but I this album was great. I was initially going to give it a 4 as I didn’t like Bono’s vocals on a few tracks but it grew on me as I gave it a few more listens. I really enjoyed the drum and guitar sounds and I’m exited to hear more U2 on this list.

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Mon May 22 2023
5

Torn between 4 and 5 on this one, only because a few tracks don't live up to the lofty heights of tracks like "New Year's Day" and "Two Hearts Beat as One". Maybe that's unfair? Bono's voice is at its insistent, pleading peak, and the instrumentals have a level of craft and production that make them timeless despite losing a bit of their punk edge. They've evolved a lot since then, and they had to, but I kind of miss this version of the band.

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Thu May 25 2023
5

U2 is my favorite band! I know the lyrics to every song.

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Wed May 17 2023
5

At the time of War’s release, U2 were still being placed under the post-punk banner. That was fitting for albums like Boy, but with War, the band was already reaching for something grander. U2 were becoming a protest band, maybe even a spiritual band, and with that maturity and growing acclaim came a bolder sound. Despite being unhappy with the reception from October, the band stood by their punk influences, but U2 aren’t known today for their restraint. That journey began with this album, which sees them experimenting with all kinds of new ideas. Whether it be the background vocalists present on songs like Surrender or Red Light, or a violin carrying the rhythm on Sunday Bloody Sunday, U2 simply wanted more. Bono’s lyrics were also getting better, trading out feelings of youthful vigor in favor of more worldly visions, which suited his impassioned singing style even better than it did for tales of boyhood. The first half is stacked with fan favorites and live staples, with New Year’s Day being the album highlight, a sign of what the band would be capable of in following albums. Even with their turn toward anthems, Side A ends with Drowning Man, a song that still feels unique in the band’s catalog, and one of my favorite vocal performances from Bono ever. That said, Side B is why I keep returning to the album year after year. Surrender and Two Hearts Beat as One are some of their most underrated material, ending with “40”, a somber finale that went on to close out their live shows for years and years. If there’s a misstep, it’s maybe The Refugee, which feels a little unfinished in comparison to some of the other tracks on here. Even that’s easy to forgive thanks to Larry Mullen’s thundering drumming. U2 is a fun band to track because you can really see their progression from album to album, and this was where that trend really first showed itself. A personal favorite, and a must listen.

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Tue Oct 03 2023
3

Like REM, I don’t really have a problem with what U2 was, it’s what they became that doesn’t work for me. This is a good rock record.

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Mon Apr 15 2024
3

Turns out I own this, although barely know it. The last post-punk one before they merged with Eno/UNESCO, with a sound somewhere between Echo And The Bunnymen and The Psychedelic Furs. The live "Under A Blood Red Sky" captures this era well if you're interested. New Years Day is great, much of the rest could be anyone of that period

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Tue Apr 16 2024
3

it's okay, gets boring quickly

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Fri Apr 26 2024
3

This album has Sunday Bloody Sunday and New Year's Day which are excellent songs. The other songs on the album are fine, but mostly forgettable. As a result, I'd listen to those songs separately from the album for the most part.

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Fri May 03 2024
2

I’ve always thought U2 was an overly self serious band who people who don’t really like music say is their favourite band. This album didn’t do anything to disabuse me of that opinion, but I can’t say I hated it. I haven’t totally closed my mind to the possibility that I might like one of U2s albums but it’s not this one. 2.3

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Sat May 06 2023
5

1st listen (I think), though I’ve heard several tracks from this many a time. Most Irish-ish sounding album from U2 I’ve heard, especially in “Sunday Bloody Sunday” & “Drowning Man”. While Joshua Tree is probably #1 for me, Bono’s vocals in this album might be unparalleled (among U2 albums I mean, don’t get excited) Also loved the “How long to sing this song?” callback to “Sunday Bloody Sunday” in the final track. HL: “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, “New Year’s Day”, “Like a Song…”, “The Refugee”, “40”

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Tue May 16 2023
5

Raw and powerful. This was U2 before Bono got a little too preachy and full of himself. This is an important chapter in the soundtrack of my life.

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Wed May 17 2023
5

This was my favorite U2 record throughout my angstier years, and while time, maturation, and perspective have led to its ranking being bumped down one peg, it'll always hold a special place in my (still quite angsty) heart.

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Sun Jun 11 2023
5

5 stars. When they were a great band.

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Tue Jun 27 2023
5

Under a blood red sky A crowd has gathered in black and white Arms entwined, the chosen few The newspapers says Say it's true And we can break through Though torn in two We can be one I will begin again Good album. Not one skippable track, and you could put it on repeat for a week and not ever get tired of New Years Day. 5/5

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Sun Aug 20 2023
5

U2 War A month or so ago I officially declared that - had displaced The Joshua Tree as my favorite U2 album. It appears its reign was destined to be short. My college roommate listened to U2’s War album a lot so I felt like I knew what to expect. Today when I listened I was blown away at the youthful exuberance, the incredible talent and the strong Irish influences! Bono’s passion! That drummer mesmerizes me! Has Two Hearts always been this fucking perfect?! Could there be a more perfect way to end the album than the gorgeous 40? Yeah I remembered the hits but I guess I had become an apathetic listener. This album brought those songs back to life in a way that i had not expected. War is really special and today’s listen makes me love U2 all over again. My indisputable favorite!

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Thu Aug 24 2023
5

Still holds its power. Three all-time, first rank cuts – "Bloody Sunday," "New Years' Day," "Two Hearts" – in three distinct registers (rousing martial anthem; contemplative mid-paced rocker; ebullient pop love song), plus the psalmically prayerful (maybe one means prayerfully psalmic) spiritual "40," which is one of a kind, and sacralized one's attachment to this record and this band at the time and remains quite capable of moving. Anyone who saw them close a concert with this in the '80s, sending the audience out into the night singing in unison will know its power. All the other cuts are distinct and additive, most notably "Drowning Man," and "Surrender." A potential knock it that it's a record best heard in cold, grey seasons. One is tempted to ask when U2 got cynical toward us? Or is that one got cynical toward U2 first. One is content to be secret and exult with this today, recalling the purest affinities of one's musical youth. One never gets one's earliest loves, no, not when they were this passionate and authentic and near magically come to life.

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Fri Sep 22 2023
5

I’m not a big U2 fan, but this was good, bloody good!

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Thu May 11 2023
4

Before they became parodies of themselves they were a decent band

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Tue Aug 01 2023
4

U2 at their first peak, in this case post-punk, new wave.

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Sun Aug 13 2023
4

What if U2 before they became insufferable? Turns out it's pretty fuckin' good!

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Mon Apr 15 2024
4

This was one of the clutch of first CDs I ever listened to back in my early teens. Sticky Fingers - avert your eyes, Simon - August by Eric Clapton, maybe some 80’s Tina Turner, and a forgotten few others were in this bunch of exciting shiny discs heard on my dad’s big headphones. I was disappointed when I listened to this, as I only recognised the two big hits, and didn’t think the rest rocked. Three and a half decades on: this rocks. Listening to New Year’s Day brought a mini-epiphany: the guitar-hero blah-blah about The Edge has a kernel of choppy, post-punk, precision-strike truth to it. Second micro-revelation: Adam Clayton’s baselines do a lot of the heavy-lifting on the tunes. Some middling tunes could’ve been dropped for a leaner record, but I chomped through this without break.

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Fri Jun 21 2024
4

Didn't know U2 was nice like this. First track "Sunday Bloody Sunday" sounds like "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga lol. I liked this.

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Sat Jun 22 2024
4

80s U2 is the good U2. End of discussion.

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Fri Apr 26 2024
3

U2 just doesn't do it for me. There were actually some pretty good songs on this album which made it tolerable.

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Fri May 03 2024
3

2.6 A few good tunes. Looking at U2 as a whole I thought of Dave Chappelles bit “How can you care about anything when you know every goddamn thing?” Maybe if U2 did a few less protest/cause songs they wouldn't seem so preachy to me. The Edge gets his fair share of credit in the guitar world and deservingly so.

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Fri May 03 2024
3

Listening to the album is one sitting is probably a mistake. All the songs start to sound the same after a while. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "New Years Eve" are great, but the rest of the album does nothing to distinguish itself from those two, awesome songs.

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Mon May 06 2024
3

2 hearts beat as one, New years day and like a song... Really Catchy songs. rest were also pretty good. Never Really Listened to this type of music but has sparked an interest in genre.

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Thu Apr 18 2024
2

Fine. Hasn't changed my opinion of U2. A little 'thin' on production, some catchy-ish songs, but mostly water off the ducks back. Neither here nor there. Not amazing, not awful. Fine. 2/5

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Sun May 05 2024
2

Poorly timed, messily composed and badly sung. Which is a shame because the messages in the songs are really poignant. I really don't understand why people like U2...

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Tue Jul 04 2023
5

I usually saw that Joshua Tree and Achtung are 1 & 2 when it comes to U2, but War is probably as good as at least Achtung. The obvious three; Sunday Bloody Sunday, New Years Day & Two Hearts are obviously brilliant but Surrender is a really low key underrated u2 hem. Seconds is excellent and 40 is a great tune too. This has to be a Low/Mid 5. It's outstanding

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Thu Jul 06 2023
5

Such a great album - my favourite U2 album by far. Sunday Bloody Sunday makes me want to run through a wall. Adam and The Edge sound sp amazing on this disc. Can’t give it anything but the full appreciation.

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Fri Jul 07 2023
5

Ok I already thought this was my favorite U2 album but it's even better than I thought. Bass + drums are the MVP here, esp the drums. Gorramn.

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Fri Jul 14 2023
5

U2 was my favorite band for many years, and this era is just spectacular. They were one of the best post punk bands, and it's because of them I learned a bit about Irish religion & politics. Sharp songs & lyrics. Excellent. I hope we get to hear Boy & October since they feel like part of an early U2 trifecta. 5 stars.

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Mon Jul 17 2023
5

One of the greatest albums ever!!

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Thu Jul 20 2023
5

This is quintessential alternative. Bono's energy and passion raise many of these from songs into anthems. When Sunday Bloody Sunday and New Year's Day were first introduced, it was impossible to not be captivated. Beyond those two, the album is still filled with nearly all engaging tracks, ballads ("40"), more ethereal ("Drowning Man") and driving ("Like a Song", "Two Hearts"). Very enjoyable.

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Sat Jul 22 2023
5

A great album, one of U2's best. For me the stand-out tracks are "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "New Year's Day", but I also like "Drowning Man" and "40".

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Mon Jul 24 2023
5

Por Sunday Bloody Sunday un 5. no conocía más canciones.

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Tue Aug 01 2023
5

Ooooooh. 2 U2 albums in 4 days. Am (a little) too young to have been into "early" U2 - am very much the Achtung Baby / Zooropa era, but all the signs are there. Easy to say in hindsight, but this was clearly a band hitting their groove with the key elements falling into place - Larry's heavy beat, Edge jangling away........ top notch album, and they were only getting better from here.

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Fri Aug 11 2023
5

Pretty great! I liked almost every song to my Spotify playlist. “Red Light” is a cool song! The instrumentation and composition of just about every song is very deliberate and interesting (particularly the guitar riffs). I will definitely re-listen sometime! Also the album cover is very striking and memorable.

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Sun Aug 20 2023
5

Watching this band leave the stage one-by-one as a crowd of 20,000 continues to sing, "How long to sing this song," is the most religious experience I've ever had. So many layers on this record, musically and lyrically, and from guys in their early, early twenties. Babies. I love it.

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Sun Aug 20 2023
5

Excellent! The last track transported me to the Joshua Tree concert. The connection to an arena full of strangers was profound.

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Sun Aug 20 2023
5

Are the first few seconds of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "New Year's Day" iconic or what? Although I never owned this album, it is the one that introduced me to U2 and the one that I probably think of as THE iconic U2 album, even more so than Joshua Tree. Listening to it today was brilliant, and I think I appreciate it more now than I did then.

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Sun Sep 03 2023
5

Against all better judgement I loved this

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Mon Sep 11 2023
5

I listened to a lot of U2's singles as a teenager and into my twenties, but the only album of there's that I've listened to in its entirety before today was Achtung Baby, which I love. My favorite U2 songs have always been from The Unforgettable Fire through the previously mentioned Achtung Baby, but I'll also admit that I think that "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" is a banger. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this album, since the singles off this album aren't the U2 songs that I typically gravitate towards. However, getting to listen to this album at a deeper level really made me discover a new appreciation for some of U2's songs that I wasn't the biggest fan of in the past. I never realized that "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" had such a militaristic sound to it; the time signature, drums, and guitars give it a feel like a battle hymn. Ironically though, the lyrics are not militaristic, and instead issue a plea to ordinary people to take a stand in their communities and demand an end to sectarian violence. Also, I'd never really given much thought to the lyric "when fact is fiction and TV reality," but it's almost a nice bit of foreshadowing for the criticisms against media that U2 would use as a theme for their Zoo TV tour in the 90's. The thing that's really stuck with me the most after listening to this album, is the piano and guitar on "New Year's Day." The piano melody is so haunting, and it really evokes a feeling of a gray morning on January 1, when the air is cold, wet, and filled with the lingering stench and smoke of fireworks. The scratching, distorted guitar manages to heighten the beauty of the piano's melody, but also further deepen the sense of unease. Lyrically, I think this song points out that even though New Year's Day is a day that's supposed to symbolize rebirth and hope, it can actually be kind of crummy, as it means the end of the holiday season, and a return to life's regular routines. On a grander scale, even though the calendar starts anew, the same wars still wage, and multiple injustices inflict suffering on countless people. SInce I spent so much time writing about those two songs, I'll briefly mention a couple of other songs that I really liked: I loved the bass line on "Seconds," and the message about how quickly and on a grand scale that life can be snuffed out in our modern world. "Two Hearts Beat As One" was fantastic as well, with it's powerful chorus and great guitar playing. Overall, this was a fantastic album, and it gave me a new appreciation for this era of U2's music, which before now was not really my taste. I loved the political and social messages in the lyrics, and the instrumentation is great, as U2 starts to shift away from their earlier post-punk sound, and more towards their very own unique brand of "pop arena rock" that they've built a solid career on.

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Mon Sep 18 2023
5

Despite featuring Bono, it is still very good. I didn't want to like it, but couldn't help myself.

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Tue Sep 19 2023
5

Die jaren 80 U2 sound is echt zo te gek! Toen ze nog echt passie in hun muziek gooide en Bono er nog niet als Clown Bassie uitzag. Geweldig album!

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Tue Sep 19 2023
5

For a period U2 were sensational. They showed promise on their first two albums, with tracks like I Will Follow, Electric Co., Gloria. On War the quality was at another level, there isn’t a poor song to be found. I remember hearing New Years Day for the first time, it floored me and I became a massive fan. This was rock music, but it was different, yes it had some clear influences but the sound was so fresh, urgent and passionate and their star was on the rise.

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Sat Sep 23 2023
5

I love U2’s early stuff. Their debut is a desert island record for me. Great songs on this one. Some that I had been tired of due to severe overplay on MS radio but nice to listen to the whole thing with a fresh ear

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Mon Sep 25 2023
5

So many gems! Easy 5 from me.

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Mon Sep 25 2023
5

This one has been the most my style so far. I love the vocals, and the guitar, the whole vibe is great. I've listened to it at least 3-4 times

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Thu Oct 05 2023
5

I have never taking the time to listen to U2 and I am so sorry I haven’t. favorite listen so far.

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Fri Oct 06 2023
5

excellent, better than I remember it being!

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Mon Oct 09 2023
5

I didn’t know I was a U2 fan, but this album changed my mind!

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Fri Oct 13 2023
5

Forgot how powerful this album is. Nothing else sounded quite like it when it came out. What they did after sounds tame by comparison.

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Fri Oct 13 2023
5

This album is from 1983, yet it still feels contextually appropriate.

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Sat Oct 21 2023
5

I LOVED IT, bloody sunday and two hearts bleed as one

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Mon Oct 23 2023
5

It's always nice to revisit an album i listened to so much when i was younger. I think that with age i have come to experience music differently, nonetheless i still enjoy this album very much. Bono's voice will always be iconic to me.

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Tue Oct 24 2023
5

My discovery of how much I enjoy U2 is one of the more unexpected byproducts of this exercise so far. This is, once again, a complete album with great songs, songwriting, arrangements, etc. Hats off to them for exceeding expectations again. Favorite track: Like a Song...

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Tue Oct 24 2023
5

meg kell hallgatnom mégegyszer nem tudom miért nem hallgattam eddig U2-t

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Tue Oct 24 2023
5

I’m 13 again, the year this album came out. Hiding from my chaotic home life at a friend’s house, listening to this album on repeat.

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Tue Oct 24 2023
5

Jeg er ked af at annoncere at den rocks 🤷 lyder pisse godt

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Sun Oct 29 2023
5

When I was a young man and first heard "War" I didn't know what I was listening to and even being educated by but I knew I loved it. As an older man, I still find meaning in these songs that are delivered with such devotion and emotion. Every song feels like a live version. It's just a damn great album.

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Sat Nov 04 2023
5

I love this album so much I have it on vinyl. God Sunday Bloody Sunday, New Years Day, Two hearts beat as one, Surrender… so many amazing and important songs, songs of my late teen years. I forever thank my ex for amplifying my love for U2.

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Tue Nov 07 2023
5

A lot of people bitch about U2 and rag on them, but I am not one of those people. I grew up listening to their music, and I unabashedly like them. Their songs slap. The music is beautiful, the lyrics give you something deeper, something more profound than the average "oh baby I love you" crap a lot of other artists churn out, and they have a higher sense of self-awareness and purpose than other acts do. This album is a cornerstone of their persona as a band and it showcases the way they use music to bring attention to important socio-political issues. I like these lads, and this is one of the most important albums in their discography. It’s also the crucial creative juncture before they reached critical mass and became too formulaic. It's a good listen, I like it a lot and I recommend people take off their shitty "it's so cool to bash on U2" blinders so they can give this album an earnest listen.

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Wed Nov 08 2023
5

J'adore u2 vraiment super créatif Un genre en soi 5

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Fri Nov 10 2023
5

U2 at their best before selling out

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Fri Nov 10 2023
5

This album deserves 5 stars for Sunday bloody Sunday alone!

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Sun Nov 19 2023
5

The best early album. They all shine

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Fri Nov 24 2023
5

Album 237 of 1001 US - War Rating : 5 / 5 (Rounded Up) Favorite Tracks: Sunday Bloody Sunday / New Year's Day Great album. Not sure it is their best. I feel it is about a 4.5 on my scale but will round up. Is a fine listen, all the way through.

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Thu Nov 30 2023
5

I’m just in a good fucking mood this morning. And listening to this vehemently anti-war album on the day the news broke that the biggest fucking war criminal on the planet finally kicked it is very cathartic. I’ve also maybe had a bit too much coffee. FUCK YEAH! Rest In Piss Kissinger

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Fri Dec 01 2023
5

First time hearing this. Absolutely incredible. Honestly this could've come out any decade afterwards and still sound amazing and fresh.

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Sat Dec 02 2023
5

First of all, wow! I didn’t know this album was around since ‘83! This rock sound was 20 years ahead of time! Great listening, sounds modern, even today! Solid 5

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Mon Dec 04 2023
5

It’s been a long time. I forgot how good they used to be. This album holds up. This is why the band got famous in the first place. This deserves a comeback. It’s easily the best thing they ever did. 10/10 bangers front to back. Every song was regularly played on the radio in NYC back in the day.

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Tue Dec 05 2023
5

- Was under the assumption that U2 was a lame band but this kinda bangs - Insane guitar work - Has an 80s sound but with some great creative edge - Honestly my favorite album we've gotten in a while

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Tue Dec 05 2023
5

The cover adds at least half a star

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Tue Dec 05 2023
5

I love this album! The music is arranged so well, and I just love the U2 sound. Almost no notes.

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