Left to right: Larry Mullin, Jr.; Adam Clayton; The Edge; and Bono Vox.
When I was researching what happened in music 30 years ago, one musical event caught my eye, and I am just sorry I missed it this past spring. In February of 1983, a young band from Dublin, Northern Ireland, released an album that changed the musical landscape. Bona Vox, 'War' was released by The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullin, Jr., better known collectively as U2. It was not their first, but the third album from the band, who had established themselves as a musical force with their debut album, 'Boy', and the follow-up, 'October', both of which certified Platinum in sales in the United States, quite the accomplishment for the Irish boys. And then came 'War'.
The band soared to new heights when the album was released, with sales certified as quadruple Platinum. This established U2 as one of the premiere bands of the decade. And this was just the beginning for them. Part of the reason for the success of the album was the remarkable quality of the music. This can be shown with the three singles released from the album, setting the bar for the album. Hitting the shelves on January 1, 1983, "New Years Day" started off as a song about love, but morphed into a song that was inspired by the Polish Solidarity movement, where the Labor Unions came together to fight the bureaucratic Polish government in 1980. The strength of the unions, with leader Lech Wałęsa providing a shining beacon for much of the world. Soon the song became a rallying cry for many across the globe, the message of unity ringing clear. This is the music video for "New Year's Day".
The second single off the album was "Two Hearts Beat As One". Like the previous single, "Two Hearts Beat As One" scored well in the rock market, with heavy airplay on Rock and College radio. The the distinctive playing of Adam Clayton's bass and The Edge's guitar, the sound of U2 was firmly in place on the song. And, of course, there is Bono's spectacular vocals, always delivered with a full-throated exuberance that could not be denied. Released on March 11th, this is the music video for "Two Hearts Beat As One".
Finally, we have another track released in March of 1983, another single that scored well with the Rock and College crowds, garnering plenty of time on the airwaves. The song, another rallying cry for many people, asks the audience how long will they sit by doing nothing when so much is going on in the world that can't be considered right. Whether it is the shooting of Irish Catholics protesting the arrests and jailing of many in Northern Ireland, with no trials or evidence of wrongdoing, or other incidents where injustice is served with weapons, this song calls out for people to unite and stand against oppressive regimes. With a sound that sounds more like a military band going to battle, this is U2 with their final single off 'War', "Sunday Bloody Sunday".
For many, this was a seminal moment for bands in the 1980s. U2 went on to be the Superband of the Decade, as no album released by the band in that 10-year period sold less than triple Platinum. The sound was pure Rock, a driving and engaging sound that is distinctly their own. I remember going to see them play at Giants Stadium in September of 1987, with tickets so far away I couldn't see anything were it not for huge video screens showing us the band playing live. It was an incredible show! You can purchase 'War' from iTunes and Amazon. To learn more about U2, you can visit their official website.