Thirty Year War

4 Feb 201361

'We knew there was something special there,' recalled Larry. 'We felt we'd finished the songs and done as much on the album as we could possibly do.'

Opening with Sunday Bloody Sunday and closing with "40", it was, said Bono at the time, 'A slap in the face against the snap, crackle and pop'.

 'War', the band's third studio album,  was released in February 1983. It was U2 at their most rhythmic said Adrian Thrills in the NME. 'Their sound is rooted in drummer Larry Mullen's shuddering tub-thumping and bassist Adam Clayton's bewildering percussive patterns. Guitarist the Edge is less dominant than before, the traditional solos of the axe hero superceded by intuitive excursions in tonality and harmonics that put an eerie veneer over the rock solid foundations.'

J D Considine in Rolling Stone concluded  that the songs 'stand up against anything on The Clash's London Calling in terms of sheer impact, and the fact that U2 can sweep the listener up in the same sort of enthusiastic romanticism that fuels the band's grand gestures is an impressive feat.'

Tracks like New Year's Day and Sunday Bloody Sunday  came to define the band's sound for millions and remain live standards today...  but can you remember the second single release, Two Hearts Beat As One, performed in this clip on a TV show deep in the heart of the 1980's?

What is it you love about War?  Was it a beginning or an ending for U2? How would you recommend the album to a teenage or twenty-something fan who wasn't born when it came out?  Complete the following sentence: 'If you like War by U2 you'll also like...'

Add your comments below.

If you can do clever and profound along with concise, post your review of War in less than 140 characters. We'll retweet the best from our @u2com twitter account. #U2WAR30

@u2fanlife New Year's Day + Sunday Bloody Sunday = #U2War The best phrase. Bono: "No more! No More!" #U2WAR30

@maxtsukino And they're doing the atomic bomb / Do they know where the dance comes from? #U2WAR30

@danicr1 It has something special. Something that can't be explained. Rage. Non-conformism. Love. It was an ending and a beginning for U2. #U2WAR30

You must be a logged-in member to add comments.
amazing sound
My sister-in-law had the war album . I was 14 at the time , and heard the album in another room in the house . And thought ive never heard a sound and voice like that before . IT WAS AMAZING !! Loved the boys since !!!
Drowning Man
BayAreaKen, funny enough I got married 25 years ago this year and also had Drowning played at my Wedding strange world.
falling in love
Since this time , I'm in love with U2 . They are the sound track of my life.
Michael Jackson vs. U2
There were 2 albums on constant rotation at my college at this time, MJ's "Thriller" and U2's "War". You know the rest of the story.
WAR me listen to War again and I chose the remastered version because only that way you can hear The Edge's attention to details and experimentation; from the subtle but powerful guitar inserts on New Year's Day to the heights-reaching, thirst-quenching riffs of Surrender it's a sincere, serious and none the less brilliant album !!!
"WAR" is why I fell in love with U2
"WAR" is still my favorite LP ever. I still remember hearing MTV announcing "A new group from Ireland" and "New Years Day" video played. I fell in love with U2 and especially Edge. U2 is still my favorite band and have seen every concert since, except that one. I even got my mom to love them. She's in her 70's and going to concerts with me. I miss "40" ending the concert. Everyone would still be singing it as they left the concert.
SBS & NYD did it for me.
'New Year's Day' & 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' are excellent songs but they also will always have tremendous sentimental value as the songs that introduced me to U2 (back in 1983). They are the songs that made U2 my all-time favorite band for life. I could probably say that out of all the songs they've ever recorded (& there are many that I love) those 2 songs 'mean U2' to me. 'New Year's Day' is my all-time favorite song of U2's - & always will be - & 'War' will always be my favorite album. How could I say much more than that? Hearing 'New Year's Day' will always be a positive & special experience. Same for 'SBS.' I knew how special U2 was all those years ago. Another favorite from the album is 'Drowning Man,' which I love as much today as ever. A classic is something that stands the test of time & that's what 'NYD,' 'SBS,' & the 'War' album are.
nuff said.
I've listened numerous times to War before it got remastered but after I've had the remastered experience I could fully feel The Edge's attention to detail and experimentation - the subtle but astonishing guitar insertions on New Year's Day, the Peak-Reaching guitar on Surrender-I can really say that this album got better after being remastered. Of course you made me listen to it again, now I can't stop. As I am born in 1988, although my favourite album is Achtung Baby, I'm really looking forward to a solid, proper remaster of my Rattle&Hum birth year !
The only tape I played until it broke
When I bought the audio cassette of War back in 1983, I played it every single day. The tape was unique insofar as it had the complete album on both sides. Thus, when the album ended, it flipped to the other side and played again. I played that tape non-stop for months. One day, it broke. "War" is still my favorite U2 album, but only for the intense memories I associate with it. And it contains the one U2 song I played at my wedding: Drowning Man. 30 years old? Geesh!
U2's Line in the Sand
1983 was a crucible year for popular music; Punk was dead, New Romanticism was waning and ultimately morphing into Synthpop, and New Wave was emerging.

There were records released in 1983 that would become iconic by the decade's end such as Synchronicity (The Police), and Murmur (R.E.M.), as well as solid releases from Duran Duran, The Cure, The Eurythmics, Madonna, David Bowie, Talking Heads, Billy Idol, and Culture Club that would birth some of the most beloved singles of that huge shoulder pad and large-framed glasses era. Of course, many of those same songs would now be regarded by some as vapid epic cheese. Alas...

For their part, U2 released their distinctive third album in 1983. Coming off the commercial, and somewhat artistic, disappointment that was October (1981), U2 were still hungry for the chart-topper and to live up to the promise so brilliantly displayed in their debut album, Boy (1980). The early 1980s marked the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. intervention in Lebanon, the Falklands Islands crisis, the actions against the Solidarity movement in Poland, and, of course, the ongoing "Troubles" in Northern Ireland with the corresponding IRA bombings in the U.K.

Looking out at the world U2 replied with War. Bono was quoted in Hot Press Magazine as saying "We wanted an album that would separate us from our contemporaries". And yet, although written with an anti-pop sentiment the album would ultimately be propelled by two massive pop-rock hits in "New Year's Day" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday". Of course, these songs were not the bubblegum pop of many of their peers. They were pop, for sure, but with a solid progressive rock core.

War is, in my opinion, an album with two epic songs ("Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "New Year's Day"), one really great song ("Two Hearts Beat as One") and another gem ("Drowning Man") that deserved far, far more attention than it ever received. And all U2 fans adore "40", although that is primarily concert-related, as it was the closing song for their live shows for many years. Outside of the live context "40" has nowhere near the same power, as any U2 concert bootlegger can attest, if they are being honest.

For all of its power and bombast, I never listen to War front-to-back. It certainly has a very strong A-side but it also has a rather weak B-side. "The Refugee" and "Red Light" are almost painful to hear. "Surrender" begins with promise only to be ruined by corny back-up singers and a cowbell. To my taste their oft-maligned "Christian rock" sophomore album October is a superior listening experience. Indeed, "40" sounds like a holdover from the October recording sessions.

Not to take anything away from War, its place among the albums of 1983, and its important role as a milestone in U2's development. It was an important arrival for the band but also an end-point. After the welcome release of the live mini-album Under a Blood Red Sky later in 1983, which featured songs from the War tour, U2 went away and began sowing the seeds for U2 Version 2.0. That evolution would, of course, result in The Unforgettable Fire (1984). But that's another story;
And end and a new beginning
War marked the end of the truly political U2. Not saying they're not still, but things changed with Unforgettable Fire. They matured as musicians. And then with Jotua Tree, they took over the music scene.
Like a song..
This is one of my favorites on the album, and it was a message about the violence in Ireland at that time. Don't join the violence, he could see right through it. Surrender is another song I like. I could never understand how Bono gets inside a woman's mind (also Running to Stand Still) and bring it to song.
how long to sing this song.....
what a great album, forget the commercially played regulars of sunday bloody sunday and new years day, some of their best work on this album, drowning man, red light, surrender, two hearts beat as one, 40, love it!!
First CD and Drowning Man
When I got my first CD player, U2 War was the first CD I bought to play on it. I had limited funds and I had to buy something perfect. Years later, with my love for the whole album and especially Drowning Man, I gave that CD to the parents of the baby that my significant other gave up, sending my best wishes in the form of Drowning Man to that special spirit. War will go on forever in my heart.
Drowning Man
"Rise Up Rise Up with wings like Eagles, We run, we run and don't go weary!" Take my hand..... Love these lines, the delivery, the beautiful violin, the amazing precussion, and soft acoustic guitar, really really inspiring song in the middle of all the chaos, wow.
Good Times........Good Times
This album brings back so many great memories. Not only the fact that I was a teenager but moreso that it was when I first fell in love with the music of U2. It seemed that every house party I went to U2 was playing in the background and so it becoming a lifelong FAN of the best Band in the world. Keep on rockin'
Thanks for your compliment, pain_18!
why not?
Why are my posts never published?
Great !
Great review Musicabona, I approve it !!!!
I just finished reading From The Ground Up, loved the book, amazing quotings, thanks really to all the job you all had guys, without you I wouldn't have been able to see the Claw (oops, pardon the name), in Azteca Stadium in all its glory. Favourite quote: thanks Willie Williams for saying Mexico is #2 in your list, and that Edge is an orchestra man. Still, my fav pics are the ones from Russia and Bono singing in the rain: that's love for us fans!!! Good there are songs from War like Sunday, New Year, 40 in the concerts. How long can we sing those songs?
End of the 1st Trilogy
In my opinion U2 make albums in 3's: Boy-October-War = Idealist Youth Un.Fire-Joshua-R&H = America Achtung-Zooropa-Pop = Nightlife ATYCLB-HTDAAB-NLOTH = God looking forward to the new trilogy!
any time soon?!
Music That Matters
Right from the riveting, militaristic opening beats of "Sunday Bloody Sunday", this gritty album blew me away. War showed me that music can be about what's really happening in the world as opposed to cliche' love songs and get up and dance baby songs. It can attack apathy and cruelty, illustrate what war and conflict does to people and above all, inspire people to think and maybe, just maybe change for the better.
This love will last forever
Having become a U2 fan at the age of 15 in 1989, I first heard "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by watching "Rattle And Hum" and "Under A Blood Red Sky". Back then I was mesmerized by the unbelievable power including Larry´s martial beats immediately, so I bought "War" later. Following the news, the theme of war is, sadly, still relevant-one of those reasons why this album makes us aware of the absurdity of violence again and again. From the beginning, the record builds up incredible tension, oftentimes putting an emphasis on march-like beats, with a mood changing between deep sadness, rage and love. Whereas "Boy" tends to be more abstract, "War" comes across as a very direct statement. This album never ceases to amaze me-it´s still fresh, still heart-wrenching, haunting, sometimes hard as naked steel, dark and emotional. With its epic piano intro, "New Year´s Day" combines straightforward energy with a certain atmosphere and "Surrender" is perhaps one of those early songs anticipating U2´s love for wide open soundscapes, with icy guitar notes painting surreal images. "40" closes a circle as it lets the initial energy slow down with Bono´s tender vocals. Inspired by Psalm 40, it´s a lamentation that raises an urgent question we hear on the first track: "How long to sing this song?" A passionate flame continues to burn.
New Year's Day
At the time, the best song ever recorded!
She's A Refugee
She come and dance, she come and keep you company
30 years boys..u2 still the best band ev
i love war album its simply perfect,,we miss this u2 times but still the best band ever on world,,,sunday bloody sunday,40,new years day,,and all the songs its magnificent,,,we never give up boys,,30 years to love you u2..paul portugal
two hearts beat as one
listening to this song again, it brings me back memories of when i was a young boy. i had war in a tape and every time i was going to sleep i used to put side 2 as my lullaby. those were the days........
I was still five years from beeing born, but that doesn't mean that album afected me any less! Great music, it amazing how songs released 30 years ago are still so relevant today! Only few bands can pull that off!
Newer comments    1 - 30 of 61    Older comments


19 Jul, 2024

Beautiful Day is the eighth release in this year's series of digital Deep Dives and B-Sides.

10 Jul, 2024

Cáit O'Riordan with her take on Mothers of the Disappeared.

9 Jul, 2024

 Subscribers Special
No prizes for naming this latest live cut from the Sphere.

24 Jun, 2024

 Subscribers Special
Pauli The PSM, heading out to the floor one more time...


Related Topic