Tuesday, February 07, 2006

You As Well?

"U2 is the greatest band of all time"

"U2 -- best live band. Ever Period."

"U2 is the best band in the world"

"Is U2 Christian?"

Bono in running for Nobel Peace Prize, but loses

Bono: Time's Man of the Year

Opinions?

11 comments:

DugALug said...

Sadly, U2 is one of my favorite bands of all time, though they lost a lot of steam in the last decade and have dropped far from my top spot. When I was in college and in the early 90's they were tops.

In an animal-farm-esque (Orwellian?) turn of events, U2 went from being a voice of human conscience and outcry to a voice of politcal partisanship. I believe Bono's intentions have always been good, if not noble, but in many of his crusades he is like Don Quixote: attacking windmills that he thinks are fiery dragons.

When U2 was smaller, I believe their opinions struck a chord with our generation. But pride, wealth, and ego has changed their attitude from being 'a voice' to being 'the voice'. This, to me, has tainted some of my love for them.

Still Beautiful Day is an awesome song and Joshua Tree is still on my top 10 best albums of all time. I miss their energy of youthful expression. In saying this, I think U2 is exactly why I now like Cold Play so much: Cold Play has captured much of the essence and heart of what I loved about U2.

-Doug

Brett said...

I've often stated that, for serious music fans from my generation, U2 is the Beatles.
They're the greatest, most important band in the history of rock and roll.

Bands that come along after the Beatles and the Stones and Dylan get shorted in the "most important ever" race simply because they came along later. But U2 was/is a great band longer than the Beatles were. They managed to stay relevant for far longer than the Stones. Dylan as an important artist ranks (in my book - which is the one that counts) ahead of the Beatles or the Stones. I think, as a writer and an embracer and enhancer of a wide variety of styles under the banner of pop music (folk, country, rock, pop, blues, and combinations of these), Dylan is just far more influential than either the Beatles or the Rolling Stones.

But rock and roll has been better overall since punk, post punk, and the new wave and U2 is the best and most influential band in that time. The Edge, the group's real genius, is so huge a figure among guitarists that it would be hard to overstate his influence. Try to think of a post punk or modern/indie rock guitar band that has come along in the past 20 years that doesn't owe some debt to Edge. It's difficult to come up with a list of names.

U2 played the greatest live show I've ever seen. They're an unbelievable live act.

And they make great records. Even their weakest efforts contain strong, thought-provoking songs.

For my money, Wilco is the best band in the world right now. Josh Ritter is almost certainly the best singer-songwriter. But U2 is the greatest, most important band in the history of rock and roll.

And thanks. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to settle this matter once and for all.

Rich said...

I got my opinions, but I'll see if there are any other voices that want "to settle the matter for once and for all."

DugALug said...

Brett,

U2 is only a great band longer than the Beatles because they stayed together longer. Yoko saw to making the Beatles disappear.

If you take Paul, George, and John's solo efforts and add them to the Beatle collection, and you have about the same 25-30 years span of significant greatness.

George is probably the unsung hero of the fab-4. U2 continues to put out hits, but nothing like their output of the 80's and early 90's.

With patheticly, failed albums like Zooropa and Pop, it is hard to say that U2 has the 'moxie' to make music like they used to. All That You Can Leave Behind was a great step back to their roots, and I have to say kudos to them for being brave enough to recognize the error of their ways.

I haven't given How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb much of a chance, though I like the hooks I heard on the radio, but it wasn't enough to compell me to take the chance on the CD.

Personally I also think Bono is an arogant, elitist, schmuck, who needs to grow up a little.

-Doug

Brett said...

Oh, Douglas.

Doesn't staying together longer matter? Of course it does.

And if we're being honest, don't we have to say that most of the solo output of the former Beatles ranges from trite to downright embarrassing? McCartney hasn't done anything relevant since... well, probably since he wrote "Let It Be." And everyone shout out their favorite Plastic Ono Band numbers!

Pop was the low point for U2. Not a strong record. But even then the songs were full of ideas, musically and lyrically.

U2's earliest work still sounds fresh and original. Put on your warn-out copy of Boy or War some time and give another listen to "A Day Without Me" or "Two Hearts Beat as One." You still feel the excitement of a band on the verge. It's amazing stuff - raw and visceral. And U2's later, more sophisticated Eno/Lanois-produced stuff manages to sound timeless (despite the legions of imitators).

Sure, the early Beatles sides still sound raw and exciting (which is amazing after all this time - "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" has to be one of the coolest pop songs ever recorded). But the later, progressive Beatles stuff just sounds old, pretentious, and silly now. It was original once, I guess. It didn't age so well.

I suspect that your (rather harsh) opinion of Bono as a person paints your perception of U2 as a band. I think Bono is a decent guy whose heart is in the right place. Self-important? Sure. And I disagree with most of his politics on a macro level. But he's also the greatest front man in the history of rock and roll. With that, there are going to be some pretentions. Comes with the territory.

U2, REM, and the Replacements were all named "Band of the 80s" by Rolling Stone magazine (back when it still had some shred of credibility). And all three were great, deserving choices. Each one spent some time deserving the "best band in the world" crown. But only U2 has managed to stand the test of time. The Mats imploded, REM turned stale, and U2 soldiered on as a band that mattered (and matters).

One final note, because this is getting long, and this isn't my blog. Your profession of love for Coldplay reminded me of a line from The 40-Year Old Virgin (which was hilarious and vulgar and anyone that saw it probably knows where I'm heading with this). There is a recurring line of dialogue in the film, where one or another of the characters says to a buddy, "Do you know how I know you're gay?" My favorite one of these was this one: "Do you know how I know you're gay? Because you like Coldplay."

Incidentally, if Bono is an arrogant, elitist schmuck, what does that make Coldplay's Chris Martin?

DugALug said...

Brett, Brett, Brett,

"Incidentally, if Bono is an arrogant, elitist schmuck, what does that make Coldplay's Chris Martin? "

That makes Chis Martin happily married to Gweneth Poltrow. Duh!

As far as Paul, what about songs like Band on the Run, Ebony and Ivory, Live and Let Die, Listen to What the Man Said? These aren't good enough for you? You've got to be joking. Incidently, Let it Be was written when Paul was a Beatle. Also Wingspan and Chaos and Creation are both solidly good albums.

I love U2 but at the end of the day, they are just one of the best of the 3-chord wonder bands to walk the planet. As far as 3-chord wonder-bands, musically I would put The Cars up there with U2 (as Rich is grinning). There are others in the class: Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Roxette (I threw this last one in to see if you were paying attention). The point is that the Beatles' music was far more intricate as well as completely groundbreaking. Both harmonies and musical progression beyond variations of D-A-G with an occasional Bm7th in there for good measure.

Lyrically, it's hard to argue that I love U2, they strike a chord with me, but, quite frankly, I like Delerious and Coldplay better.

If listening to Coldplay makes me 'Gay', then slap that little title on me and I'll wear that monkier with pride. They may be trendy, but their offerings are the solid music that U2 wishes they were making right now. There is no doubt they are standing on U2's shoulders to create this stuff, but I like it and the latest release (X&Y) is, by far, the greatest.

-Doug

Rich said...

Drop the "gay" stuff guys. It's fine to debate and argue, but try to keep it on a civilized level.
-- -- --
I'll opine shortly.

DugALug said...

Rich,

he started it.

-Doug

Rich said...

Nice comeback, Doug. That was funny.

DugALug said...

Ricg,

Ummm, still waiting for your 'opine'.

-Doug

Rich said...

Alright, Douggie, I opined with a post.