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Like the aforementioned October, this is a slightly uneven album in terms of performance. The writing, however, is very strong. U2 is one of the few bands that really produce better versions of their songs live, and to truly appreciate "Bad" and "A Sort of Homecoming", I suggest you listen to Wide Awake in America (1985). These songs sound unfinished here and lack the power and polish of their live counterparts. Other songs, like the title track, "Pride", and "Wire" shine incredibly, matching the depth and musicianship shown in War, U2's best album ever.
Indeed, "Indian Summer Sky" and "Wire" are as agressive and harsh as anything in War, but these are great exceptions. The overall feel of this album is very reflective and evocative, as opposed to the boisterous feel of War. The ambient style of Brian Eno is all over this album, and this element, as well as a stronger Americana feel would be evidenced later in The Joshua Tree.
Many songs in this album deal with constructive aspects of America, specifically Martin Luther King, a figure the members of the band felt at the time personified their political views. Both "Pride" and the beautiful "MLK" are a worthy tributes. This is significant, because while War dealt with, well, war, and The Joshua Tree dealt with mostly the destructive and ugly side of America, TUF settles on peace and what U2 thought was great about this country politically (Dr. King) and musically (Presley).
If live version of "...Homecoming" and "Bad" had been included in this album, it would have been a perfect 10 on my list. As is, it scores a 9, mainly on songwriting strength and diversity.
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