Album Reviews of the 80s

This page currently edited by: No One. Past editor: Vapor Trails, Rock 'n' Roll Fan

U2, "Unforgettable Fire" / 1984 Review by: ?
The ruins of Ireland's Moydrum Castle tower over the members of U2 in the cover of The Unforgettable Fire , the band's fourth studio album. Maybe this was symbolic, since the influence of Irish music heard in October is very faint in this album and it's replaced by a plethora of American themes.

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.

We also have pages on this topic devoted to the 70s and 90s

Do You Have a Review to Share?

Please check out the submission page.