Island Records, 1981

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Sometimes, after a band has hit the point of superstardom, it is interesting to go back and look at their earliest works to hear where they originally started.

So when reader "Bigdog Bireley" wrote to me suggesting we review U2's debut effort Boy, I went deep into the Pierce Memorial Archives (Where should we put the Theremin?) to retrieve it. I slapped it on the turntable...

And... nothing. The first effort of Bono Vox, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr., fails to set the ol' turntable on fire, though the album is hardly a disaster.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

From the two minor hits "I Will Follow" and "Stories For Boys," U2 show they have the know-how to craft a solid pop tune. However, the true surprise lies in the track "Twilight," which features solid vocals from Bono and guitar riffs.from The Edge (though I never understood why he didn't use his real name).

But Boy quickly falls into a pattern of ordinary songwriting and performance that, while not bad in and of itself, tends to bore the listener. I tried five times to get through the first side, but by the time "An Cat Dubh" - the third friggin' track, for Crissake - my mind had wandered. Though I had sat there listening to the record, I coulnd't remember listening to the last track. By the time I made it to "Out Of Control" and the end of the side, I was completely frustrated.

The second half of the album suffers from the same fate. If you didn't have the album jacket in front of you, it would be hard to remember if you just listened to "A Day Without Me" or "Another Time, Another Place," "The Ocean" or "Shadows And Tall Trees."

There is still a lot of room for growth that can be heard on Boy - the jangled lead-rhythm guitar of The Edge is still not there (though he proves himself to be a competent lead player here). And Bono's voice, though powerful with youth, also hasn't gained the bite that only experience - with a touch of political righteousness - could add.

Maybe it's just me, I don't know. Maybe the problem is that, due to U2's rise to superstardom since this album came out in 1980, I hold anything I listen to by them to those standards. In this case, though, I don't think that's the problem with Boy, though.

In this case, I think the problem is simply age. What passed for cutting edge 17 years ago now sounds dated, if not pleasant enough. And that is the difficulty with Boy - it isn't a bad enough album to condemn, but it's not a good enough album to recommend for addition to one's collection.

Rating: C+

User Rating: A



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Island Records, and is used for informational purposes only.