Originally Posted by Milk
I want to preface this by saying I was a huge U2 fan in my teens, then moved on to other things (after my teens for a moment i felt anything i ever liked in my teenage years was stupid and silly)...then came back to them and had to admit they had some good records. The thing is when i did come back to them, while i'd always rated their early stuff very high (Boy has always been either one of or my favorite), i realised then that i MAINLY liked their early stuff. I got into U2 during Achtung Baby, i can still listen to that record but i'm not sure if i listened to it for the first time now i'd like it so much, it's more nostlagia thing at this point though i would still claim its their last good record, and i have never liked ANYTHING they did beyond Zooropa (which has about 3 or 4 pretty good songs)...though as far as radio songs go you could do worse than Beautiful Day i suppose, but the record it's on is just dreadful.
So anyway, knowing i prefer their more post punky era how do i rate October? Well, i've always been torn about this record and there's one simple reason, while i think musically it is very good, as a non christian, the very christian lyrics always kinda bugged me. Now U2 has always had some religion in their lyrics and it's something i can live with, but it's usually been kept to a tolerable level. This record kinda overdoes it because of course back then Larry, Bono and Edge were part of Shalom (described as a christian sect but if you read about it, which i did in U2's biography from 1987, you'll find there was nothing there very harmful or scary we normally associate with the word sect) and were REALLY struggling to reconcile their fate with their music career (the option to stop music was seriously considered). So i guess it's a record that HAD to happen for Bono so he could adress his faith crisis. Mind you not all songs feature religion in an obvious way, but songs like With a Shout, Tomorrow and Gloria are very upfront about it. The truth is, Bono had written the lyrics for this record before they went in the studio and lost the briefcase in which they were (it had actually been stolen by fans backstage while touring the US and it was returned to the band more than twenty years later in the 2000's) so he had to improvise lyrics on the spot in the studio and it shows. I don't know if the original lyrics were as religious, but regardless of their theme, I can't say that most of the lyrics on the record are well written. I realise i'm rating this record right now more on lyrics than music but i'm not someone who can just ignore lyrics. I value words and what a singer is saying (though i can also unerstand context, i don't expect anything deep from a pop song for example but i have standards when it comes to songwriting). I would imagine a christian would probably have a very different perspective about the lyrics though.
Musically, it falls nicely between War and Boy. There's new elements here, the piano on I Fall Down and October (earlier this year i taught myself piano and this is the first song i decided to pick up, its extremely simple but very beautiful), which shuld come as no surprise since Edge had piano lessons as a kid, the Uillean pipes on Tomorrow (always was one of my favorite track on the record). They're stretching themselves a little, are sounding a little more...irish somehow (despite their early rejection of irish music traditions) and also more mature (for better or worse) while the riffs on Gloria or Rejoice (another one of my favorite) are still firmly rooted in the post punk of Boy (and thanks for that because The Edge was never better than in those early days). Fire is another stand out song (and was also the only single with Gloria). It sounds fairly unusual for U2, has some sort of edge to it (no pun intended), a sort of darkness, a sparse yet agressive bass in the verses. Then probably the last standout track for me would be Is That all? It seems more more like a throwaway song it's true, but it has a very good riff and here, i like the simplicity in the lyrics, really. Truthfully, that riff is recycled, it was used in their short live intro to Electric Co.that they called The Cry. You can hear it among other thing on the Under a blood Red Sky live album. I should also mention Scarlet, another throwaway song probably, but i need to mention it because the drums on that song is still something all those years later i often find myself occasionally, randomly finger drumming. Its a drum beat that has been somehow seared into my brain all those many years ago.
In the end, I certainly like October better than War despite the latter being the record that got them to more or less break through. But while it has a handful of good songs (the singles mainly), i think it's more uneven than October (in the first four U2 records, War is actually my least favorite, the order for me would be Boy, Unforgettable fire, October and War and if you throw Joshua tree around number two or three, then you have my list of top 5 U2 records)
As for the best bassline on this, well Gloria i suppose for the solo (first solo AND slapping i ever learned), I think while simple that Rejoice has a good bass too, then i guess Fire. It's not i have to say the record that stands out the most for U2 bassline wise (someone will say U2 NEVER did but the truth is Clayton had some good basslines in him and i find the criticism on him unfair, he wrote some very memorable basslines, just because they aren't hard doesnt mean they're not worthy). Boy had better ones and War after too.