Thursday, October 29, 2009


October 20, 1980;Island Records.
TRACKLISTING(click to see lyrics)
Boy was U2's first album length release. It was released on October 20, 1980 in Europe and the UK. This initial release was with the original "Boy" cover pictured above. The album was released the net spring in North America, but with a very different cover, often referred to as the "Stretched Faces" cover. The label had felt that the American public would not approve of an album cover by an unknown band, that featured a boy with no visible clothing. Obviously the opinion would change as in 1983, War was released with a very similar cover.

Some early vinyl versions of the album contain a short 30 second instrumental track. This track is at the end of Shadows and Tall Trees, and most agree that it is an early version of the song Fire. Later masterings of the vinyl removed this 30s instrumental, and it has not appeared on later versions of this album on cassette and CD. The 1989 repressing of the album in Germany did contain this short instrumental.

There are also two very different mastering jobs on CD pressings of Boy. The North American releases tend to have An Cat Dubh (6:21) / Into the Heart (1:53), whereas European releases have these as An Cat Dubh (4:47) / Into the Heart (3:28). When comparing the physical vinyl, you can see this difference, although listening to the album will not show any differences as these tracks flow into one another. The overall track is identical for both releases, just the division point is different on the two.

Alternative cover US

Some reviews:
Boy opened U2’s career with a whoop & a whirl. Part of the punk manifesto was that rock music be re-opened to the young, but too many art-school nostrums gave its albums a degree of self-consciousness & knowingness that was truer to its listeners aspirations of hip-ness than their experiences of adolescent insecurities.

But the secret of Boy was that U2 refused to grow up too fast. The Boy was still on the cusp of manhood. He didn’t fake a false self-confidence that he didn’t really feel deep inside. He might be gushing romantically, but he was also hopelessly confused about girls and his new responsibilities as he quit the family unit.

This theme makes Boy unique since rock & roll has always pretended to be more grown up than it really was. Its rites of passage emphasise the ‘after’, not ‘before’ and most rockers might’ve felt that Bono’s behaviour in mourning his mother was sissy. Rock generally finished adolescence with a mask, but Boy was original in stripping it off.

But it was obvious that U2 weren’t neo-anything. At their song writing rehearsals they were always determined to avoid any borrowed licks. But this wasn’t just stylistic stubbornness. For whatever Irish reason, U2 has a different mood & agenda. Unlike The Clash, U2 weren’t the last gang in town. They were romantics who knew nothing of the self-conscious decadence that infected much of the British punk and post-punk scenes.

There was a further reason for the album’s freshness. In time-warped Ireland, rock was still a dream. Punks elsewhere could be considered the second or third generations of rock, but, in Ireland, U2 could still count themselves among the pathfinders of the first.

U2 – the complete guide to their music’ -Bill Graham

"I Will Follow," the kickoff cut from the debut album by Irish whiz kids U2, is a beguiling, challenging, perfect single. With its racing-pulse beat, tinkling percussion and mantra-simple chorus of dogged affection ("If you walkaway, walkaway/I walkaway, walkaway–I will follow"), it's already a dance-floor favorite.

Unfortunately, much of the rest of Boy doesn't quite equal that first vital piece of precocity. U2 plays smart, bass-heavy trance-pop, urged on by the earnest vocal emoting of Bono Vox and enlivened by the ringing accents of the versatile guitarist who calls himself the Edge. But their songs–mostly chronicles of psychic growing pains–are a diffuse and uneven lot. "Out of Control" boasts the same heady rumble as "I Will Follow," while "Stories for Boys" is carried by its B-movie guitar line and soaring youthful harmonies. Other tunes, however, are less successful. "An Cat Dubh" and the seemingly interminable "Shadows and Tall Trees" ramble without resolution, neither coalescing into identifiable hooks nor attaining the seductive atmospherics of, say, Echo and the Bunnymen.

Hopefully, U2 may yet justify Island's hyped-up optimism. With the help of creative producer Steve Lillywhite, they've already blended echoes of several of Britain's more adventurous bands into a sound that's rich, lively and comparatively commercial. And, unlike the real innovators, they'll have the tour support to back it up. U2 is talented, charming and potentially (they're all still under twenty-one) exceptional. But as a new Next Big Thing, they're only the next best thing to something really new.

Debra Rae Cohen, Rolling Stone Magazine, 16, 1981

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