TRACKLISTING(click to see lyrics)
- I Will Follow (3:36)
- Twilight (4:22)
- An Cat Dubh (6:21)
- Into the Heart (1:53)
- Out of Control (4:13)
- Stories for Boys (3:02)
- The Ocean (1:34)
- A Day Without Me (3:14)
- Another Time, Another Place (4:34)
- The Electric Co. (4:48)
- Shadows and Tall Trees (4:36)
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.
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
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.