How does Boy stack up as a debut album? - U2 Feedback

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Old 09-22-2002, 10:04 PM   #1
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How does Boy stack up as a debut album?

I'm not sure how much attention this post will get, with all the posts about Oprah, ES, and Pop in here, but here goes. I was just thinking about how Boy compares to other debut albums that are well-known, either because they were such smash hits critically and commercially from the get-go, or because the bands that made them went on to huge success later on. Obviously U2 fall in the latter category, as Boy sold well and had good reviews, but was by no means an overnight success. But how does it compare to albums from artists like The Beatles, The Who, Rolling Stones, etc., as well as huge-selling debuts like the ones from Boston, Hootie and the Blowfish, and such (most of which went on to be one-trick ponies).

Personally, I think its way up there as an album, and though its not perfect, it certainly sets up the U2 sound that would follow for years. I think its great that they were able to do something like that so early, and to build on for so long.
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Old 09-22-2002, 10:20 PM   #2
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Big Grin

Yay! A Boy thread!

I can't really comment on how it stacks up against other debut albums.

But I LOVE THIS ALBUM.

It's all in the spirit ... and the exuberance ... think about Bono's spastic jerking dances during that era. Try to stop laughing, and then you realize: all of that energy is contained in the songs themselves as well. As I said in another thread, you can practically hear the goofy pants.
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Old 09-22-2002, 11:25 PM   #3
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Boy is one of the best debut albums ever made. In my opinion, it is tied for 5th in in U2's top 5 (I honestly can't pick between Boy and War):

1. The Joshua Tree
2. Achtung Baby
3. All Than You Can't Leave Behind
4. The Unforgettable Fire
5. tie: Boy & War

Interesting that the top 4 are all produced by Lanois and Eno, hey? Must be something to that.

Here's the rest...

7. Zooropa (I adore this album)
8. Pop (brilliant work)
9. Rattle and Hum (some of the best songs U2 have ever written)
10. October (awe-striking moments)

I love all these albums, but as difficult as it was, I had to rank them. If I ranked them next week or even tomorrow, it could be totally different (except for the top two, of course).

Boy is really the DNA of the band. You could hear so much potential in the Edge's delay effects, in Larry's urgency, in Adams placements, and Bono's relentlessness. There's this poetic hopefulness, this naivity, this restless spirit that comes flying out of Boy in waves. Ecstatic music at its finest. I'm not sure if U2 have ever rocked out as much as they did on Boy. Something very special was caught on Boy, and I haven't heard it since.

I've been reading some cool reviews and interviews with U2 during the Boy era. I'll post a couple...
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Old 09-22-2002, 11:28 PM   #4
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Rolling Stone's review (Note: Since then R.S. has given the album 4 stars.)

Debra Rae Cohen

3.5 stars

"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 Boy" 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 & 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.


1981 Rolling Stone. All Rights Reserved.
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Old 09-22-2002, 11:29 PM   #5
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U2: Here Comes the 'Next Big Thing'
Rolling Stone, February 19, 1981


James Henke

Here I am, an American writer, dining with an Irish band in a Greek restaurant in the heart of England. Strange? Well, so is the scene that's unfolding in front of me. A few feet away, tow musicians are seated on a platform. One is playing bouzouki, a stringed instrument similar to a mandolin, while the other, a heavyset fellow in black suit and dark glasses who looks remarkably like the Godfather, is hammering away at a small electric keyboard with built-in rhythm machine. In front of them, approving patrons toss plate after ceramic plate to the floor, where they shatter at the feet of U2's Bono Vox, who is demonstrating that a rock singer from Ireland can be quite a lively dancer.

Though this seems like some sort of international celebration, it's only another preshow dinner for U2. The band, which has been touring Britain nonstop since the release of its debut album, Boy, in mid-October, has garnered more than the usual amount of attention -- thanks in part to an overzealous English music press. Since early last year, the media have been touting U2 -- vocalist Vox, drummer Larry Mullen, guitarist "the Edge" and bassist Adam Clayton -- as the Next Big Thing. If all the publicity weren't enough, Island Records President Chris Blackwell proclaimed the group the label's most important signing since King Crimson.

In concert, the loquacious Vox tries to play down all the hype -- he regularly tells audiences to "forget all that stuff you may have read and make up your own minds" -- but privately he concurs with the press. "I don't mean to sound arrogant," he tells me after the dancing has died down, "but at this stage, I do feel that we are meant to be one of the great groups. There's a certain spark, a certain chemistry, that was special about the Stones, the Who and the Beatles, and I think it's also special about U2."

A mighty boast, to be sure. But Boy, scheduled for a late-January U.S. release, does indicate that U2 is a band to be reckoned with. Their highly original sound can perhaps best be described as pop music with brains. It's accessible and melodic, combining the dreamy, atmospheric qualities of a band like Television with a hard-rock edge not unlike the Who's. In particular, Edge's guitar playing and Bono's singing stand out; the lyrical guitar lines slice through every song, while the vocals are rugged, urgent and heartfelt.

The title Boy is appropriate and significant: not only are the band members young -- Bono and Adam are twenty, Larry and Edge nineteen -- but the bulk of their songs deal with the dreams and frustrations of childhood. "We're playing to an audience in Britain that ranges in age from seventeen to twenty-five," Bono explains. "There is massive unemployment, and there is real disillusionment. U2's music is about getting up and doing something about it."

But wasn't that also the aim of punk? "The idea of punk at first was, 'Look, you're an individual, express yourself how you want, do what you want to do.'" Bono says. "But that's not the way it came out in the end. The Sex Pistols were a con, a box of tricks sold by Malcolm McLaren. Kids were sold the imagery of violence, which turned into the reality of violence, and it's that negative side that I worry about. People like Bruce Springsteen, carry hope. Like the Who -- 'Won't Get Fooled Again.' I mean, there is a song of endurance, and that's the attitude of the great bands. We want our audience to think about their actions and where they are going, to realize the pressures that ware on them, but at the same time, not to give up."

Part of U2's attitude comes from the fact that they are, as Bono puts it, "appreciative of our background." The group formed in 1978 at an experimental school in Dublin. "It was multi-denominational," he explains, "which, in terms of Dublin and Ireland, is quite unique. It was also coeducational, which was unusual too. We were given freedom, and when you're given freedom, you don't rebel by getting drunk."

That message comes across again when the group headlines a show at London's Marquee club a few days later. After a rousing forty-five minute set, the band returns to the stage for an encore. But before launching into another song, Bono makes a short speech about the little boy pictured on the British version of U2's LP. "Some people have been asking about the boy on the cover of the album," he says. "Well he happens to be a kid who lives across the street from me. We put him on the cover 'cause he's a pretty smart kid. And sometimes I wonder what his future will be like -- and I wonder about ours."

At this point, U2's future looks bright. The band has managed to deal levelheadedly with a sudden popularity in the U.K. In addition, they've shunned such traditional rock & roll pitfalls as booze and drugs. Finally, the band is willing to work. A three-month U.S. trek will begin in March, and Bono is, as usual, confident about the band's chances in the States. "Right now, the word is 'go!' for U2," he says. "It is my ambition to travel to America and give it what I consider it wants and needs."
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Old 09-22-2002, 11:35 PM   #6
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well .... .......i still think that " The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn " was kinda better ...hehe ........
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Old 09-23-2002, 02:06 AM   #7
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Boy is a very good debut album. Definately one of the better ones I can think of. Here are some more debut albums that were really good, not including EPs:

Blue Lines - Massive Attack
Pretty Hate Machine - Nine Inch Nails
Experience - Prodigy
Definately Maybe - Oasis
Murmur - REM
Parachuttes - Coldplay
Ten - Pearl Jam
Led Zeppelin I - Led Zeppelin
The Smiths - The Smiths
Moon Safari - Air
Showbiz - Muse
Orbital - Orbital
The Blue Album - Weezer
Under the Table and Dreaming - Dave Matthews Band
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Old 09-23-2002, 05:28 AM   #8
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Re: How does Boy stack up as a debut album?

Quote:
Originally posted by Foxxern


Personally, I think its way up there as an album, and though its not perfect, it certainly sets up the U2 sound that would follow for years. I think its great that they were able to do something like that so early, and to build on for so long.
That's basically what I would say. It's a very good debut. It's solid. I don't think, however, that it's one of the greatest debuts of all time. It's very, very young, though Larry and Edge are doing some brilliant stuff and there are some neat lyrics. I think Led Zeppelin's debut, for instance, is far more mature, and I think Robert Plant was only about twenty at the time (not sure about the other guys, I know Jimmy is older.) The difference is, I suppose, that shortly before recording Boy, Bono and Adam were barely even musicians, and Larry and Edge weren't exactly seasoned. That does make it an amazing debut, in a way. But on its own merits, I would definitely hesitate to say it's one of the greatest debuts ever.
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Old 09-23-2002, 01:00 PM   #9
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What is the greatest debut album ever? I would say The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses. It's already considered classic, and often places in the top 10 in "best ever" polls. In a recent UK poll (I believe it was for Q Magazine) it was actually voted as the #1 album of all time! As lofty as these polls are, not many debuts are able to pull that off (have any other debut albums EVER been voted the #1 album of all time?).

Another amazing debut is Good Feeling by Travis. Life thirsty, and some great melodies. Reminds me of Boy in some ways, but more Beatlesque.

Speaking of Boy (hehe) - I think there are some extraordinary moments on that album, moments that just make you go WOW. For example, 'The Ocean' just kind of comes out of nowhere with these trippy lyrics on Dorean Gray. It's a song that could fit into any of U2's material - from the 80s to the 90s and beyond. There are moments like that on Boy where we get to look through musical windows into their future. Moments where we are struck by a genius that make it obvious why U2 are who they are.
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Old 09-24-2002, 06:44 AM   #10
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Actually the Stone Roses thing was the BBC. Q's number one, fan-voted album was Radiohead's OK Computer. However, they're redoing the lists for the next issue so if you want to do a spot of voting head down to http://www.q4music.com .

My very favourite moment of Boy is probably the charging rhythms of Out Of Control. They just hit you out of nowhere (even though I find that 'woke the world with bawling' a bit dodgy).
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Old 09-24-2002, 11:55 AM   #11
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Amazingly, I still havent bought Boy!

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Old 09-24-2002, 12:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by yertle-the-turtle
Actually the Stone Roses thing was the BBC. Q's number one, fan-voted album was Radiohead's OK Computer. However, they're redoing the lists for the next issue so if you want to do a spot of voting head down to http://www.q4music.com .

My very favourite moment of Boy is probably the charging rhythms of Out Of Control. They just hit you out of nowhere (even though I find that 'woke the world with bawling' a bit dodgy).
Oh yes, I remember it was the BBC now that you mention it. I totally agree with you about those "charging rhythms" of 'Out of Control'. They just kind of soar, hey? It's this BIG sound that you know would just springboard the live show for years to come. As for the lyrics of the song, luckily there's so much noise overtop of some of Bono's slurring (he sounds drunk in the song!), that you can't really make out all the words unless you know them already. This plays out as an advantage for U2, as the words that you can hear form an impression that the song could be very clever - you just never know in the end, but with music like that, it just doesn't matter!
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Old 09-24-2002, 06:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mirrorball Girl
Yay! A Boy thread!

I can't really comment on how it stacks up against other debut albums.

But I LOVE THIS ALBUM.

It's all in the spirit ... and the exuberance ... think about Bono's spastic jerking dances during that era. Try to stop laughing, and then you realize: all of that energy is contained in the songs themselves as well. As I said in another thread, you can practically hear the goofy pants.
Hehe...spastic jerking dances...I think it's fun to watch him attempt to dance, it's kinda cute. That guy's got a lot of energy.

I did notice that a lot of the songs on there aren't very long lyrically, but hey, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Angela
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Old 09-24-2002, 07:15 PM   #14
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Wasn't DMB's debut "Remember 2 Things"?

Anyway - I'd say Boy is awesome for what it was, but the fact that it ranks midrange in the U2 canon says something. It only has one bonafide hit on it.

I'd say it wilts in comparison to many mentioned, my faves being...

Ten from Pearl Jam
Van Halen I from Van Halen
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