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Over the course of the Eighties U2
became the most widely followed rock band in the world.
The Irish rockers were influenced by punk's raw energy, but they immediately distinguished
themselves from their postpunk peers with a huge, soaring sound - centered on David 'The
Edge' Evans' reverb-laden guitar playing and Paul 'Bono' Hewson's sensuous vocals- and
songs that tackled social and spiritual matters with an earnest, tender urgency. U2 shunned the
sort of ironic expression and electronic gimmickry that were considered hip in the Eighties-
until the Nineties, that is, when the band began drawing on such elements to reinvigorate and
broaden its sound. U2 has mantained not only its massive popularity, but also its status as one
of the most adventurous and groundbreaking acts in pop music.

The band members began rehearsing together while students at Dublin's Mount Temple High
School. None was technically proficient at the beginning, but their lack of expertise mothered
invention. The Edge's distinctive chordal style, for instance, stemmed largely from the
guitarist's inability to play complicated leads, while bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry
Mullen Jr. provided a rythm section that was mostly pummeling ardor. The novice musicians
quickly developed a following in Ireland and found a manager, Paul McGuinness, who has
remained with them. They recorded independently before signing to Island Records in 1980.

U2's debut album, Boy, was produced by Steve Lillywhite. On it, the grop earnestly explored
adolescent hopes and terrors, rejecting hard rock's earthy egotism and punks nihilism. Bono,
U2's lyricist, was a practicing Christian, as were The Edge and Mullen; and on a second LP,
called October (a 1981 Lillywhite production), the singer incorporated imagery evoking their
faith. Boy and October generated the singles 'I Will Follow' and 'Gloria', which got some
airplay in the U.S.; both videos were heavily featured on MTV. An American club tour
generated further interest, thanks to U2's extremely compelling live performances.

War cemented U2's reputation as a politically conscious band; among its themes were 'the
troubles' in Northern Ireland, addressed on the single 'Sunday Bloody Sunday'. Another
single, 'New Year's Day', went to #11 in England and #53 in the U.S., while War topped the
British chart and hit #12 stateside. The group commemorated its 1983 tour with the live EP
Under A Blood Red Sky, recorded at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado.

U2's next studio album, The Unforgettable Fire, was the first of several fruitful
collaborations with producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. The album generated the group's
first American Top Forty single, an ode to American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.,
called '(Pride) In The Name Of Love' (#33, 1984). The album hit #12 in the U.S., and the
Irishmen supported it by headlining arenas around the world. In 1985 U2 was proclaimed
'band of the Eighties' by Rolling Stone and made a historic appearance at Live Aid. The
following year, the group joined Sting, Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed, and others for the Conspiracy
of Hope Tour benefiting Amnesty International.

U2 entered the pop stratosphere with The Joshua Tree, a critical and commercial smash that
topped the albums chart that year and spawned the #1 hits 'With Or Without You' and 'I Still
Haven't Found What I'm Looking For', as well as 'Where The Streets Have No Name' (#13,
1987). The LP, which was produced by Eno and Lanois, won the group two Grammys, for
Album of the Year and Best Rock Performance. In 1988 U2 wrapped up a triumphant
worldwide tour by releasing Rattle And Hum, a double album that combined live tracks with
new material and featured guest appearances by Bob Dylan and B.B. King. Rattle And Hum
seemed bombastic to some critics; an accompanying film documentary also garnered mixed
reviews. The LP nonetheless shot to #1 and produced a #3 single, 'Desire' (1988).

In 1990 U2 covered Cole Porter's 'Night And Day' for Red Hot + Blue, a compilation album
benefiting AIDS research. The band's next LP, Achtung Baby, reached #1 and drew rave
reviews. The LP marked a stylistic departure, featuring more metallic textures, funkier beats,
and intimate, world-weary love songs. Hit singles included 'Mysterious Ways' (#9, 1992),
'One' #10, 1992, 'Even Better Than The Real Thing' (#32, 1992), and 'Who's Gonna Ride
Your Wild Horses' #35, 1992. Another track, 'Until The End Of The World', was featured
in Wim Wenders' 1991 film of the same name. Lanois, who produced Achtung Baby with
support from Eno and Lillywhite, won a Grammy for his work.

In 1992 U2 embarked on its ZooTV Tour, a flashy multimedia extravaganza that contrasted
with the rugged simplicity of its previous shows. Bono adopted a series of wry guises -the
leather-and-shades-sporting Fly, the demonic MacPhisto- that he'd use for encores and, in the
Fly's case, press appearances. In 1993, as the tour wound down, the band reentered the
studio and made Zooropa, a quirky, techno-drunk affair coproduced by Eno, The Edge, and
engineer Flood. The album reached #1, but yielded only the minor hit 'Stay (Faraway, So
Close' #61, 1993, which was also on the soundtrack to Wenders' 1993 movie Faraway, So
Close!. Johnny Cash sang lead on the track 'The Wanderer'. In 1993 U2 renewed its contract
with Island for an estimated $170 million. U2's contribution to 1995's Batman Forever
soundtrack, 'Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me', was a Top Twenty hit. As of mid-1995,
the band was reportedly recording two albums simultaneously -a collaboration with Brian Eno
of mostly instrumental music and one that the band described as a 'rock & roll album'.

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The Best of U2

Mission Imposible
Still have not found
Running to stand still
With or Without You
Where the streets have no name
The Joshua album

By 1987,
the band's following had grown large enough to propel them to level
of international superstars with the release of The Joshua Tree. Unlike many of their
contemporaries, U2 was able to sustain their popularity in the '90s by reinventing
themselves as a post-modern, self-consciously ironic dance-inflected pop-rock act,
owing equally to the experimentalism of late '70s Bowie and '90s electronic dance and
techno. By performing such a successful reinvention, the band confirmed its status as
one of the most popular bands in rock history, in addition to earning additional critical

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