U2 has been around for over 30 years now and has released 13 albums. (Not counting EP’s and other things) I like things about each of their albums but some just come out greater than others. What I am about to do is rank U2’s discography in order of least favourite to most favourite album in my opinion (while keeping in mind that all of the albums are quite good) …otherwise they would not have made it to the level they are at today.
So here it goes. (Album Artwork borrowed from www.u2.com)
Release Year: 1981
Album #2 (Preceded by “Boy” – Succeeded by “War”)
This album has its moments, with hit songs such as “Gloria” but it could have been so much more had the band had more time to work on it. The band was still trying to find its feet in the music industry at the time and it shows…but “October also showed more of the band’s musical abilities and what they could do. Another interesting thing about this album it is that throughout many of the songs on October, Bono is unashamed to explain that he has a relationship with Jesus Christ, something that is not typically referred to in mainstream music.
Release Year: 1993
Album #9 (Preceded by “Achtung Baby” – Succeeded by “Pop”)
This album was recorded right in the middle of U2’s most experimental period of time in the 1990s where they were heavily influenced by dance music and techno. This album has its moments from the haunting melodies of “Zooropa” to the honesty of “Stay” but over all the album sets an extremely different tone even from “Achtung Baby” than fans may have been used to. They would never have been able to get away with a song like “Lemon” any earlier in their career as a band.
11. “Under A Blood Red Sky”
Release Year: 1983
Album #4 (Preceded by “War” – Succeeded by “The Unforgettable Fire”)
The live album about their first show at Red Rocks. A DVD was also made of this experience later and we find that they did more songs than were actually recorded onto the CD version. Overall, the songs that did make this recording were played well…but there were songs that were equally well played at that show that fans don’t get to hear on that record.
10. “Rattle and Hum”
Release Year: 1988
Album #7 (Preceded by “The Joshua Tree” – Succeeded by “Achtung Baby”
This album comes off as a compilation album of live favourites throughout the 1980s with a few new songs (at the time) thrown in for good measure.
Release Year: 1997
Album #10 (Preceded by “Zooropa” – Succeeded by “All That You Can’t Leave Behind”
More Christian references in this album, “Mofo” and “Wake Up Dead Man” for example. “Pop” would mark the end of the band’s infatuation with dance music…or would it? Many honest themes about life radiate throughout this record.
8. “The Unforgettable Fire”
Release Year: 1984
Album #5 (Preceded by “Under A Blood Red Sky” – Succeeded by “The Joshua Tree”)
This Album contains the hit songs “A Sort of Homecoming” and “Pride (In The Name of Love)” Many North American themes run throughout, this album is most notably a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.
Release Year: 1983
Album #3 (Preeceded by “October” – Succeeded by “Under A Blood Red Sky”)
This album is about the obvious, War and how to stop it. Containing the hits “Sunday Bloody Sunday” “New Years Day”, and “40” this was arguably the band’s first masterpiece album (many people would say Joshua Tree was their first masterpiece but I would have no problem sticking Joshua Tree as their second masterpiece album).
6. “No Line On The Horizon”
Release Year: 2009
Album #13 (Preceded by “How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb”)
Their most recent album to date. “No Line On The Horizon” is another turning point in the style of the band as they are experimenting with new sounds. Partially recorded in Fez, Morocco there are many African influences as far as the sound of this album. Great lyrics.
Release Year: 1980
Album #1 (Succeeded by “October”)
Something completely different than what other bands were getting into in the early 1980s, U2 shows up as a breath of fresh air with such hits on “Boy” as “I Will Follow” and “Out of Control.” “Boy” was a solid first time effort in my opinion. Themes of being boys and the loss of Bono’s mother ring throughout the album.
4. “Achtung Baby”
Release Year: 1991
Album #8 (Preceded by “Rattle and Hum” – Succeeded by “Zooropa”)
A pivot point in the band’s career as they start really experimenting with their sound and come up with something completely different than anything they had come up with before that point. With hits such as “The Fly”, “Mysterious Ways” , and “One” The Edge got some really good riffs in on this album.
3. “All That You Can’t Leave Behind”
Release Year: 2001
Album #11 (Preceded by “Pop” – Succeeded by “How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb”)
Many Christian references throughout this album. All That You Can’t Leave Behind spawned such hits as “Elevation” and “Beautiful Day.”
2. “The Joshua Tree”
Release Year: 1987
Album #6 (Preceded by “The Unforgettable Fire” – Succeeded by “Rattle and Hum”)
The iconic U2 album for many, it was the best showcase of the band’s “traditional” sound, spawning such hits as “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, “With Or Without You”, “Bullet The Blue Sky”, and “Where The Streets Have No Name” Many Christian and Anti-War references throughout this album.
1. “How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb”
Release Year: 2004
Album #12 (Preceded by “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” – Succeeded by “No Line On The Horizon”)
U2 seemed to put the best of everything they had ever done into this album. Great musically, many good guitar solos, great lyrics, this album would spawn hits such as “Vertigo”, “City of Blinding Lights”, “Love and Peace or Else”, and “Yahweh”. There is something for everyone on this album as U2 had seemingly found a way to integrate every single theme they had ever written about into one single album. One that will be tough to top for years to come…but if anyone can top their own stuff, U2 could do it!
So there you have it!
I would welcome any comments from other U2 fans who might see things differently. You know, to get a real discussion going!