October 12, 1981 – U2: October

ON THIS DATE (30 YEARS AGO)
October 12, 1981 – U2: October is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 3.5/5
# Allmusic 3/5 stars
# Rolling Stone 3/5 stars
October is the second album by Irish rock band U2, released in 1981. The album featured spiritual themes, inspired by Bono, The Edge, and Larry Mullen, Jr.’s memberships in a Christian group called the “Shalom Fellowship”, which led them to question the relationship between the Christian faith and the rock and roll lifestyle. The album received mixed reviews and limited radio play.
After completing their Boy Tour in February 1981, U2 began to write new material. (“Fire” had already been recorded at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas while U2 took a break from the Boy Tour.) They wrote part of October during an extended sound check at First Avenue in Minneapolis. The band entered the studio in July 1981 to record October, but the album’s recording sessions were complicated when the briefcase containing Bono’s lyrics was stolen by fans after a show in Portland, Oregon. The band already booked studio time through the end of August and thus had to continue recording in spite of this, even improvising lyrics on some songs. Bono said of the recording process of October, “I remember the pressure it was made under; I remember writing lyrics on the microphone, and at £50 an hour, that’s quite a pressure. Lillywhite was pacing up and down the studio… he coped really well. And the ironic thing about October is that there’s a sort of peace about the album, even though it was recorded under that pressure. A lot of people found October hard to accept at first, I mean, I used the word ‘rejoice’ precisely because I knew people have a mental block against it. It’s a powerful word, it’s lovely to say. It’s implying more than ‘get up and dance, baby.’ I think October goes into areas that most rock ‘n’ roll bands ignore. When I listen to the album, something like ‘Tomorrow,’ it actually moves me.” The briefcase was eventually recovered in October 2004, and Bono greeted its return as “an act of grace”.
The record placed an emphasis on religion and spirituality, particularly in the songs “Gloria” (featuring a Latin chorus of “Gloria, in te domine”), “With a Shout (Jerusalem)”, and “Tomorrow”. About the album, Bono declared in 2005: “Can you imagine your second album—the difficult second album—it’s about God?”.
Album sales indicate that October is the least popular of U2’s studio albums, and it is frequently at the bottom of many U2 fans’ lists and polls. Only one of the songs from October, the title song, was featured in the band’s The Best of 1980–1990 collection, as a hidden track at the end of the album, although both it and “Gloria” were staples of the band’s live set throughout the eighties. On the other hand, October was ranked as #41 on CCM Magazine’s 2001 list of the greatest Christian music albums of all time, one of two U2 albums to make the list, the other being The Joshua Tree.
TRACKS:
All lyrics written by Bono, all music composed by U2.
Side one
1. “Gloria” 4:14
2. “I Fall Down” 3:39
3. “I Threw a Brick Through a Window” 4:54
4. “Rejoice” 3:37
5. “Fire” 3:51
Side two
1. “Tomorrow” 4:39
2. “October” 2:21
3. “With a Shout (Jerusalem)” 4:02
4. “Stranger in a Strange Land” 3:56
5. “Scarlet” 2:53
6. “Is That All?” 2:59
2008 remastered edition
Bonus CD (2008 Remix Deluxe Edition)
All songs written and composed by U2.
1. “Gloria” (Live at Hammersmith Palais, London on 6 December 1982) BBC Radio 1 (8 January 1983) 4:43
2. “I Fall Down” (Live at Hammersmith Palais, London on 6 December 1982) BBC Radio 1 (8 January 1983) 3:02
3. “I Threw a Brick Through a Window” (Live at Hammersmith Palais, London on 6 December 1982) BBC Radio 1 (8 January 1983) 3:52
4. “Fire” (Live at Hammersmith Palais, London on 6 December 1982) BBC Radio 1 (8 January 1983) 3:32
5. “October” (Live at Hammersmith Palais, London on 6 December 1982) BBC Radio 1 (8 January 1983) 2:22
6. “With a Shout” (BBC session on 3 September 1981) BBC Radio 1 (broadcast 8 September 1981) 3:34
7. “Scarlet” (BBC session on 3 September 1981) BBC Radio 1 (broadcast 8 September 1981) 2:46
8. “I Threw a Brick Through a Window” (BBC session on 3 September 1981) BBC Radio 1 (broadcast 8 September 1981) 4:18
9. “A Celebration” “A Celebration” single 2:57
10. “J. Swallo” “Fire” single 2:20
11. “Trash, Trampoline and the Party Girl” “A Celebration” single 2:36
12. “I Will Follow” (Live at The Paradise, Boston on 6 March 1981) “Gloria” single 3:44
13. “The Ocean” (Live at The Paradise, Boston on 6 March 1981) “Fire” single 2:15
14. “The Cry / The Electric Co.” (Live at The Paradise, Boston on 6 March 1981) “Fire” single (without “Send in the clowns”) 4:28
15. “11 O’Clock Tick Tock” (Live at The Paradise, Boston on 6 March 1981) “Fire” single 4:57
16. “I Will Follow” (Live from Hattem on 14 May 1982) “I Will Follow” (Live) single 3:52
17. “Tomorrow” (Common Ground remix) Common Ground compilation album 4:36

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