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Bringing to a conclusion phase one of U2's reissue packages, "Under A Blood Red Sky" was originally an 8 song concert stopgap EP that bought U2 some time between albums, and now, in retrospect captures U2 at precisely the stage where they stood on the cusp of being pretty good before leaping to huge, and potentially being as big as they would ever be. They could have easily turned into a fair to middling act that never got any bigger than the theatre market. Unlike the traditional cliché, which says all bands release their best stuff in their first decade, and that at the end of that decade they are as big as they are ever going to be, this sees U2 just before they took the leap to arenas, stadiums, and having a turnover bigger than many countries.

Musically, the reissue comes in two flavours : the original 8 song LP give a polish for a CD re-release, and a long awaited DVD version of the Red Rocks concert that was originally seen in a highly truncated VHS release in 1984. Taking a step back from this VHS release, the DVD version has been regraded and expanded : instead of the VHS version released, the DVD is taken (primarily) from the UK TV broadcast featuring a handful of pre-show interviews, backstage footage, and 5 extra songs not previously released. Visually and aurally - given that U2 sank most of their available finance into funding the show - "Live At Red Rocks" is a fairly desperate Fame-Or-Bust move in capturing the euphoric passion of a U2 show of the times but with everything at stake.

These were the days before U2 discovered irony or post-modernism, before Bono became someone who was automatically doublethinking his every thought and action to ensure he didn't offend someone, before he put his personality in check by the rigours of fame and the lens of public eye. Here Bono acts up, improvises, makes it up as he goes along, he leans into the crowd which willingly catch him - an act that would see his jacket torn from him if he tried it now by the hysteria of the hungry - and pulls a girl from the audience to dance with him. (I know, he does this now, but now its part of a love song and a predictable act, then it was a youthful naivety). Over time, this impertuous, eager Bono would be replaced by a mature calculation. When you see U2 now - especially on U23D - you can almost see Bono cynically thinking "If I do this with my arms, that part of the crowd will go wild", "If I say this, they'll scream at me". That safety net and security of having an audience on your side was not here then, and with this concert as many others of the time, U2 had to work very hard to win the crowd over and keep them there.

Musically, the Red Rocks show and live album are signs of a tight, hungry, youthful entity : honed by hundreds of shows and a half-decade playing live, U2 were in their element in a way that the sterile recorded entity could never be. The Edge (in the days when he had hair, not hats) leaps between instruments - guitar and piano - with a dexterity he would never show again : on the next tour, U2 bought sequencers. Behind The Edge, and unsung, are the tight, near telepathic communion between Adam on bass and Larry on drums.

For people who've spent a long time with U2 (I'm in my 22nd year with them), it's strange to see U2 as young boys : all floppy haircuts, and dated fashions from the age before they had stylists who told them what to say, what to wear, and before they learnt by instinct and without thinking, how to pose at every second. Here they were learning their craft, at the limits of their ability, before maturity started to reign them in.

In many respects, the audio CD is a disappointment (as it was at the time) : it's a short ride that fails to reflect the U2 live experience of the time, being about half the length of a U2 concert, as well as missing some fairly major live staples that frequented the numerous b-sides of singles at the time and the running order doesn't reflect any U2 show on the tour. Musically, it's a tight and exciting document that easily matches the rest of U2's high standards but falls a bit short in providing a comprhensive U2 document of their live show at the time. Buy this for the DVD and think of the CD as a handy concert EP instead of a live album in the traditional sense and you may be on a winner here.
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on 6 October 2008
This DVD version of the famous Red Rocks concert has been a long time coming and it does not disappoint. It is great to have the whole concert restored and the missing tracks are so good one wonders why they were ever omitted fom the original VHS version. The most impressive aspect of this release is the improved sound. The bass in particular is awesome, and I can hear phases from Adam Clayton that I have never been able to hear before. Edge's guitar is equally impressive and the whole sound picture is perfetly balanced.

A previous reviewer mentions how this is the last time we see U2 in their original early form before the introduction of sequencers. The Unforgettable Fire album saw the band delve into ambiant, keyboard supported tracks . However, it is not true to say that Edge replaced all his keyboard playing with sequencers. More accurately the sequencers (driving DX7 and Oberheim keyboards) were required to recreate what had been sequenced in the studio while Edge played guitar over the top. To this day he still plays the New Year's Day piano part live just as he did at Red Rocks 25 years ago.

The only oddities are the neccessary edits made during 'Two Hearts Beat as One' and 'Electric Co'. They are both to do with Bono's tendency to introduce songs from other artists into U2 live songs. In the first Bono tried to get the crowd to sing along with him but he could not remember the words. This section has been cut along with what I believe was a couple of phrases from West Side Story that had to be removed from Electric Co for copyright reasons. The latter edit creates quite a 'glitch' in the song but these two hiccups do not detract from what is an amazing piece of rock footage.

The inclusion of Electric Co. shows, for the first time, the sequence where Bono scales the cliff high above the audience that gave us the famous still image from the original video box cover. Up to this point it has not been clear how this image related to the concert.

Another great feature of this version, that was lost on the original, is that the show starts in daylight and, as the show progresses darkness decends along with rain, mist, burning olympic-style torches and stage smoke...very atmospheric!
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on 4 October 2008
This is a great and very honest record! and, as someone here said before, it was made at a time when U2 wasn't that monster that is now. In terms of music, this is a pure, total and absolute rock and roll album. Damn! wish I was there...compared to the Pop Mart or the Vertigo tours, "Live At Red Rocks" is superior. It comes 25 years later to justify why U2 is among the greatest bands in rock. Personally, my favourite songs are "An Cat Dubh" - "Into The Heart" and "11 o'Clock Tick Tock".

Recently, when it was released the DVD "Vertigo 2005: Live from Chicago", it was those two songs (An Cat Dubh/Into The Heart) the ones that meant something for me, because I saw a moment of true communion between The Edge and Adam Clayton as long as they were playing those was like both of them were transported for one moment to the 1983 days...days of honesty and rock and roll.

That's what "Live At Red Rocks", the DVD, offers...honesty and rock and roll. Buy it, the packaging is nice and if you already have the remastered versions of the first 3 albums, then you got to complete the collection.
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on 16 April 2005
The title of my review of this album is not an overstatement. This is it right here - the album that changed my life. I first borrowed it from a mate at school on vinyl (remember vinyl!?) and what I heard coming out of the stereo electrified me like nothing else since. It started me out on a musical journey that continues to this day. There was this young, brash, confident bunch of kids from Ireland making this incredible sound. It was one of the first times I had something my mum and dad couldn't understand. My mates all took the mickey out of me when I kept going on about this band from Ireland called U2. It was all Duran Duran and Culture Club and whatever was in the charts was the hippest thing around. I knew different! The Edge's guitar and especially Bono's voice on this album transcend description. I couldn't believe a band could sound this electrifying live - I still can't. Everything else that came after this was as a result of this album. Paul McGuinness took a chance at Red Rocks and put his band out there in the rain to see what they could do against the big boys of 80's rock. They delivered - big time - and after this they never looked back. The Red Rocks shows made U2 in America - and that was 3 or 4 years BEFORE The Joshua Tree. A classic in every sense. No U2 fan should ever be without this. The video's a classic too!
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on 20 February 2004
Essentially, 'Under a blood red sky' comprimises of the best of the Dublin quartets first three albums, Boy, October and War, captured live from various shows in Europe and the U.S.
The only real shame about this CD is that their are only 8 tracks on it, and many highlights from the first three albums, e.g.'Out of Control' from Boy and 'Drowning man' from War are left out. Added bonuses however are '11 o'clock tick-tock' and 'party girl' which do not appear on any of their studio albums.
U2's initial success and survival as a band is often attributed to the quality of their live performances, and this CD only reinforces that conception. Throughout the album the Edge's effects laden guitar play is faultless and is supported throughout by Adam Clayton's throbbing bass lines and Larry Mullen Jnr's drum beats. However the highlight must be Bono's vocals, particularly on 'Gloria', 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' and the fantastic 'New Years Day' where his passion and effect can be felt much more clearly than on studio efforts. Ultimately this album represents the first phase of U2's career and highlights the potential which was to make them the biggest rock band on the planet with the 1987 realease of the Joshua Tree. A fine effort and certainly worth investing in.
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on 15 August 2013
A very enjoyable album from before U2 took a significant change of direction. The purists may be disappointed to know that the "Send in the Clowns" section in Electric Co. as heard on the original vinyl remains edited out on CD. (At least one early CD edition contains this section.) I gather there are copyright/licensing/whatever issues around this. Also the CD runs through without the inbetween side fades, which suits me just fine as it brings a greater continuity rather than matching the vinyl just for the sake of it.

The DVD is enjoyable with way more tracks than the CD, and apparently more than the original VHS version too. There is also hidden content, which I couldn't access on a standalone DVD player, but could via a laptop.
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on 6 June 2014
I remember this album growing up and I really like it then when I originally had it on Vinyl, so I bought it on CD quite a number of years ago but I wasn't very happy with the overall quality of the recording so when I saw that it had been REMASTERED I had to buy it once again.
The quality is fantastic now with a much improved frequency range and better bass so if you like this album then I would recommend that you buy this REMASTERED edition.
Such a classic album it should be in most people's collections.
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on 17 November 2015
U2,S best ever live album, forget rattle and hum and any others since, this was when they were eager not the bloated group they have become. Recorded at RED ROCKS an open air ampitheatre i first saw the gig on CHANNEL 4 as part of a THE TUBE special in the mid 80,s. They have since revamped the album with extra tracks but that sells at near new prices and i got this for pennies at Zoverstocks. There is also a dvd going for a not bad price so see that then play this cheap cd in the car to remind you of when U2 cared and didn,t sit thereas celebs on the GRAHAM NORTON SHOW.
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on 9 July 2016
When U2 were still young and still fresh this was the best thing to have if you couldn't get a concert ticket. Had this on cassette so took the plunge and brought the CD. Also got the Auto rip so happy all the way to the bank
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on 5 October 2008
Still Brill!!! BUT & only a tiny BUT this is still an edited version & not as my original vinyl mini LP, "the Electric Co (track 6) is 45 seconds shy missing out "send in the clowns" lyrics
don't know about the remastered vinyl but the CD/DVD package is short
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