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Not so much a `difficult second album', as nowadays a `Christian' album
on 13 February 2009
BY AUTUMN '81, a long time in music then, with fashions changing so quickly - U2 were verging on splitting up. Well, not quite; that was still to come. For now, they struggled with a case of stolen lyrics and a crisis of faith, as they lived that `difficult' second album.
Listening again, it's interesting how the naivety and innocence of their debut, in terms of sound, had progressed from dinky drums and xylophone to the sparse production and bleak soundscape of post-Punk, Joy Divison-esque 'October'. Intriguing were the reviews of the time, clearly already informed of the group's Christian beliefs. Listening afresh, their so-called `Christian' album is no more overtly-religious than any which have followed, in lyrical concern. Largely gone, however, is the adolescent angst. Still to come, the political commentary. Only two years previously, Bob Dylan announced his conversion to Christ with the evangelistic 'Slow Train Coming' and coupled with Cliff and After The Fire both in chart ascendancy, a new wave act with spiritual sympathies wasn't a complete surprise to the listening public. Indeed, 'October' sat well with 'Slow Train' and complimented the latter's preaching with a work of art remarkable for it's genuine doubt, confusion and apprehension.
In amongst it, the sheer joy of 'Scarlet'; the still-raw bereavement of 'Tomorrow', the anthemic 'Gloria'. Dense, intense and atmospheric, the Uilleann pipes suggest Ireland as a geographical place. The album's title and lyrical feel countenance a time for death and re-birth.