Remember when Bono wasn’t an arena rock god? It’s hard to believe that there was the time when U2 were a small Irish band emerging from the Post-Punk scene—back when they began their career, on October 20th, 1980 with an amazing debut album called Boy.
Boy was recorded over a time span of five months, by a band that borrowed a lot from their peers – namely Siouxsie and the Banshees, from whom they pilfered the Glockenspiel sound that defines their first hit single I Will Follow, and Joy Division, whose producer Martin Hannett was supposed to produce U2’s debut album. But after Ian Curtis’ untimely death, however, the Factory Records sound engineer was unfortunately too distraught to do so. Despite this, Steven Lillywhite’s production is quite remarkable, and it’s hard to imagine “Boy” sounded any different than it turned out to be.
There are many stories to be told about U2’s excellent debut record – one being that the band nearly disbanded because of their Christian faith which didn’t really promote being in a rock band, and another regarding their close connection to the Virgin Prunes – and that the brother of Prunes guitarist Guggi, Peter Rowen, is the boy on the album cover as well as Dik, the Prunes’ drummer, being U2 guitarist The Edge’s brother, and so many other stories.
In case anyone forgot, let it be written there – this is a celebration of a band that has been amazing and rightfully went on to achieve huge success, becoming one of the biggest bands of all time, ad giving us great tracks such as Stories For Boys, The Electric Co., An Cat Dubh, I Will Follow or Out Of Control – just on this album alone—which is now considered a classic.
Before Bono went became some sort of mutation of The Fly, U2 went on to release equally strong, sometimes even stronger releases like October, War, The Joshua Tree, Rattle and Hum or Achtung Baby. Nevertheless, U2’s youthful debut is my favorite album of the band, displaying the band’s youthful take on Post Punk, Wave and their influences while already letting glimpses of what they could become shine through their seemingly naive playfulness.