One of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed rock bands of all time, U2 is not typically identified as a Christian band, although its fascination with Christianity is apparent to even the most superficial fan.
U2's first album, Boy (1980), produced only one minor hit ("I Will Follow," a tribute to Bono's mother) but drew the attention of critics who heralded the band's potential. Rolling Stone called the album "pop music with brains."
October (1981) was marketed explicitly as a Christian album, sold in Bible bookstores, and reviewed in all the Christian music magazines. The lead song, "Gloria," incorporates phrases from the Psalms. "Rejoice" invokes a biblical summons to defy this-worldly cynicism, a theme that is picked up again in the song "Scarlet" (where the word rejoice is repeated over and over).
If October was widely received within the contemporary Christian music subculture as the work of a Christian band, so too was War (1983), which finally brought the group widespread commercial success. It reached Number 12 in the United States (No. 1 in Britain) on the strength of such radio hits as "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "New Year's Day," and "Two Hearts Beat as One." The album opens with a call to "claim the victory Jesus won" ("Sunday Bloody Sunday") and closes with a hymnic meditation on Psalm 40 ("40").
U2 will always be best remembered for The Joshua Tree (1987). Some pundits may have thought it premature for Rolling Stone to name U2 "the most important band of the '80s" in 1985, but when this masterpiece arrived, all doubt was suspended. The album features the band's two biggest hits, "With or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (both No. 1 for weeks), in addition to the much-played, ...1
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