U2 – War – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

When you get hold of a good pressing, War is a surprisingly good sounding album, much better than The Joshua Tree (although that may not be saying much).  

Side two here was one of THE BEST we played in our entire shootout, with Big Bass, tons of Energy and even a pretty sizable helping of Tubey Magic, something we did not expect to hear on a U2 album. Most of them sound as dry and flat as a cassette. Not this one, or to be more precise, not this copy. We rated it A++ to A+++, about as good as it gets!

The vocals were present and breathy, even silky on some songs, with clarity and resolution throughout the midrange, not the congested, dark sound we hear on so many records from this band. (The ones that don’t sound thin and aggressive that is.)

Side one was nearly as good, rating a solid A Double Plus. Its claim to fame? It was ROCKIN’! The bass was bigger and the band was playing harder and faster, or at least that’s the way it sounded. It lacked some of the top and presence of the best, but still earned each of its two pluses for its heavy dose of sheer adrenaline. Our advice: Drop the needle on Sunday Bloody Sunday, turn it up good and loud and get ready to rock. Check out the drums at the opening — they are right there. The drums on Joshua Tree sound like cardboard boxes covered in blankets. Not these. (You can thank producer Steve Lillywhite for the hard-driving sound on War. He keeps the sound simple, clean and punchy.)

Condition Issues

The majority of the copies we played were slightly warped, but none of them presented a problem once a proper clamp was used. If you do not use a clamp on your table you may have a problem. Since clamping a record makes a significant improvement to the quality of playback, we recommend you get hold of a table that does use a clamp. (We recommend many of the VPI models.)

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Sunday Bloody Sunday
Seconds
New Year’s Day
Like a Song …
Drowning Man

Side Two

The Refugee
Two Hearts Beat as One
Red Light
Surrender
“40”

AMG Review

Opening with the ominous, fiery protest of “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” War immediately announces itself as U2’s most focused and hardest-rocking album to date. Blowing away the fuzzy, sonic indulgences of October with propulsive, martial rhythms and shards of guitar, War bristles with anger, despair, and above all, passion…U2 always aimed at greatness, but War was the first time they achieved it.