- A stunning copy with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one – this copy is going to be very hard to beat
- This pressing offered us real presence, clarity and resolution in the midrange, not the congested, dark sound we hear on so many of U2’s records
- Full-bodied, smooth analog sound is key to the best pressings, and here it is, especially on this side two
- 5 Stars: “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.”
When you get hold of a good pressing, War can be a surprisingly good sounding album, much better than The Joshua Tree (although that may not be saying much).
This was THE Best Sounding Pressing we played in our entire shootout. (Of course it was; that’s what it means to win a shootout.) Many of the LPs we played were as dry and flat as a cassette. Not this copy, even though it had the same stampers as some of those that did not earn particularly good sonic grades.
The vocals were present and breathy, even silky on some songs. There was real clarity and resolution throughout the midrange, not the congested, dark sound we’ve heard on so many of the records from this band. (The ones that don’t sound thin and aggressive that is.)
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.
What Amazing Sides Such as These Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1983
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What We’re Listening For on War
- Less grit – smoother and sweeter sound, something that is not easy to come by on any recording from 1983, including War.
- A bigger presentation – more size, more space, more room for all the instruments and voices to occupy. The bigger the speakers you have to play this record the better.
- More bass and tighter bass. This is fundamentally a pure rock record. It needs weight down low to rock the way Glyn Johns wanted it to.
- Present, breathy vocals. A veiled midrange is the rule, not the exception.
- Good top end extension to reproduce the harmonics of the instruments and details of the recording including the studio ambience.
- Last but not least, balance. All the elements from top to bottom should be heard in harmony with each other. Take our word for it, assuming you haven’t played a pile of these yourself, balance is not that easy to find.
- Our best copies will have it though, of that there is no doubt.
Sunday Bloody Sunday
New Year’s Day
Like a Song …
Two Hearts Beat as One
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.
Critic J.D. Considine said: “Generally, the album’s musical strengths are largely the product of well-honed arrangements and carefully balanced dynamics. Even as the Edge spins increasingly sophisticated guitar lines, he maintains the minimalist bluntness that sparked Boy. And while bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. have swung to more dance-oriented rhythms, their songs hurtle along with the sort of brusque purposefulness more frequently associated with punk.”
Considine added: “the songs here stand up against anything on the Clash’s London Calling in terms of sheer impact, and the fact that U2 can sweep the listener up in the same sort of enthusiastic romanticism that fuels the band’s grand gestures is an impressive feat. For once, not having all the answers seems a bonus.”