U2 came out of the U.K. punk scene — from Ireland, specifically – with a stripped-down sound that hinted at grandeur beneath the skittering surface. Even on their very first album, 1980’s ‘Boy,’ Bono’s soaring vocals and the Edge’s shimmering guitar were aimed at something bigger than whatever punk and New Wave offered them. By 1983’s ‘War,’ U2 began making ripples with their anthem-sized songs about the same things Bob Dylan sang about 20 years earlier. On 1987’s ‘The Joshua Tree,’ they finally reached the legendary status they were striving for with a sprawling work about broken dreams at the end of the world. After a globe-conquering tour made them one of the era’s biggest bands, U2 shot back with an industrial-noise set called ‘Achtung Baby’ that set the course for their restless, ambitious career. They’re still following that exciting path.
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