Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Morning Videos: "Enter Sandman"

In a post down below, I labelled U2 as clearly the greatest rock and roll band of the past 25 years. I didn't think that could be seriously contested, but an anonymous commenter came back at me with Metallica, Van Halen, and AC/DC, suggesting that I need to "get off campus and talk to some real people." Now, for one thing, I think there's an important point to being clear about one's categories: "rock and roll" and "rock" and "pop" are all distinct--though obviously overlapping--genres, and so in talking about them, I'm not necessarily talking about hard rock and thrash and metal, about which I will admit to being less than a huge fan. For another thing, even ignoring all those boundaries, I still think a good case can be made for U2 on the merits. Still, all that being said, anonymous has a point--beyond college radio and the Top 40, Metallica, at least (I'm less sure about the other two he mentioned), has to be given its due. So here's their biggest hit--or, at least, the hit I remember best. It's basically just a concert performance video, but the twisted, fragmented, almost subliminal images scattered throughout it make it something more, adding to the strange kind of thrilling dread in which heavy metal excels. It's a great, head-banging bit of showmanship, that's for sure.

(Incidentally, my wife was a genuine head-banger, back in the day. But her preferred band was Rush.)


Rob Perkins said...

U2 made a sweet, sweet sound.

Melissa said...

And Boston, Guns-n-Roses, Bon Jovi, AC/DC, and Def Leopard. But Rush was something I'm not embarrassed to admit do. Notably, my brother was the Metallica fan.

U2, however, is not embarrassing, and they are much better musicians, overall, than many other bands. Except maybe Rush. But they give me a headache now...

Melissa said...

Def Leppard. Sorry. I should check my spelling before wandering down memory lane...

Anonymous said...

U2 is more embarrassing than many of their contemporaries.

U2 in 1980 (with a cringe-worthy mullet on Bono) --

AC/DC in 1980 --

Rush in 1980 --

Talking Heads in 1980 --

Joan Jett in 1980 --

The Clash in 1980 --

U2 was a product of its time, without creating music that transcended it. They were formative for a lot of geeky kids who thought the band was cool at the time (and, so, continue to think the same). But it's not enduring music. New generations will never feel compelled to go out and buy October or War in the way that they will Led Zeppelin IV, Axis: Bold as Love, The White Album, Exile on Main Street, etc.

U2 has remained a high-profile act for close to three decades. But without a legacy of influence, that's more a testament to their marketing skill than any monumental artistic genius on their part.

Russell Arben Fox said...

Holy cow, anonymous: you actually think Bono's mullet is more embarrassing than Joan Jett's hair? You've got to be kidding us. And incidentally, you're cheating by bringing up War or Boy and comparing them to the Rolling Stones' greatest album; back in the early 80s, U2 were still working through their post-punk/New Wave stage--it wasn't until Unforgettable Fire and Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum that they, in my view at least, embraced their existence as a straight-up rock and roll band.

Bob said...

Hi Russell. I said this would cause some arguments!

Not sure how anybody could include Van Halen or Metallica in the same breath as U2 whichever way you cut it.

The problem is, as you so rightly say, is categorizing what exactly is 'rock and roll' but the problem is that this title itself is too all embracing and it does get sub-categorised even further into 'hard rock', 'psychedelic rock' and so on.

One could of course take record sales as an indicator and this link might settle a few things or create even more furore. You will see that AC/DC are well up there which I mentioned last time - have to say that whilst I enjoy the stuff they produce, I remain a diehard Fleetwood Mac man. I suspect with AC/DC the sales figure is based primarily upon one album and that will almost certainly raise even more comments. Stick to your vew, Russell, but to convince others is going to take a lt of effort!