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October (U2 album)

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Title: October (U2 album)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: U2, October (song), Boy (album), October Tour, Adam Clayton
Collection: 1981 Albums, Albums Produced by Steve Lillywhite, English-Language Albums, Island Records Albums, U2 Albums
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October (U2 album)

Studio album by U2
Released 12 October 1981 (1981-10-12)
Genre Rock, post-punk
Length 41:05
Label Island
Producer Steve Lillywhite
U2 chronology
Singles from October
  1. "Fire"
    Released: July 1981
  2. "Gloria"
    Released: October 1981

October is the second studio album by Irish rock band U2. It was produced by Steve Lillywhite, and released on 12 October 1981 on Island Records. Inspired by Bono's, the Edge's, and Larry Mullen, Jr.'s memberships in a Christian group called the "Shalom Fellowship", the record features spiritual and religious themes. Their involvement with Shalom Fellowship led them to question the relationship between the Christian faith and the "rock and roll" lifestyle, and threatened to break up the group.[1]

After completing the Boy Tour in February 1981, U2 began to write new material for October, eventually entering the studio in July 1981. Just as they did for their debut album, Boy, from the previous year, the group recorded at Windmill Lane Studios with Lillywhite producing. The sessions were complicated by Bono's loss of a briefcase containing in-progress lyrics for the new songs, forcing a hurried, improvisational approach to completing the album on time.

October was preceded by the release of lead single "Fire" in July 1981, while a second single, "Gloria", coincided with the album release. The record received mixed reviews and limited radio play. In 2008, a remastered edition of October was released.


  • Recording 1
  • Composition 2
  • Release 3
  • Reception 4
  • Track listing 5
  • 2008 remastered edition 6
    • Bonus CD 6.1
  • Charts and certifications 7
  • Personnel 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10


After completing their Boy Tour in February 1981, U2 began to write new material. ("Fire" had already been recorded at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas while U2 took a break from the Boy Tour.) They wrote part of October during an extended sound check at First Avenue in Minneapolis.[2] The band entered the studio in July 1981 to record October, but the album's recording sessions were complicated when the briefcase containing Bono's lyrics was lost after a show in Portland, Oregon. The band already booked studio time through the end of August and thus had to continue recording in spite of this, even improvising lyrics on some songs. Bono said of the recording process of October, "I remember the pressure it was made under, I remember writing lyrics on the microphone, and at £50 an hour, that's quite a pressure. Lillywhite was pacing up and down the studio... he coped really well. And the ironic thing about October is that there's a sort of peace about the album, even though it was recorded under that pressure. A lot of people found October hard to accept at first, I mean, I used the word 'rejoice' precisely because I knew people have a mental block against it. It's a powerful word, it's lovely to say. It's implying more than 'get up and dance, baby.' I think October goes into areas that most rock 'n' roll bands ignore. When I listen to the album, something like 'Tomorrow,' it actually moves me."[3] The briefcase was eventually recovered in October 2004, and Bono greeted its return as "an act of grace".[4]


"Influences, primarily Joy Division, Invisible Girls. A great example of how you can write a song and not know what you're writing about. A song called 'Tomorrow' is a detailed account of my mother's funeral. But I had no idea when I was writing it."


The record placed an emphasis on religion and spirituality, particularly in the songs "Gloria" (featuring a Latin chorus of "Gloria, in te domine"), "With a Shout (Jerusalem)", and "Tomorrow". About the album, Bono declared in 2005: "Can you imagine your second album—the difficult second album—it's about God?".[6]

The songs mainly refine U2's formula of riff-rockers with songs such as "Gloria" and "Rejoice", but the band also expanded its musical palette in a few ways. In particular, guitarist The Edge incorporates piano in songs such as "I Fall Down", "Stranger In a Strange Land", "Scarlet", and "October". "Tomorrow", a lament to Bono's mother, who died when he was young, features Uilleann pipes played by Vinnie Kilduff later of In Tua Nua.[7] "I Threw a Brick Through a Window" was one of the band's first songs to highlight drummer Larry Mullen, Jr., while "Gloria" highlights bassist Adam Clayton as it features three styles of playing in one song (using a pick for the most part, playing with fingers during the slide guitar by The Edge, then a "slap & pop" solo towards the end).

"Is That All?" borrows the riff from "Cry", an older song the band has used as an introduction to "The Electric Co." live.


October was released, appropriately, on 12 October,[8] 1981. Both of the album's two singles preceded the album's release; "Fire" and "Gloria" were released as singles in July and October 1981, respectively.

October was the start of U2's vision of the music video as an integral part of the band's creative work, as it was released during a time that MTV was first becoming as popular as radio. The video for "Gloria" was directed by Meiert Avis and shot in the Canal Basin in Dublin.

In 2008, a remastered edition of the album was released, featuring remastered tracks, along with B-sides and rarities. Three different formats of the remaster were made available.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic [9]
The Austin Chronicle [10]
The A.V. Club B+[11]
Christgau's Record Guide B–[12]
Entertainment Weekly B[13]
Pitchfork Media 7.1/10[14]
Rolling Stone [15]
Sounds [16]
Spin Alternative Record Guide 8/10[17]

Upon its release, October received more mixed reviews than its predecessor. Dave McCullough of Sounds praised the album and said: "A kind of zenith pop then, no half measures. It all breathes fire, recovering too from the pair of standouts appearing at the start of each side - 'Gloria' being possibly Their Finest Moment and 'Tomorrow', low and muted, gently oozing emotion". McCullough concluded, "This October will last forever".[16] Adam Sweeting of Melody Maker also wrote a favorable review, saying: "Their whole musical sensibility is shaped by a strong emotional bond to their homeland and its traditions. It gives them a completely different frame of reference from most groups, and on 'October' it's given them the strength to assimilate a barrage of disorientation and to turn that into a cohesive body of music."[18]

In contrast, NME published a negative review and noted the "excessive plaintiveness of Bono's voice and the forced power of U2's sound". Reviewer Barney Hoskyns concluded: "Obviously rock doesn't expire just because groups run out of ways to change it... U2, I guess, will continue to 'move' in live performance, but they will only move on the lightest surface. Their music does 'soar'... But then 'God' knows, there are other religions".[19]

Track listing

All songs written and composed by U2. 

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Gloria"   4:14
2. "I Fall Down"   3:39
3. "I Threw a Brick Through a Window"   4:54
4. "Rejoice"   3:37
5. "Fire"   3:51
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Tomorrow"   4:39
2. "October"   2:21
3. "With a Shout (Jerusalem)"   4:02
4. "Stranger in a Strange Land"   3:56
5. "Scarlet"   2:53
6. "Is That All?"   2:59
Total length:

2008 remastered edition

On 9 April 2008, confirmed that October, along with the band's other first three albums, Boy and War would be re-released as newly remastered versions.[20] The remastered album was released on 21 July 2008 (2008-07-21) in the UK, with the U.S. version following it the next day. The cover artwork for the remastered version was changed to crop the whitespace and track names. The remaster of October was released in three different formats:[20]

  1. Standard format: A single CD with re-mastered audio and restored packaging. Includes a 16 page booklet featuring previously unseen photos, full lyrics and new liner notes by Neil McCormick. The 11-tracks match the previous release of the album.
  2. Deluxe format: A standard CD (as above) and a bonus CD. The bonus CD includes five live tracks from Hammersmith Palais, three live tracks from the BBC, the "A Celebration"/"Trash, Trampoline and the Party Girl" single released after October, the two b-sides from the album's singles, four additional live tracks from the Boston Paradise show and two other rarities. Also includes a 32-page booklet with previously-unseen photos, full lyrics, new liner notes by Neil McCormick, and explanatory notes on the bonus material by The Edge.
  3. Vinyl format: A single album re-mastered version on 180 gram vinyl with restored packaging.

Bonus CD

All songs written and composed by U2. 

No. Title Original broadcast/release Length
1. "Gloria" (Live at Hammersmith Palais, London on 6 December 1982) BBC Radio 1 (8 January 1983) 4:43
2. "I Fall Down" (Live at Hammersmith Palais, London on 6 December 1982) BBC Radio 1 (8 January 1983) 3:02
3. "I Threw a Brick Through a Window" (Live at Hammersmith Palais, London on 6 December 1982) BBC Radio 1 (8 January 1983) 3:52
4. "Fire" (Live at Hammersmith Palais, London on 6 December 1982) BBC Radio 1 (8 January 1983) 3:32
5. "October" (Live at Hammersmith Palais, London on 6 December 1982) BBC Radio 1 (8 January 1983) 2:22
6. "With a Shout" (BBC session on 3 September 1981) BBC Radio 1 (broadcast 8 September 1981) 3:34
7. "Scarlet" (BBC session on 3 September 1981) BBC Radio 1 (broadcast 8 September 1981) 2:46
8. "I Threw a Brick Through a Window" (BBC session on 3 September 1981) BBC Radio 1 (broadcast 8 September 1981) 4:18
9. "A Celebration"   "A Celebration" single 2:57
10. "J. Swallo"   "Fire" single 2:20
11. "Trash, Trampoline and the Party Girl"   "A Celebration" single 2:36
12. "I Will Follow" (Live at The Paradise, Boston on 6 March 1981) "Gloria" single 3:44
13. "The Ocean" (Live at The Paradise, Boston on 6 March 1981) "Fire" single 2:15
14. "The Cry / The Electric Co." (Live at The Paradise, Boston on 6 March 1981) "Fire" single (without "Send in the clowns") 4:28
15. "11 O'Clock Tick Tock" (Live at The Paradise, Boston on 6 March 1981) "Fire" single 4:57
16. "I Will Follow" (Live from Hattem on 14 May 1982) "I Will Follow" (Live) single 3:52
17. "Tomorrow" (Common Ground remix) Common Ground compilation album 4:36
Total length:

Charts and certifications

Chart Position Certification
United Kingdom 11[21] Platinum[22]
United States 104[23] Platinum[24]


See also


  1. ^ Flanagan (1995), pages 46–48
  2. ^ Keller, Martin (4 August 1999). "Young Spuds in a Longhorn Daze". City Pages. Village Voice Media. p. 2. Retrieved 16 November 2009. 
  3. ^ "U2 at the RDS". U2 Magazine, No. 2. 1 February 1982. Retrieved 5 November 2007. 
  4. ^ "U2 lyrics returned after 23 years". BBC News. 22 October 2004. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  5. ^ Wenner, Jann (3 November 2005). "Bono on the Records".  
  6. ^ News: Transcript: U2's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Speeches
  7. ^ McGee, Matt (2008). U2:A Diary. Omnibus Press. p. 76.  
  8. ^ "October (1981)".  
  9. ^  
  10. ^ Hess, Christopher (30 March 2001). "Record Reviews – The U2 Catalog: October".  
  11. ^ Hyden, Steven (28 July 2008). "U2".  
  12. ^  
  13. ^ Wyman, Bill (29 November 1991). "U2's Discography".  
  14. ^ Tangari, Joe (24 July 2008). "U2: Boy / October / War".  
  15. ^  
  16. ^ a b McCullough, Dave (24 October 1981). "Bono Fide [album review]".  
  17. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995).  
  18. ^ Adam Sweeting. "The Art Of Survival [album review]". Melody Maker. 10 October 1981
  19. ^ Hoskyns, Barney. "Fade to Grey [album review]. NME. 10 October 1981
  20. ^ a b "Boy, October, War: Remastered". 9 April 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2008. 
  21. ^ "U2 albums". Retrieved 23 January 2010.  Note: U2 must be searched manually.
  22. ^ "Certified Awards Search".   Note: U2 must be searched manually.
  23. ^ "U2: Charts and Awards".  
  24. ^ "Gold and Platinum Database Search".   Note: U2 must be searched manually.
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