Am I Buggin’ ya?

Last night before going to bed we were listening to the audio portion of U2’s Rattle and Hum movie I transfered to my iPod. I like the movie audio better than the CD version. It’s less cleaned up and edited. It’s raw. It’s how they are live. Voice cracks (Sunday Bloody Sunday) and wrong notes stuck in the delay chain (In God’s Country) and all.

We got to thinking about political bands. Since U2 in the 80s has there really been a band in the spotlight that has been as successful or even close to that of U2? I am not sure that Green Day, et al counts with their one notably political record as they are not really a political band, per se. While it is laudable having a post 9-11/anyone-but-Bush attitude, it doesn’t really constitute being a political band, in my eyes. Any takers on this one?

On a side note, it’s amazing what they have accomplished in their lifetime. Hearing this audio of Rattle and Hum reminded me of how powerful they were (and still sort of are) – not in the sense of media saturation or money they net at concerts, but how their quite simple yet dense music influenced and inspired so many fledgling bands across the world not to mention moved many of people.

I once thought that Adam Clayton was the powerhouse behind U2. Sometimes I still do. There is no one who can produce thundering 1/8th notes like Adam. He means every one and it propels the band further with each note. I can’t begin to go on about the Edge’s guitar work. Besides his “on the verge of being a punk” mannerisms and playing style, his guitar work and sound produced something 20th Century rock music never had been heard before. Larry, the good looking drummer, had a timbale where a rack tom was supposed to go. That my friend is, punk rock. He also had the most resonant floor tom in all of the 80s and 90s recorded music. To this day I dream of tuning a floor tom that deep and ballsy. And Bono. Three Chords and the Truth. Well… you are Bono. You continue to amazing and piss off. I tend to stay on the amaze line.

So, please, by all means, remind us of what other successful political bands there have been since U2. Our brains farted last night.

7 Responses to “Am I Buggin’ ya?”


  • i would guess you’re success is defined as major label, selling out arena success?

    with that in mind .. all i can come up with would be a half guess of the beastie boys, who’ve mixed a bit of politics into alot of their work as they’ve matured as a group.

    Rage against the machine? but hell i could never stand them much, and they always seemed so manufactured, like they really were just being political to get noticed, whether they believed it or not. Plus i guess you can’t even say they’ve come close to the U2 type of success, also considering they’ve disbanded.

  • Selling out and major labels, etc doesnt have anything to do with success in my eyes… it is more about being a household name kind of thing… PS. And while U2 signed to CBS in 1978 (i believe), the majority of their records were on an indie (Island Records)

    I forgot about Rage Against the Machine… definitely a political band. I never thought of them as being manufactured at all… The guitarist is a very politically active person.

    Back to the Beastie Boys. I wouldn’t consider the Beastie Boys a political band. Would any one disagree? They definitely have politics in their songs, don’t get me wrong. But it’s like the similarly to my Green Day reference.

  • Yeah, by success, I mean widely known and accepted. And by political band, I mean one that really believed in change and breathed that message into (almost) every song. Being pissed off at the president every once in a while doesn’t count. My point was, after watching the Dylan documentary last week and thinking about how the “protest music” of that era really helped solidify the movement at that time, I was wondering if we would ever see that again. U2 had that same kind of visceral take on contemporary events in their music. But since then? Maybe music and musical outlets are too diversified to see that kind of thing on a broad scale again. I guess we saw it a little bit with the Free Tibet movement in the 90s. I dunno. I need inspiration.

  • I think I may be late in the game here (sorry I was away on business, and might i add, 8 days w/o e-mail is mega lame) but System of Down has always been political. They are my angry at the world band of choice. Anyway… Miss y’alls!

    Wap.

  • I think the Beastie Boys are very political, especially in the last 10 years what with their involvement with Free Tibet and the fact that their last album is pretty much focused on the recent war and Bush entirely.

  • I don’t think you’ll find another band in the past quarter century who has been more “successful” than U2. They’ve gone from four Irish dudes in a band to an international institution – probably in no small part to their politicized nature.

    The Clash preceded U2, and they were a political force to be reckoned with, but they didn’t tour with a multi-million dollar light/visual extravaganza. And R.E.M. released a sort of trilogy of politicized records back in the mid-80’s: Life’s Rich Pageant (’86), Document (’87), and Green (’88). But by the time they were as big as U2 in the early 90’s, they had moved on to pastoral, folksy pop, and Stipe had stopped singing through a bullhorn on stage.

    Then again, how “political” are U2? Are we meaning their activities outside of the music, or the individual songs themselves? Remember, they’ve written some great love songs in their time, and I can only think of a dozen or so with an obvious political agenda.

  • Tony Blair has inspired a few Radiohead songs over the past few years, and they’re quite involved with a number of causes.

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