Neil McCormick in Hot Press

30 Sep 1981
October is a musical and spiritual growth for U-2, a passionate and moving LP for me...

From the growing cry of the opening song "Gloria", from a wistful echo to a glorious shout, it is made clear that U-2 have at last openly embraced in their music the Christian faith that has been running in more subtle form through the lyrics of "I Will Follow", "An Cat Dubh", and "Shadows..." and which has been mainstay of three members' lives, singer Bono, guitarist The Edge and drummer Larry. "We don't want to be the band that talks about God," said Bono at the end of last year. So instead they sing about God. "O Lord, if I had anything/Anything at all/I'd give it to you" he sings on "Gloria". What they have is their music...

"October" is a Christian LP. People will react to this fact in different ways: snide, disappointed, alienated, unconcerned, overtly happy. I accept it because at the core of U-2 is honesty, and therefore, the only way their music can continue to be successful is if they are honest. And honesty is...
"October" is a musical and spiritual growth for U-2, a passionate and moving LP for me. U-2 have evolved constantly, songs changing and growing over a period of time. "Boy" was an incredibly impressive LP because it caught a group who had grown for five years. "October" is the product of one more year, and so it isn't a leap into the unknown, rather a step forward, and a refinement of ideas.

"October" divides into its two sides, together making up a unified whole. Side one is the most immediately impressive, opening up with the inspiring "Gloria" and continuing through four more tracks of driving dance music.
The album logically closes with tracks that lift you out of the emotional confusion U-2 charge into elsewhere. "October" ends in celebration.
Is that all? "October" is an LP of exciting, emotional, spiritually inclined rock: the most uplifting rock LP of the year, a modern dance that studies no trends, relies on no false aura of cool. It is a Christian LP that avoids all the pedantic puritanism associated with most Christian rock, avoids the old world emotional fascism of organised religion and the crusading preaching of someone like born-again Bob Dylan. It is fortunate that the main spiritual issues dealt with can be related to a wider frame of reference than Christianity: man's struggle to know and control himself and his own nature is something that comes to everyone in some guise. And its celebratory sound has the same positive touch as gospel music, it rejoices, and that feels good.
(condensed from original review)
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