Good God... where to begin. These 4 Dublin lads had a monopoly on 'cool' and never relinquished their throne. They are singularly responsible for constructing the mold of 'Anthem Rock' that bands like the Alarm, Big Country, Joan Jett, Simple Minds and New Model Army all fit nicely in to.
Legendary producer Steve Lillywhite built his massive reputation on U2's first 3 albums as well as some of the bands mentioned above. U2 just sounded larger than life with Bono's heartfelt vocals and the Edge's waterfall guitar licks as they killed us with "I Will Follow" in 1980, "Gloria" in 1981 and "Sunday Bloody Sunday"/"New Year's Day" (take your pick) in 1983. To this day, I contend that the greatest album ever made was "War" which was released in 1983.
The first time I ever saw U2 was the second time they ever visited the U.S. and it was to be their first show of this tour. I remember May... 1982 like it was yesterday when me and my 3 high-school pals drove to Chapel Hill, NC in the pouring rain to see a band no one at school had ever heard of.
Their performance was surreal as Bono grabbed a flag in the middle of "Sunday Bloody Sunday", wrapped his microphone around his neck and climbed up the lights along the side of the stage and then the along the lights over the stage. Once he reached the middle of the stage, he stood up, began waving the flag violently as he screamed "No More! No More! No More War!" in the pouring rain. This remains the single greatest concert experience of my life.
Well, blah blah, "Unforgettable Fire" and blah blah "Joshua Tree" and "Rattle and Hum", "Zooropa", "Achtung Baby" and the other albums, other hits, all the awards and all the press just kept coming. And coming. I could write a book, but that would be redundant at this point, right?!
U2 shifted my paradigm into sixth gear. The most phenomenal and jaw-dropping band of the 80's?! I dunno; you'll have to ask R.E.M.