When U2’s Under A Blood Red Sky was originally released back in 1983, I have to be honest and say I wasn’t all that impressed with it. Not that I wasn’t a big fan – the fact is U2 were just about my favorite new band at the time.

Hard to think of U2 that way now isn’t it – as a “new band”?

The fact still remains that when U2 originally played the 1983 concert in the gorgeous setting of Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheatre that is one of the concerts captured on Under A Blood Red Sky, they hadn't quite conquered the world yet. They were however, well on their way.

What made Under A Blood Red Sky sort of an underwhelming record at the time was the fact that as U2’s first ever live release, it wasn’t a full length album but rather an E.P. The performance was a good one, perhaps even great. But it was also pretty damned short, and left you wanting more.

This new version, which is part of Island Records ongoing U2 remastering project that began earlier this year with the band's first three albums, Boy, October, and War, does little to change that. In fact it does nothing. There are no extra tracks here, nor any of the usual bells and whistles you would associate with a remastered recording by a band as major as U2. For those you’ll have to get the Live At Red Rocks DVD, which comes out the same day (September 30).

However, having said all that, hearing Under A Blood Red Sky again all these years later has forced me to reconsider my original opinion. Hearing U2 once again as the hungry young band they once were -- playing as though their lives depended on it is, I have to admit, a real treat.

Bono in particular is a house of fire here. What comes through most is the fact that Bono clearly knows how lucky he is to be here. You can hear it clearly on the great versions of classic U2 songs like "Gloria" and "I Will Follow" that are included here. In the performances captured here, there’s a fire burning deep within the collective belly of this band, and it definitely shows.

It's a little hard to believe that the wide-eyed mulleted kid heard here is the same Bono who would later have private audiences with presidents and popes, although the politics do creep into the mix on War's "Sunday Bloody Sunday," which Bono intros by saying "this song is not a rebel song."

Likewise, it's a bit strange to think that U2 was once regarded as a punk rock band. Especially since The Edge's ringing guitar powers the band's sound on this CD in a way that all but screams big arena rock. Still, the energy level approaches punk levels more often than not, and the rhythm section of bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen doesn't let up here for a second.

The bottom line is that as great a band as U2 remain, they've never really just all-out rocked the way they do here. Not in all the years since.

Under A Blood Red Sky is available both as a stand alone CD, and in a deluxe package with the DVD of Live At Red Rocks. For the full effect, I’d recommend the latter, but the CD has also aged much better than I expected it would. Both arrive in stores September 30.

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