Driving to Midnight Mass


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Driving to Midnight Mass Review

by David Ross Smith

Frantic garage rock with punk overtones, U2's compositions on Driving to Midnight Mass were recorded as demo tapes prior to recording their debut album, Boy. The band members were as young as 15 or 16 years old when they cut some of these demos. Although the sound quality of this bootleg release is adequate, it lacks clarity and dynamic range. Midnight Mass also suffers from monotony, as each song sounds like the next and all are similarly structured. The one standout cut is the opener, "Driving to Midnight Mass on Dublin Christmas Eve." Here, Bono reads a poem by Irishman John F. Dean; the background music is comprised of strains of what would later become "New Year's Day."

On a good note, the band is tight and confident throughout the songs, with Edge (guitar) and Larry Mullen, Jr. (drums) particularly strong. U2's sound is interesting if not altogether unique. Being demo tapes, the music is devoid of the polished production and textured, effects-laden guitar work so prominent on later projects. Aside from the three songs that ended up on Boy ("Twilight," "Out of Control," "Another Time, Another Place"), Midnight Mass also includes five previously unreleased songs: "The Full," "Lost in the Silent Planet," "Alone in the Light," "I Realised," and the title track.

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