Fast and loud and a whole lot of fun, The Electric Co. is one of those early songs where the band didn’t have their talents to play it, but stuck with it and turned it into one of those songs that have stuck around. It’s been played on so many tours, was a standard in the early days, brought back for Vertigo and now is appearing on the Innocence + Experience tour again. And if you haven’t seen it there, go check out the @U2 YouTube page, because it and so many other songs are there and so good.
When I say that they didn’t have their talents to play it, what I mean is something I’ve said a few times this year, that they were very rough and ready for their first album, as they naturally would be. They were playing simple songs, they were sometimes playing fast, or loud, or simple, because that’s what they could do. They weren’t layering on the sound, they weren’t doing different things with pedals or tape or electronics or whatever. They were just playing and recording, and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. When it worked it went really well, and The Electric Co. was one of those songs that worked despite the band’s early limitations. And as time has gone on they have added to it, played it up and in different ways, keeping the base of the song but
One of the things I have always wondered is why the song seems to fade when it’s nearly at the end, and then come back up just to finish off. I think it only does it in the album version, so I don’t know what the point was, if anything. For all I know it was just a recording error when they taped it, or when it was put onto the album.
You might be forgiven for thinking that it had something to do with The Electric Company, a children’s show produced by PBS, but of course it is not. I do sometimes conflate the two though, at least in my recall, in that sometimes when I hear the term “electric company” I will think of the children’s show and sometimes I will think of the song.
Linked with The Cry in live versions, and in my memory of the song. For the longest time the two songs played together, and as I said in my review of The Cry, I used to think that The Cry was actually part of The Electric Co. Not, but they work so well as a pairing that they may as well be. Probably the best version of the pairing is on Under A Blood Red Sky, although for some reason The Cry does not get a credit there. There’s also a live version on the October deluxe album, not sure why since the song wasn’t on October, other than that they collected several early live songs on there.
My rating for The Electric Co.: 6 / 10