This is a review of the book Where The Streets Have 2 Names by Patrick Brocklebank.
It is always interesting to look back at the early days of the band, the not-so-mysterious times in the late 1970s and early 1980s when they came together, created, did interesting things and formed themselves as a band that would go on to rule the world. The story out of that time is that there were a number of bands in Dublin in those days, and little reason why U2 would go on to superstardom while the rest would fall by the wayside. Now, you and I know that it was talent that got them where they are, something the rest didn’t, and it’s always funny to hear the revisionists talk, saying that there were other bands that were better than U2. Baloney. If they were they would have succeeded. Maybe they were better players for a time, but they weren’t better at having the drive that U2 had.
The title of the book, Where The Streets Have 2 Names, refers according to the author to the practice in Dublin of having the street signs in both English and Irish. This make perfect sense, and it also helps to make the pun from the name of the U2 song. I don’t blame him for this, it is kind of creative, and certainly makes the point more clearly about the name than anything you’ve heard about the song making the point. Yeah, that’s not very clear, is it? I mean that the song title has so many interpretations that it’s nice that this book has just one.
The subtitle for this book is ‘U2 and the Dublin music scene 1978-1981.” The author was a photographer at the time and pulled out a bunch of photos from his archive to create the book. Let me be clear in saying that the only reason this book exists is the U2 connection, there is little or no reason for it otherwise. Since he took photos of some of the first U2 gigs, that is enough to make a book apparently. And I also should be clear, there is not that much U2 content in the book. I went in expecting much more, and I have not counted but I would guess there’s something like a quarter of the pages talk about U2. Sure, there are some photos of the band that I have never seen before, and that might make it worth it to you, but overall not necessarily. If you’re interested in a bunch of other bands from that time, then it might be worth it. Imagine anyone you’ve heard of from Dublin in those days, they are likely to be in here. Imagine a lot of others that never did anything, they’re in here too.
There is an afterword which is a couple of pages of the whole history of the band, but it is essentially worthless, no new information in it, and in fact it is largely out of tone to the rest of the book, because it talks about U2 up to the present day (2013, when the book was published) and I think it is only in there to add a little more for the U2 fans buying the book.
My rating for Where The Streets Have 2 Names: 3 / 10