Notes: A Deluxe Edition released in 2008 added a second disc of “b-sides, live tracks and rarities. Also includes a 32 page booklet with previously unseen photos, full lyrics, new liner notes by Paul Morley, and explanatory notes on the bonus material by The Edge.” (Amazon.com).
Tracks on second disc: 1. I Will Follow [previously unreleased mix] 2. 11 O’Clock Tick Tock 3. Touch 4. Speed of Life 5. Saturday Night 6. Things to Make and Do 7. Out of Control 8. Boy-Girl 9. Stories for Boys 10. Another Day 11. Twilight 12. Boy-Girl [live] 13. 11 O’Clock Tick Tock [live] 14. Cartoon World [live]
“There’s little in U2’s 1980 debut to suggest that this was a band bent on world domination” (McCulley) although even “from the outset, U2 went for the big message” (Erlewine). The “charming, if naive, coming-of-age urgency in songs such as I Will Follow, Stories for Boys and Out of Control …may startle listeners more familiar with U2’s latter-day bombast and stadium-scale theatrics” (McCulley). Still, “every song on…Boy sounds huge, with oceans of processed guitars cascading around Bono’s impassioned wail” (Erlewine). “The driving ‘I Will Follow,’ the dark An Cat Dubh, and the shimmering The Ocean stand out among the sonic textures” (Erlewine). “It was an inspired combination of large, stadium-rock beats and post-punk textures” (Erlewine).
“If the Edge’s dense, effects-laden guitar work seems overly familiar, it’s only because this album was such a key influence on the whole ‘rock of the ‘80s’ sound” (McCulley). “Without the Edge’s echoed, ringing guitar, U2 would have sounded like a traditional hard rock band, since the rhythm section and Bono treat each song as an anthem” (Erlewine).
“Bono’s viewpoint, still tantalizingly vague and wide-eyed, showed that his penchant for strident polemics hadn’t yet gotten the best of him; his anthems are those of a yearning Dubliner barely out of his teens rather than those of a world-weary multimillionaire. The band’s sometimes-ragged musical chops work in its favor here, gently burnished to then-fresh new-wave sheen by producer Steve Lillywhite” (McCulley).
“Of course, that’s the charm of Boy: all of its emotions are on the surface, delivered with optimistic, youthful self-belief, yet the unusual, distinctive guitar textures give it an unexpected tension that makes it an exhilarating debut” (Erlewine). “The songs may occasionally show some weakness yet the band’s musical and lyrical vision keep Boy compelling until the finish” (Erlewine). “Though not quite as moody or musically accomplished as October, arguably the band’s first masterpiece, Boy still ranks as one of U2’s best albums” (McCulley).