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 Neil McCormick, and explanatory notes on the bonus material by The Edge.” (Amazon.com).
Tracks on second disc: 1. Gloria [live] 2. I Fall Down [live] 3. I Threw a Brick Through a Window [live] 4. Fire [live] 5. October [live] 6. With a Shout (Jerusalem) [BBC Session] 7. Scarlet [BBC Session] 8. I Threw a Brick Through a Window [BBC Session] 9. A Celebration 10. J. Swallow 11. Trash, Trampoline, and the Party Girl 12. I Will Follow [live] 13. The Ocean [live] 14. Cry/ The Electric Co. [live] 15. 11 O’Clock Tick Tock [live] 16. I Will Follow [live] 17. Tomorrow [1996 Common Ground remix]
Opinion differs on whether U2 took a step forward or backward on their second album. One argument is that “October not only avoids the sophomore slump, but adds an edgy, emotional resonance to the buoyant self-confidence they showed on their debut, Boy” (McCulley). On the other hand, one might say that “U2 sounded so confident and assured on their debut that perhaps it was inevitable they would stumble slightly on its follow-up, October” (Erlewine).
The former argument posits that “this is the music where Bono, Edge, and company first show the potential that would make them superstars” (McCulley) and that they hadn’t yet succumbed to the “ham-fisted polemics that would mar War, The Joshua Tree, and later works” (McCulley).
However, the latter argument says that the band already is trying “too hard to move forward. Bono, in particular, tries too hard to make big political, emotional, and religious statements, but the remainder of the band isn’t innocent. In general, the music is too pompous, with the sound overwhelming the actual songs” (Erlewine).
Regardless of which take one has on the album, “producer Steve Lillywhite deserves mention for helping effectively frame the material with production that manages to be both stark and atmospherically murky” (McCulley). There also seems to be agreement that “when U2 do marry the message, melody, and sound together…the results are thoroughly impressive” (Erlewine). “October has an oft-tortured sense of emotional and philosophical ambivalence that only underscores concerns that range from the crypto-spiritualist yearnings of Gloria and Rejoice to more anxious moments like I Fall Down, I Threw a Brick Through a Window, and Fire” (McCulley).