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George Byrne: The best band in 25 years - who are U2 kidding?

NOW that they've finished up their record-breaking world tour, you'd imagine that U2 would be glad to head off to whatever private islands, volcano lairs or space stations they own for a bit of a holiday. But no.

Not only did they find time to show up for the birthday bash of their buddy Bill Clinton but they looked more than chuffed with themselves when feted by Q magazine as 'the best rock band of the past 25 years'.

Hmm, the 'only rock band who've stayed together for the past 25 years and could be arsed coming to this poxy ceremony' might have a slightly more unwieldy ring about it but would be considerably more accurate. It's somehow appropriate that Q, a magazine which ceased being in any way credible well over a decade ago, should bestow such an accolade on U2, a band who were never relevant at all in the greater scheme of things.

Certainly they've been phenomenally successful on a commercial level -- and well done to them for that -- and have racked up a handful of decent singles -- but that's as far as it goes.



STRANGLEHOLD

In terms of influence they've had nothing but a malign effect on countless bands, Simple Minds being the most obvious case, encouraging stadium-scale bombast which suits U2's non-specific 'message' but has left others trailing in their wake.

When they released their last album, the truly awful No Line on the Horizon (which should really have been called No Tunes on the Record), one deluded journalist, described the songs as 'holy texts' and it got five stars from, oh look, Q magazine.

They somehow managed to exert a stranglehold on the BBC, when they spent a full day in Broadcasting House and quite rightly, caused outrage among neutral listeners.

Still, why worry that you were sold a pup by the band when you can spend more money on the anniversary edition of Achtung Baby -- an uber-deluxe version of which will set you back 250 quid ... sterling.

Still with the eyes on the money, eh Bono?

So, the 'best band of the past 25 years'?

Alas, they broke up last month. And were called REM.