IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (30)

I’m serious.

The earliest music and indeed live shows by U2 are a world-removed from the bombastic style over substance era which began, arguably, with their appearance at the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium in July 1985.

They certainly had come a long way in just six years, with their initial release being a 3-track EP on 12” vinyl, in a cheap record label sleeve, with a pressing limited to 1,000 copies, available only in Ireland (and for the most part, only in Dublin). The band were making a great impression on the local scene but struggling to be heard above everything that has happening in the UK in 1979 as post-punk/new wave became the flavour of the day for the industry bosses, albeit only as a way of trying to gain some critical credibility as the big monies were still being made from MOR chart fodder and disco (it’s worth remembering that CBS was the home to Abba as well as The Clash).

But, as David Byrne would come to sing, ‘How Did We Get Here?’

The abbreviated version is that they formed in 1976 while all still at school, going through a few personnel and name changes in the early years. They began life as a covers band, gradually incorporating more new wave/post-punk songs into their sets. In March 1978, they became a four-piece and took the name U2 and around the same time won a talent contest for which the prize was £500 and studio time to record a demo. They began to be hyped by Hot Press, a new fortnightly-published Irish music magazine and then approached by a 27-year old named Paul McGuinness who offered to be their full-time manager with the promise of booking gigs and studio time.

The band members were just 16-18 year old at the time and there is absolutely no doubt that without these developments, they would likely have sunk without much of a trace beyond the Dublin scene. Word of mouth that they were a great live act, with an energy not unlike many of the new UK bands who were making waves, ensured the youth of Dublin turned out in ever-increasing numbers. By August 1979 they were largely performing their own numbers and felt confident enough to return to the studio, determined that the mistakes made after the initial effort on the back of the talent contest the following year wouldn’t be repeated.

The said demo was three tracks and it was enough for CBS Ireland to show some interest. They offered to issue it on 12” vinyl but hedged their bets somewhat by making it a cheap release with just a generic sleeve and a run of 1,000 copies.

mp3 : U2 – Out Of Control
mp3 : U2 – Stories For Boys
mp3 : U2 – Boy-Girl

The initial 1,000 copies sold out quickly, and in due course the 12” would be re-pressed on at least seven occasions as well as appearing in 7” format, this time in a picture sleeve

Known as U2-3, it sold enough copies to go Top 20 in Ireland, leading to interest in the UK, with a London show in December 1979 being their first performance outside of Ireland. That particular show didn’t go well and so it was back to Ireland to think things over. The manager suggested a second single, which CBS Ireland were OK about releasing but without any further long-term commitment, as well as a tour which would culminate in a 2,000 capacity show in Dublin, one which would subsequently go down in local legend as one of the all-time great Dublin gigs.

Island Records swooped in as CBS continued to hum-and-haw. The rest, via a one-off single recorded in May 1980 with Martin Hannett, is history:-

mp3 : U2 – 11 O’Clock Tick Tock

The debut album, Boy, was released in October 1980. It included newly recorded versions of two of the songs that had appeared on the first release.

There is something about the early U2 releases which hinted they had something of a future, but I imagined at the time it would have been akin to so many other of the bands which emerged in the late 70s, namely a bright beginning followed by a fizzling away after a few albums. I had them down as being the Irish equivalent of The Skids…..

JC

FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT..WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (32)

index

index2

The Shoebox of Delights – #4a and 4b
The JBO Perspective 1988-1998/Two Gallants – What The Toll Tells

This week, I have cheated slightly, normally I just select the CD at the top of the pile – the order of the pile, incidentally changes on a daily basis, as my daughter likes to ‘look at the CD’s’ – by ‘look at’ she means throw around the room and use as plates for her teddies various tea parties.

I then try and somehow crow bar in a story from my past and tenuously (really tenuously) connect it to the CD.  Top of the pile this week was ‘What the Toll Tells’ by country rock duo Two Gallants – now much as I love them and this CD, the (only) story I can connect to it makes me angry, to the point where if I talk about it too much I’ll be in a bad mood all day…….

I was given that CD by a bloke called Gareth outside Derby County’s football stadium in March 2006. I used to be good mates with Gareth but one night in 2011 he got drunk on a night out in Exeter – later than evening as we returned to my house (he was staying in the spare room as he lived some distance away) and we all retired for the night. About 2am – Gareth walked into the marital suite of the house and asked me and the wife if we fancied a threesome. He was stark bollock naked and he then vomited on the carpet.  Before that moment I was interested.

I’m joking.

He was a Derby County fan, and to misquote the esteemed journalist Martin Kelner, I wasn’t about to interrupt 35 years of unblemished heterosexuality. Also he was dog ugly, when the Lord gave out looks, poor Gareth was cleaning the toilet. He left the house about seven minutes later. I haven’t seen him since – I did get a Facebook Friend Request off him about two years ago, but I ignored it. That probably makes me a bad person.

mp3 : Two Gallants – Las Cruces Jail

Other than this esteemed blog, one of my favourite places on the Internet is over at Drew’s place ‘Across the Kitchen Table’.

I love his perspective on life (and his utter hatred of ‘fucking decorating’) and the selection of music is terrific. If you haven’t checked it out – you can follow the link from T(n)VV.

One of the best features of the blog has been the series ‘It’s Friday….Let’s Dance’ – where every Friday, Drew selects a piece of classic dance music accompanied by a picture of a nubile young lady (or more often ladies) grooving. When you get to a certain age, little things like this can make your day. I think I have downloaded nearly track this year from the ‘Its Friday’ series – they sit in my own iPod in a Playlist simply called ‘Friday…’

I hope I am right when I say that Drew is a fan of the Junior Boy’s Own label – recently his blog featured a series of posts about some 12” records released on Boys Own – and it was excellent and contained some wonderful music. The CD second from bottom of the pile today – is ‘JBO – A perspective 1988 – 1998’ so I have picked that CD largely so I can wax lyrical about how good it and the label itself is – but also as a nod in Drew’s direction. Hope that is ok?

The album is not only a comprehensive selection (over two hours worth!) of JBO releases, it’s also a definitive collection of what was best about the ’80s-90s so far as dance and electronic music goes. Some of the absolute classics included on the disc are New Order’s “Everything’s Gone Green,” My Bloody Valentine’s “Soon,” The Chemical Brothers’ “Song to the Siren”, “Loaded” by Primal Scream and Underworld’s “Moaner.” It also includes some forgotten treasures such as ‘Fallen’ by One Dove and ‘Naked and Ashamed’ by Dylan Rhymes –on the negative side it includes at least one track by Simply Red – but that my friends is what the skip button was invented for. JBO was the label that took a lot of risks when they first started out and ended up being right at the front of an entire musical movement.

Enjoy

mp3 : U2 – Salome (Zooromancer Mix)
mp3 : Dylan Rhymes – Naked and Ashamed
mp3 : Bjork – Human Behaviour (Underworld Mix)
mp3 : One Dove – Fallen

S-WC

JC adds…………..

(1) I’m delighted that S-WC is appreciative of Drew’s work. His blog is one of the best and most original out there and I’m delighted that over the years, given we have some common tastes in fine music, we have been able to hook up at gigs and over the occasional social pint. He’s a top bloke….and I can vouch that he makes a very fine pasta.

(2) I love how the titles of the four tracks picked out from the JBO compilation can be linked to the tale told above

(3) I’ll say it….cos I know some of you will be thinking it and wondering if you’d get away with asking the question…..what would the answer have been if it had been OPG making the offer and not Gareth…..

 

WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAMME…..

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…..to send birthday greetings to the above handsome fella.

That’s my young brother – SC – who lives in Florida (where he moved back in the mid 80s…probably to escape my obsession with strange pop music). SC turns 49 today and while he is for the most part, a responsible doting dad and dedicated husband, he still has it in his head when he is out with the boys that he has the stamina, staying power and dance moves of his 19 year old self.

I didn’t get round to popping a card into the post for him last week, so he will have to make do with receiving his birthday wishes via T(n)VV – he is a daily reader and he has been known to leave the occasional comment.

My favourite musical memory with SC is of taking him to the Students’ Union at Strathclyde University to see Spear of Destiny. For the early part of the gig he stood next to me towards the back of the hall and then said he was going to move a little bit closer to the action. The next time I saw him, the band had gone off after their third encore and the lights had come up – there was SC stripped to the waist, sweating like he never had in his life before having just enjoyed a lengthy session in the mosh pit. He was ecstatic and his next pint of lager never touched the sides. Here’s to happy memories young bro’

mp3 : Spear of Destiny – Flying Scotsman
mp3 : Spear of Destiny – Rainmaker

I’ll also throw in a couple of songs from what has long been his favourite band. I know they come in for a fair bit of stick within the blogging community but they have done some decent stuff over the years:-

mp3 : U2 – The Fly
mp3 : U2 – Desire (Hollywood Mix)

Enjoy