"Three" - U2

Single

Side A

Side B

Background Information

“Three” was U2’s first single, released in Ireland on September 26, 1979 on both 7-Inch and 12-Inch vinyl. The first 12-Inch pressing was a limited edition of 1000 copies in a generic CBS Records sleeve. Each sleeve was stickered and hand-numbered in either blue or black ink. The 7-Inch single was released in a picture sleeve. Both formats featured “Out of Control” on Side A, with “Stories for Boys” and “Boy/Girl” on Side B.

The 12-Inch single went on to be re-pressed a number of times. These later pressings were in generic sleeves but were not numbered. The re-pressings became somewhat of a collector’s nightmare, with numerous subtle changes spread across each release. Most of the differences can be found on the center label of the record, or where the band members’ names are etched into the run-off area of the vinyl. On the original 12-Inch pressing, “Ireland” is spelled correctly and “Made in England” appears at the bottom of the label; “U2” is in a bold typeface; “stereo” is fully capitalized; and there is no “CBS inc.” on the bottom of the label. In addition, the band members’ names appear on both sides of the vinyl in the deadwax.

The second pressing introduced a misspelling, with “Ireland” becoming “Irelnad.” In addition, the font used for “U2” is less bold and “stereo” is no longer in all caps. These changes would persist on all subsequent re-pressings. The third and fourth pressings both change one additional item from the second pressing. The third pressing has the band members’ names on only one side of the vinyl (the b-side) in the deadwax. The fourth pressing once again has the band members’ names on both sides of the vinyl, but removes “Made in England” from the bottom of the center label. The fifth pressing saw the return of “Made in England” to the center label, but it was moved to the side, while the “CBS inc.” text was removed altogether.

The sixth and seventh pressings switched from the generic CBS Records sleeve to simple black generic sleeves, while the center labels on the vinyl continued to see changes. The sixth pressing keeps “Made in England” on the side of the label but returns “CBS inc.” to the bottom of the label. And finally, “Made in England” is removed again on the seventh pressing, while “CBS inc.” stays on the bottom of the label.

The 7-inch vinyl has also been reissued multiple times, including as part of the “4 U2 Play Pac,” which collected re-pressings of four of U2’s 7-inch singles in one package. These sets were released in 1982 and 1983. The vinyl included in these reissues came not only in black, but also yellow, orange, and white. Brown vinyl has also been identified, but this may be the result of a poor mix of colours for the white vinyl, or some bleed from another colour. The set contained the singles for “Three,” “11 O’Clock Tick Tock,” “Another Day,” and “I Will Follow.” Some later sets substituted “New Years Day” for one of the other singles when quantities ran short.

In 1985 a cassette version of “Three” was also released by CBS records in Ireland, although it featured the name “Out of Control” on the spine. These tracks were also released in digital form in 2004 with The Complete U2 on iTunes. They appeared on CD for the first time in 2008 on the bonus disc accompanying the remastered release of Boy. However, the 2008 release of Boy includes a demo version of “Stories for Boys”—from the Irish compilation Just for Kicks—instead of the version from “Three.” Both “Out of Control” and “Stories for Boys” were re-recorded for the Boy album.

Liner Notes

Produced by U2 and Chas De Whalley. Remixed by Robbie McGrath. Recorded at Windmill Lane Studio. Photography – Hugo. Glue-Art On My Sleeve. Men – Burgunday, Jackie Polo, Father Devlin. Boys – Teddy, Eric, The Village. Management – Paul McGuinness – Dublin 687952

Artwork

Photography – Hugo.

Recognition and Awards

  • Out of Control is #6 on Favorite Songs, Worldwide Poll of U2 fans (U2 Magazine, Issue 12, 1984)
  • “Three” listed at 89th / 100 on Sounds Magazine list of Singles of 1979

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