"U218 Singles" - U2

Compilation Album

Track Listing:

Alternate Tracks:

Background Information

The third compilation of hits from U2’s career arrived in 2006, and was called “U218 Singles”. Unlike the previous two compilations “The Best of 1980 – 1990” and “The Best of 1990 – 2000” this compilation did not feature tracks from just one specific time frame, but included songs from U2’s entire career from 1979 onward. There are 18 songs on the album, leading to the name of the compilation “U218 Singles”. Of these songs, two were new compositions, “The Saints Are Coming” and “Window in the Skies” and both of those were released as singles.

In September 2006, U2 had just released the book “U2 by U2” which documented their career from their perspective, and which was sitting on the New York Times list of non-fiction best sellers. The book featured an old image of U2 with text in white and orange listing “U2 by U2”. On September 6th, writer Michka Assayas broke the news that Bono had told him the band were going into the studio to record an old song by the Skids called “The Saints Are Coming” and that it would be recorded with Green Day with Rick Rubin producing. The following week it was announced U2 would appear with Green Day to perform the song in concert for the first NFL game in the Superdome since the flooding by Hurricane Katrina. On September 13, U2 were in the studio with Green Day recording the song with Rubin, and they also took some time to do a photo shot in front of Abbey Studios where they were recording, in the famous crosswalk there. Also during this time U2 recorded “Window in the Skies” with Rubin.

On October 1, it was leaked that U2 were readying a new “Best of” album and that the new song would be on the album. A few days later the reason became aparant as reports started circulating that U2 were about to leave Island Records in Europe, for a new home at Mercury, and a third compilation had been promised to Island under the old contract the band had signed. The name, the cover, and the track listing would filter out over the month of October. The cover of the “U218 Singles” album uses the same photo as the “U2 by U2” book, as well as the same font for titles, and was designed by Shaughn McGrath and Steve Averill. A “U218 Videos” DVD would also be later released tying into these other two projects.

There were a number of variations of the album released including a 12-inch vinyl, Cassette in limited regions, 5-inch CD (Single Disc), and a 5-inch CD Deluxe Set with bonus DVD. The bonus DVD featured ten songs live in concert, recorded at a concert in Milan Italy in July 2005 and titled “Vertigo 05: Live from Milan”. As well, in the UK, Australia and Japan, a 19th track featured on the CD, “I Will Follow”. Instead of being added onto the end of the album it is the first song on each of these releases.

There were a number of digital releases, some of which came with exclusive material. At iTunes, the regular album could be pre-ordered in most countries, and when it was delivered, it came with the bonus song “Smile”, taken from “The Complete U2”. There was a deluxe version available on iTunes as well which included nine of the live tracks from Milan released in audio format. The USA version of the iTunes release comes with “Smile” even if the album was not pre-ordered. In most iTunes stores, the deluxe version came with a digital booklet in pdf format as well, however, this was not released in the USA iTunes store. The missing track from the Milan concert, “Original of the Species” was later made available as a standalone single in some regions. In the Italian Deejay online store, all ten tracks from the Milan concert were made available in audio format.

Most of the tracks included on the album are the same as what is found on the original releases. However, “New Year’s Day” is the shortened version that first showed up in Japan on a single, and later was used on “The Best of 1980 – 1990”. The mix used of “Where the Streets Have No Name” is also a new edit. “Sweetest Thing” is the single version from 1998, and not the original recording of the song. And “Walk On” is the “Video Version” of the song.

Two singles were released to promote the compilation, each of the new songs was released. “The Saints Are Coming” was the first single released, in advance of the album. “Window in the Skies” was released in January 2007, and was the final single from the album. At the time of the release of the “U218 Singles” compilation, U2 was also on tour, on the final leg of the rescheduled Vertigo tour. Both of the new songs were incorporated into the setlist, and at the final concert in Honolulu, Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day joined U2 in concert to perform “The Saints Are Coming”.

The compilation was released to generally favorable reviews, although there was some grumbling coming just four years after the last compilation, and convering some of the same material. The album debuted at number one in a handful of countries, and debuted at #4 in the UK albums chart, and #12 in the US Billboard Top 200 chart.

Liner Notes

Bono: Vocals. The Edge: Guitar. Adam Clayton: Bass Guitar. Larry Mullen Jr.: Drums and Percussion. Paul McGuinness: Manager, Principle Management, Dublin and New York.
Studio Manager / Drum Tech: Sam O’Sullivan. Studio Tech: Rab McAllister. Guitar Tech: Dallas Schoo. Assistant Engineer: Chris Heaney. Album Production Managers: Steve Matthews and Candida Bottaci. Audio Post-Production: Cheryl Engels at Partial Productions Inc. Mastering: Arnie Acosta at Bernie Grundman Mastering, Hollywood. Mastering Assistance and Protools Engineer: Scott Sedillo. Technical Support: Thomas “Beno” May


Designed by Shaughn McGrath at Four5One Creative, Dublin. Consultant: Steve Averill. Front cover photography: David Corio, Cork, 1980. Back Cover Photograph: Anton Corbijn, Dublin, 1986. Back cover of Booklet: Photography by Paul Slattery, Dublin, 1980.

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