"A Celebration" - U2


Track Listing:

Background Information

Released in the UK on March 22, 1982, “A Celebration” was a non-album single designed to fill the gap between the October and War albums. The song would never appear on an actual U2 album, and has remained fairly obscure throughout the band’s career. “A Celebration” was issued on 7-inch vinyl in all areas of release. (In addition to the UK, it also appeared throughout Europe, and in Japan, Australia and New Zealand. There was no release in North America.) In most regions, the sleeve had a small square center area surrounding a circle with a sunburst pattern above the text. Behind the square is an interference pattern made by parallel straight black lines covered with concentric circular brown lines. In France, only the center logo over a white background was used for the sleeve. In Japan, a photo of the band was added, as well as some Japanese text.

“A Celebration” was recorded quickly as U2 came off the second leg of The October Tour. The Edge would later remark that the song may have suffered a bit as a result of the band’s post-tour intensity and the fact that they had not yet “come down” enough to properly record in a studio again. The B-side in most areas was “Trash, Trampoline, and the Party Girl” which is more commonly known as simply “Party Girl.” It was written and recorded in just 40 minutes. The single was produced by Steve Lillywhite, and recording and mixing of the single took place in Basing Street Studios in London, finishing up just before the US leg of the tour was due to start. In Japan, the B-side was the album version of “Fire.”

“A Celebration” was the third song for which U2 filmed a music video. Like the previous two clips (”I Will Follow“ and “Gloria“), it was directed by Meiert Avis. The video was shot at Kilmainham Gaol, a jail in Dublin. It primarily features Bono running about the building and dancing down the stairs, along with other band members performing around the Kilmainham grounds. Special effects include shots of the band members running through a doorway accompanied by bursts of “starlight” and walking through foggy rooms and corridors. There is also footage of buildings being destroyed and children riding horses through an apocalyptic landscape interspersed throughout the clip. The video has not been collected on any commercial U2 release.

Live, “A Celebration” was introduced in February of 1982, but was only played on a handful of dates on the October and War tours. It was last performed on November 30, 1983 in Tokyo, Japan. There have been no live recordings of “A Celebration” officially released. “Party Girl,” on the other hand, became a live staple for the band. Introduced during the early shows of The War Tour, it remained in the set list throughout and was also performed regularly during the tours in support of The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree. “Party Girl” is now used as a celebratory song in concert. It appeared three times during The Lovetown Tour, four times during both the Zoo TV and Elevation Tours, twelve times on The Vertigo Tour, twice on the U2360° Tour, and three times on the Innocence and Experience Tour. Multiple live recordings of “Party Girl” have been released officially: a June 5, 1983 performance from Denver on the Under a Blood Red Sky album and U2 Live at Red Rocks video; a July 4, 1987 performance from Paris on the iTunes-only Live from Paris and the DVD accompanying the super-deluxe reissue of The Joshua Tree; and a December 31, 1989 performance from Dublin, Ireland on the Love: Live from the Point Depot section of The Complete U2 on iTunes. In 2011, members of the U2 Fan Club were given the opportunity to vote on 46 live tracks recorded during The U2360° Tour, with the top 22 songs to be included on a live album, U22. “Party Girl” was one of these choices. In the end, however, the song did not receive enough votes to appear on the final live compilation. The following year, the Edge picked his favorite tracks from the remaining 46 live tracks, and once again the track was not chosen for inclusion on From the Ground Up: Edge’s Picks. It was also not included among bonus digital downloads, and remains unreleased.

“A Celebration” has never appeared on a commercial compilation by U2. It was released on some versions of the “Pride“ single, but did not debut on CD until 2008, with the remastered deluxe version of October. “Party Girl” has made several appearances, however, including The Best of 1980-1990 & B-Sides collection, as well as the Medium, Rare & Remastered fan club release. It, too, features on the remastered deluxe edition of October.

Liner Notes

Produced by Steve Lillywhite.

Recognition and Awards

  • #1 in Best Video Category (1982 Hot Press Awards, Hot Press Magazine)
  • #2 in Best Single Category (1982 Hot Press Awards, Hot Press Magazine)
  • #14 in Top 50 Favorite Songs Listeners Poll (RTE Radio 2, Christmas 1983)
  • #7 in Favorite Songs, Worldwide Poll of U2 Fans (U2 Magazine, Issue 12, 1984)

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