"Early Demos" - U2

Digital EP

Track Listing:

Background Information

In 2004 U2 worked with Apple’s iTunes store to put together a “digital box set” of U2 Recordings entitled “The Complete U2.” The set was only available through the iTunes music store for download, and included material from the first EP “Three” right through the most recent single “Vertigo”, including albums, singles and EPs. The initial launch of the set included 446 songs. The set retailed for $149.99 in the US, and a $50 coupon for the set was included in U2 Edition iPods which had also gone on sale in November 2004. Also included in the set were several rare recordings that were grouped together as albums. These “digital albums” were accompanied by new artwork designed by Four5One, the creative design firm which has done much of U2’s graphic design through the years. These album covers were embedded in each song on the “digital album” as well as being showcased in the digital booklet, designed by Shaughn McGrath, which accompanied the set in pdf format.

These rarities included in “The Complete U2” were marked as “album only” when the set went on sale. Thus you had to buy the entire set to get these rare tracks. An error in the launch of the set in the Canadian iTunes store left these songs available for individual purchase for the first three days the set was available on that store. The album was initially released in 2004 at 128kbs quality and as of December 20, 2007 was removed from the iTunes store and is no longer available to purchase. However in May 2009, when the iTunes Plus upgrades were made available, users who had previously purchased “The Complete U2” could upgrade the quality to 256kbs quality, but it still remains unavailable for new purchases.

The EP “Early Demos” features three demo tracks, that had not been previously released. Two songs, “The Fool” and “Street Missions” had never been released in any format before. The third song “Shadows and Tall Trees” had been released on “Boy” but it was a more polished finished version. All three of these songs are listed as “1st Demo Version” in the actual digital files. These were taken from one of the early demo sessions that U2 had, working with producer Barry Devlin, who fronted the band Horslips. The Edge describes the session: “Barry had a lot of experience in recording studios and managed to steer some very green young men through the process. The result, while capturing our earliest attempts at song writing, is the sound of a band still trying to get to grips with the recording studio. We ended up going back in four months later, with the next batch of songs, many of which ended up on the BOY album, and recorded a demo more like our live shows; messy, passionate and inspirational. It didn’t get us a deal either, but Bono brought it around to every UK music paper, and the interest of this coverage created brought us to the attention of Island Records.”

Although listed as the “1st Demo Version” the session with Devlin was not likely the very first demo session that U2 had recorded. The first session in Eamon Andrews Studios was a result of winning the Harp Lager Talent Contest in March of 1978. During that session it is reported that U2 recorded “Tonight”, “Trevor”, “Inside Out” and “Jack in a Box”. The session with Barry Devlin in Keystone Studios followed in November of 1978 which is where this EP of songs is mostly likely from. Four months later, in February of 1979 U2 would have a third demo session where they would record another set of songs including “Live on a Distant Planet”, “Another Time, Another Place”, “Alone in the Light”, “False Prophet” and the version of “Twilight” that would later be used as a b-side for their second single, “Another Day”. This third session would also be held in Eamonn Andrews. All three demo sessions have shown up on bootleg recordings over the years, usually placed together on one CD. The digital files included here are a remarkable improvement in sound out of these recordings that had been bootlegged. This is the earliest performance material that has been released by the band. These sessions have not been released on any audio CD to this date. The remastered edition of “Boy” would include two other tracks from this same era that had not been released, but not these three particular tracks featured here. They remain a digital only release.

The cover of the “Early Demos” EP was attached to the three songs, as well as being featured in a pdf file that accompanied the set designed by Shaughn McGrath of Four5One. The cover features a photo of Peter Rowan taken during the sessions for the cover of Boy. Peter with make up on his face is hunched over with his arms down. The font used on the cover is reminiscent of the one used for the original “Boy” cover. Like “Boy” the cover is mostly white with a silver border.

During the promotion of the movie, “Killing Bono” in 2011 much publicity was given incorrectly to the fact that the song “Street Mission”, a never before released U2 song, would be in the movie performed by Martin McCann, and the cast of the film. The problem? “Street Missions” had been released in this set in 2004 so was hardly a “never before released U2 song”. The soundtrack to the movie did contain the cast recording of “Street Mission”, and names the song without the final ‘S’ although the liner notes released with “The Complete U2” clearly call the song “Street Missions”.

Liner Notes

No traditional liner notes are included with “The Complete U2”.


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