"The Complete U2" - U2

Digital Box Set

Track Listing:

Duplicate Songs in the Set:

Background Information

“The Complete U2” was a first for the world of digital music. U2 released a full “box set” of all of their releases through iTunes on November 23, 2004. The initial offering was 446 tracks, separated into 67 different “groupings” – i.e. album and singles. Each item was called “The Complete U2 – xxx” where xxx was the name of the individual album or single title. The digital box set contained all of the albums up to and including “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” which had been released the same day in North America. The collection also contained a number of new items, not previously released including “Unreleased & Rare”, “Live in Boston 1981”, “U2 Love: Live from the Point Depot” and a digital EP of “Early Demos”. The set also contained a 48 page PDF file which detailed the tracks included, artwork from the releases, liner notes on each previously released album by Bill Flanagan, and liner notes written by The Edge for the new sets listed above. These new tracks and indeed, several other portions of the set could only be bought when buying the entire set, except in Canada where the iTunes store initially allowed users to buy all the tracks individually before finding the mistake and making them “album only”.

The same day, the U2 iPod was released. Included within the iPod box is the image used above for the cover artwork for this set. Artwork for this set was done by Four5One Creative group in Dublin, who have provided artwork for U2’s albums throughout their 25 year career. They designed the PDF file that came with the set, they provided the artwork to Apple for the singles in conjunction with U2Wanderer.org. And they designed this artwork included in the iPod.

The iPod release also came with a coupon to save $50 from the purchase price of this digital set. The set was priced at $149 in the USA store when the set launched. The tracks were initially released in m4a file format, at a bitrate of 128kbps. When iTunes Plus was launched these tracks were made available to upgrade to 256kbps, even though the set could no longer be purchased. When the video capable iPod was introduced the coupon for $50 was removed from the set and instead the box included a code for a 33 minute video called “Love U2” which was 33:45 in length and included interview clips and live footage.

Not all of the 446 tracks are unique. In fact many are repeated throughout the collection. “One” for example is found on “Achtung Baby”, the “One” single and “The Best of 1990 – 2000”. The set was not fully complete either, and some tracks were left out of the collection, some which were already on iTunes in other forms.

There were a number of errors in the set:

  • “Stories for Boys” is not the version from “Three” but rather the version from the compilation “Just for Kicks”. This was not fixed in the iTunes Plus release, and is present in international versions.
  • The first drum beat on “Sunday Bloody Sunday” from the “War” and “The Best of 1990 – 2000” folder was cut off in the USA release – Apple claimed that was as the record label intended.
  • “Corpse (These Chains are Way Too Long)”, “New York (Live from Farmclub.com)” were both faulty, the first would skip or stop when played on an iPod, the second would crash iTunes. Both were fixed early on.
  • “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses (Temple Bar Remix)” was actually “Paint it Black” when downloaded. This was fixed within the first month.
  • “A Sort of Homecoming (Live from Wembley)” on “Wide Awake in America” was only 0:12 in length. This was fixed within the first month.
  • “Discotheque” on “Pop” was the 5:11 single version not the 5:19 album version, this was fixed on international releases.
  • “Lemon (The Perfecto Mix)” on “Melon” and the “Lemon” single was the live version from “Hasta La Vista Baby” and not the remixed version. This was fixed within the first month.
  • “Where the Streets Have No Name” in the single of that name was the 4:38 edit from “The Best of 1990 – 2000” and not the original single mix. This was never fixed.
  • The tracks “Lemon (Momo’s Reprise)” and “Lemon (Momo’s Beats)” were actually the same track and were actually “Lemon (Momo’s Reprise)”. This was never fixed.
  • “Even Better Than the Real Thing” isn’t the album version on “Achtung Baby” it’s actually the single version. This was never fixed.
  • “Bad” on “The Best of 1980 – 1990” is not the edit found on that actual release, but is the full version from “The Unforgettable Fire” album. This was never fixed.
  • “When Love Comes to Town” is not the edit found on “The Best of 1980 – 1990” in that directory, but is rather the version found on “Rattle and Hum”. This was never fixed.
  • “Mysterious Ways” is also not the edit found on “The Best of 1980 – 1990” in that directory, but is rather the version found on “Achtung Baby”. This was never fixed.

In the 256kbps set that was released in 2009 as part of iTunes Plus a number of additional errors cropped up:

  • The version of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” in the USA release continues to have the initial drum beat cut out, this was not fixed in the US, but was elsewhere.
  • On the 256kbps set “Electrical Storm (William Orbit Radio Edit)” was actually the “Band Version” which was included elsewhere in the set. This mistake was present on all international copies and was never fixed.
  • On the USA release several tracks were mislabeled, “Last Night on Earth (First Night in Hell)” was actually “Pop Muzik (PopMart Mix)” and “Numb (The Soul Assassins Mix)” was one of the “Happiness is a Warm Gun” remixes. This was fixed in international versions as they became available, and those countries actually received “Last Night on Earth” and “Numb”
  • On the 256kbps set in the US “All I Want is You (Album Version)” in the “All I Want is You” folder is actually “Unchained Melody”. In the 128kbps set it had been correct.
  • “Night and Day (Steel String Remix)” in the 256kbps set was actually “Satellite of Love” in the USA.

As of Dec. 20, 2007 the set was removed from the iTunes stores worldwide, and is no longer available for purchase. The set was made available in iTunes Plus at 256kbps on May 23, 2009, even though you could no longer purchase the tracks, you could upgrade them for a fee.

Further information on duplication of tracks, and of releases that didn’t make it to this release, see the associated news article.

Liner Notes

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Catalog of Releases