"Unreleased & Rare" - U2

Digital Album

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.

“Unreleased & Rare” features several tracks that had never appeared on any other commercial release. This was the debut of “Levitate”, “Flower Child” and “Love You Like Mad” from the “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” recording sessions. From the “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” sessions we get “Smile”, “Xanax and Wine” (an early version of “Fast Cars”, “Native Son” (an early version of “Vertigo”), and alternate versions of “All Because of You”, “Yahweh” and “Sometimes You Can’t Make it On Your Own”. From “The Joshua Tree” we get the song “Beautiful Ghost / Introduction to Songs of Experience”. The other songs included here are songs which aren’t found on albums, but have been previously released before. “Jesus Christ” is taken from “Folkways A Vision Shared”, “Numb (Radio Edit” comes from a “Numb” promotional release, “Bass Trap (Edit)” was first released on “The Best of 1980 – 1990 & B Sides”, “Night and Day (Twilight Remix)” appeared on the “Night and Day” promotional release. The final four tracks are far from rare, “Numb (Gimme Some More Dignity Edit)” and “Salomé (Zooromancer Edit)” were both released on “The Best of 1990-2000 and B Sides”, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” was released on the still in print “A Very Special Christmas”, and “Stateless” was released on the soundtrack to “Million Dollar Hotel”.

Out of the rare tracks issued here for the first time, all of them went on to make up the first disc of “Medium, Rare & Remastered”, the 2009 fan club present from u2.com. Thus all of the songs from this set have now been released on a physical audio format. But at the time of the release of “The Complete U2”, this digital format was the only way to get these particular songs. “Beautiful Ghost” would also be featured on deluxe versions of the remastered “The Joshua Tree”.

“Xanax and Wine” featured here was an early version of the song “Fast Cars” which was eventually released on some versions of “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb”. “Native Son” was an early version of “Vertigo” and was based on the story of Leonard Peltier. Bono felt he would have difficulty performing those lyrics in front of an audience, and chose to rewrite the song as “Vertigo”. The song “Beautiful Ghost” is an early instrumental track from the recording of “The Joshua Tree”, and Bono reads the poem “Introduction to Songs of Experience” by William Blake over top of the piece. In the accompanying liner notes The Edge describes “Smile” as a song that arrived too late for inclusion on the album, “Love You Like Mad” as a song that got lost in the crush, and “Beautiful Ghost” and “Flower Child” as songs that are waiting for a rewrite before they could be released. “Levitate” is described as a song that just wouldn’t fit in. The early versions of “All Because of You” and “Sometimes You Can’t Make it On Your Own” are the Chris Thomas produced versions, which reveal how close they got to a finished record with producer Thomas. And “Yahweh” was an alternate mix of the track, done by Nellee Hooper, which almost made the final mix of the album.

Liner Notes

No individual song credits are given except for “Beautiful Ghost”: Lyrics by William Blake, Introduction to Songs of Experience, Public domain. No individual song credits for these tracks was given when they were released later on “Medium, Rare and Remastered”.


Design by Four5One° Creative.

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