U2 Mispressings

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2019-06-21)

With an act like U2 releasing millions of copies of items on various physical formats, it is inevitable that sometimes a mistake is made.

Misprints are when there is a mistake or an error in the packaging or labels on an item. The packaging is wrong in some way, but the music contained on the release is correct. Sometimes these issues are caught during production and corrected, and other times the error is not noticed and all copies of an item are affected. Titles get printed wrong, or in the wrong spot, or contain spelling errors – all are examples of misprints. U2’s career has had many misprints, but we aren’t looking at those today.

Rarer is the mispress, where the wrong music is pressed onto a disc that is then labeled as if it is something else. You go out and buy a U2 disc, and when you get it home you pop it into the player, only to find out it isn’t U2 at all on the disc. While we won’t attempt to look at all of the errors in U2’s entire catalog in this piece, we will look at a few mispressings from recent years.

Red Hill Mining Town Picture Disc

This U2 release for Record Store Day in 2017 was supposed to contain U2’s new mix of “Red Hill Mining Town” on both sides of a picture disc. The album was pressed in the Czech Republic at GZ Vinyl, and somewhere along the way a small number of these discs were pressed incorrectly.

The discs with the error have U2’s version of “Red Hill Mining Town” on one side, as they should. They look like all of the correct discs as well. But on the mispress, side A is incorrect. Side A contains the first side of the 1988 album by Leslie Cheung, “Hot Summer.” Cheung is a Hong Kong singer and actor,

How did a 1988 album by a Cantopop performer end up on the U2 release? The album “Hot Summer” was being reissued in Hong Kong as a picture disc, with a release date of April 6, 2017. The U2 release came out a few days later for Record Store Day. Both were being produced in the same factory in the Czech Republic, and at some point during that process, the wrong stamping plate was used in the process. There haven’t been many copies of this release seen, so it is unlikely that thte mistake lasted long, and it was likely corrected, or copies with the error were destroyed.

The Cheung side of the album contains five different tracks, “Hot Summer” (3:57), 貼身 “Close Proximity” (3:13), 無需要太多 (“Don’t Need Too Much”) (4:27), 可否多一吻 (“How About One More Kiss”) (5:07) and Hey! 不要玩 (“Hey! Don’t Play”) (3:34). The matrix of this side of the album is “8860544-A” and you can visually see that the mispress has five tracks through a visual inspection.

The nice thing about this one? You still get all the U2 content on the release, it has the picture disc, it has the new mix of “Red Hill Mining Town”, yet it still has a unique twist with the Cheung tracks on the alternate side.

Boy: The Kiosk Collection

In 2015, U2 began issuing one album each week in Spain in conjunction with El Pais. These were part of the box set, The Kiosk Collection. The first six weeks went smoothly, but the album “Boy” was due on the seventh week, on November 15, 2015. Reports started quickly that the album was unavailable. A small number did make it onto auction sites, and it was quickly identified why these had been held back. The initial pressing of Boy didn’t contain any U2 music at all, but in fact included a tribute album to a Slovakian artist, Jarove Persnicky, “Pocta Jarovi Filipovi: Jarove Pesnicky”

The CD was quickly recalled, and sellers were asked to return all copies immediately. However a few did not get sent back and ended up for sale instead. The error had been well contained, and the value on these mispressed copies of the CD were quite high.

In 2016, the Kiosk Collection was also released in Portugal. Like the Spanish set, these were issued through the Correio de Manha newspaper. And for the most part these were the same CDs that had been pressed and sold in the Spanish box set. And that’s where it got interesting. Although the CDs had been identified and recalled in the Spanish promotion, the exact same error was actually sold in the Portugal promotion. Even those the discs had been recalled a year prior, on December 22, 2016 the copy of Boy sold in Portugal was the mispress.

In the case of the Portuguese issue, the disc was not recalled. Instead, those who had bought the disc with the error were told to keep the case for the CD, and to return the wrongly pressed CD for replacement. People who bought the CD after the error was once again noted were sent a copy of the original packaged CD with the error, as well as a replacement disc at the same time. The replacement CD was a new pressing of Boy and was not the same CD issued in Spain to replace the CD there.

As a further note, the Spanish Kiosk collection had an error on the back of the sleeve for All That You Can’t Leave Behind labeling the song “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” as “Stuck in a Moment Which You Can’t Get Out Of” which was an error. This was corrected for the Portuguese release. A different pressing of Zooropa with a different sleeve was also used further differentiating the set from the Spanish collection. The Spanish set also had a gold coloured title for War which was later repeated for the Portuguese release.

Songs of Innocence Record Store Day

This error got a fair amount of press when it happened, and its likely one of the more known mispressings over the years in the U2 catalog. But it also affected so few copies of the release that it surprises us that it got the press that it did. One story even added a headline “Record Store Day Mix Up Leaves Thousands of Fans Fuming,” which was definitely an exaggeration.

April 18, 2015 the Record Store edition of Songs of Innocence went on sale for Record Store Day. The limited black vinyl edition of the vinyl was numbered, and was packaged in a white die cut sleeve, so that you could see the label through the stretch wrap. Dianne Delahunty contacted us that morning to tell us her copy, bought from Banquet Records, in Kingston Upon Thames in the UK had come with a surprise. The label that could be seen inside her record had a white label with black text like the U2 release, but she had never heard of the songs, “Sweat,” “Hush,” and “Part of Me”. The label itself listed that the record had been produced by the Zomba Recording Corporation and Printed in the USA.

A second shopper at the same store, confirmed to us that he too received the record, and he opened the album and had listened. U2 is not played when you play the vinyl. The vinyl is correctly labelled, it is an EP by the band Tool titled Opiate, originally released in 1992. The EP had not even been part of Record Store Day offerings, but the plant was likely running a repressing for other reasons.

Tool themselves addressed the mispressing on their website writing, “Some very lucky people who purchased U2’s Songs Of Innocence during a recent record store release found instead a copy of Tool’s 1992 Opiate EP inside. Kind of makes you believe in mysterious higher powers, doesn’t it?”

Diffuser.FM reported that a UK label manager spoke about the issue and said that “a good chunk” were “sleeved at the wrong pressing plant.” It was a response to questions about the Tool mishap, but probably was in relation to the other packaging issue with this pressing. The limited edition vinyl Songs of Innocence contains an insert with album credits inside the vinyl. This insert if packaged correctly was on the interior, between the vinyl where it would not be seen, and it would leave the vinyl labels visible through the die cut sleeve. Instead, on a number of copies, you can see a photograph of the band, which is the front of this credit insert. Instead of being packaged inside between the two vinyls, it is packaged so that it is on the outside of one of the vinyl. Thus instead of seeing the white label as intended you instead see a picture of the band. This problem is widespread in these packages, and approximately 10% of the copies have this issue. The insert that you can see is included in all copies of the vinyl; if you have opened your copy you have already seen this insert.

In the end the label did offer to replace any copies that had been purchased with the wrong vinyl inside.

Only three copies of this error are known. It is possible that there were a few additional copies, but it seems to be limited to the copies right around #0711. Copies of #708 and #0718 on either side of the error are both packaged with the proper vinyl.

Lionel Richie on War

You get home. You pop your new copy of War in the CD player. You press play. You expect to hear Larry Mullen’s opening drumming for “Sunday Bloody Sunday”…instead you hear the opening to Lionel Richie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling”.

“Woah! What a feeling, when we’re dancing on the ceiling…”

That would send you back to the case quickly! Where you would find that the booklet, the back insert, even the text on the CD itself show that you have a German pressed copy of U2’s War. This one lists the catalog number CID 112 and 90067-2, and was made in Germany. The matrix code doesn’t match any U2 pressing though, the “ZD 72412 / B-5502 A” matrix is from copies of Lionel Richie’s Dancing on the Ceiling album. It’s the only external way of knowing that the disc you are about to play doesn’t contain U2.

The Lionel Richie album wasn’t released until 1986, but War was released in 1983, so how did this one happen? Compact discs were a new technology emerging in the early 1980s, and many of the titles in U2’s catalog were not pressed on the format right away. It is likely that the German copy of War, being pressed in 1986 was being pressed at the same factory as the new Lionel Richie disc, and there was an error made. Or for that matter it could have happened even later in life as the discs were repressed.

Nick Carter on “Electrical Storm”

Errors aren’t just limited to audio discs. Some buyers of the “Electrical Storm” DVD in Canada got a surprise when turning on their TVs. Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys had just released his album Now or Never and in some markets a bonus DVD was included with the album. The DVD featured a couple of interviews with Nick, a section of weblinks, and a video featuring some music. This is the DVD that accidentally ended up in U2 packaging, and painted to look like the U2 disc. There was no external way of knowing that you weren’t buying the U2 DVD. The error only became evident when you started to watch the disc. Not many copies of this were reported to us, so we expect it affects a very small number.

Mispressings are fun part of collecting and often are produced by accident in small quantities so can become very desirable to those who might want to collect something different. Do you have anything in your collection that looks like a U2 release but really isn’t? What sort of mispressings do you have in your collection? We’d love to hear from you in the comments on Facebook, in reply on Twitter or even over in our forum.

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