U2 is the only band that I consistently own all the records from (albeit a small minority only in digital format). I know a lot of people just hate them, and those people are right. They’re pretty much insufferable, don’t really stand out as individual musicians, and what they’ve produced and done the last ten years is highly shitty (the last three albums basically suck totally, except for ‘Beautiful Day’ and ‘Vertigo’, which are awesome tracks). I particularly dislike the whole commercial peace-love-understanding vibe that they’ve gotten into, and Bono’s lyrics are getting progressively worse. Plus, they’re a bunch of millionaires, and they know it.
Nevertheless: everything they produced before 2001′s All That You Can’t Leave Behind is simply fantastic. The early post-punk new wave albums are piercingly forceful and enthusiastic; the more ambient albums after that are beautiful; the Joshua Tree stuff tops everything in greatness; and their 90′s music is dark and original. The Rattle & Hum concert video, by the way, is the single best music video thing ever, maybe except for the Woodstock dvd. Compare that to other bands like The Rollling Stones, which got into ridiculousness way earlier and sooner than this band did.
So, being such at an adept, even though months can go by without listening to even a single track, I’m always happy when material pops up that I’m not familiar with. Case in point here is U2′s “lost” single, ‘A Celebration’, which was released as a single in March 1982 (between the October and War albums), yet never appeared on an album. I do remember seeing it on MTV once, but completely forgot about it had it not been for this Dangerous Minds post recollecting the history of the track, in addition to a nice interview with Bono about it.
It’s actually a pretty decent track with a very nice guitar riff. The clip was shot in Kilgainham Goal (a former prison for political prisoners in Dublin, which hosted some well-known Irish revolutionairies), where I happened to be just a couple of months ago. Here it is:
For more about this, check this blog post. Here’s a part of a 1983 radio interview with Bono about why the group disliked the track and started to ditch it:
Interviewer: I wanna play the other side of that, which is ‘A Celebration’, since we have no hope in the world of hearing this tomorrow, since the band’s forgotten it we’re gonna play that. This is a terrific track, is it ever going to appear on an album?
Bono: No…(laughs) I don’t think so. It ah -
Interviewer: Do you not like it?!
Bono: No I do like it actually, I’m… sometimes I hate it, I mean it’s like with a lot of music, if I hear it in a club it really excites me, and I think it is a forerunner to War and a lot of the themes. It was great in Europe because… A song like ‘Seconds’ people thought was very serious -- on the LP War ‘Seconds’ -- it’s anti-nuclear, it’s a statement. They didn’t see the sense of humour to it, it’s sort of black humour, where we were using a lot of clichés; y’know It takes a second to say goodbye, blah blah, and some people took it very seriously. And it is black humour, and it is to be taken sort-of seriously, but this song had the lines in it, I believe in a third world war, I believe in the atomic bomb, I believe in the powers that be, but they won’t overpower me. And of course a lot of people they heard I believe in a third world war, I believe in the atomic bomb, and they thought it was some sort of, y’know, Hitler Part II. And Europeans especially were (puts on outraged French accent) Ah non! Vive le France! and it was all like, all sorts of chaos broke out, and they said, What do you mean, you believe in the atomic bomb? And I was trying to say in the song, I believe in the third world war, because people talk about the third world war but it’s already happened, I mean it’s happened in the third world, that’s obvious. But I was saying these are facts of life, I believe in them, I believe in the powers that be BUT, they won’t overpower me. And that’s the point, but a lot of people didn’t reach the fourth line.