Early Songs

One of the things about this blog is that I planned on covering every U2 song that was released, whether on an album, standalone, b side, whatever. The problem with this is that they have a number of songs that were never released, that snuck out into the world here and there in different variations. Some live songs that never got recorded, some demos that were recorded but never released, and so on. This means that there have been a few songs that never made it to my list, or were on the list but fell to the bottom again and again, and so I’m writing about those today.

It is actually quite surprising the number of songs that they have recorded but never released, or have existed in some variation or another. Bono is well-known for playing his latest thing to a journalist somewhere, and they report a title and a feeling for a song, but then it never sees the light of day. Plenty of those over the years. But if you go back to the earliest days, there are so many different titles that we know now, but don’t know what happened to those songs, whether they changed title, changed into another song, or just got thrown to the wayside. The following is a short list of songs (and even shorter reviews) that are now available on YouTube in different formats, all of them from the really early days of Boy or even before then.

City At Night: One of those definitive early U2 sounds, this song is fast, loud, lots of drums. Every box checked. And the Bono voice from the very early days, I don’t know how he managed to sing like that, getting that weird echo sound in his voice, somehow sounding both grownup and a teenager at the same time. Older than his years.

Life On A Distant Planet: Really good bass, from the first note onward. Bono sounding terrible. Ideas there, but not necessarily expressed very well. Makes me wonder if they came up with a phrase and then wrote a song around it. Like maybe they were watching Star Trek or something like that, and asked themselves “I wonder what life on a distant planet would be like,” then started writing something.

Carry Me Home: This one actually has a little bit of difference to the others, and I think it’s mostly the drums, they really do sound different. It’s also the guitar, Edge is doing a sort of start-stop thing throughout the song, and it is interesting, if not effective.

The Dream Is Over: I think this one became Boy-Girl, or maybe vice versa? Sound seems very similar, as does the overall feeling. Not much more than that.

Alone In The Night: Oh boy, check every box again. There are times when I listen to the early stuff that I think they are playing the same musical track over and over, just sped up or slowed down a little, and then Bono is singing words over the top (with words being a very loose term in this case).

So, none of these made it to a release, some of them influenced other things, but yes, these are very late-70s and early-80s sounds. There are a hundred bands that could have sung these songs (Madness comes to mind, they sounded just like this). Nothing that made it, nothing that deserved to. I would have loved this stuff if I was a teenager at this time, I would have been leaping and dancing at the shows.

And by the way there’s one song, Concentration Cramp, that I’ve never heard or found a link to. Any ideas?