This is a review of U2 The Early Days (book) by Bill Graham.
Somehow I thought I had already reviewed a book by Bill Graham, but I hadn’t. I guess I was thinking of Bill Flanagan, who I have reviewed. Or maybe I was thinking of the several books that have talked either about him or contained articles written by him. Graham is one of those guys who were there since the early days, covering the band and in some ways promoting the band. He introduced them to Paul McGuinness, for example. So this is one of those cases where the guy has been around, and so you trust what he writes. It’s not like a writer nowadays, choosing to write a book about the band and relying on others to tell them the story. Yes, they can get the story, the publicly presented story, but they didn’t live it or know anything from the inside.
I’ve talked about some of the books that cover U2 in the early days, things like the Hot Press stuff which are reprints of the articles written about the band back then. Then there are other books which go back and show more detail about what was happening with the band. And then there is this book, which is titled The Early Days and really is about the early days of the band. It is written a decade later, but it is a detailed essay (and yes, I mean essay, this is a single long piece) about the band prior to them signing their first album deal. The first half of the book is this essay, with scattered pictures, and the second half is all pictures from those days.
I’ll start with the pictures: I seem to keep saying this when I review books, but in this case it’s more true than most, that there are many pictures of the band in the early days that I have never seen before. This is an intimate look at the band, close up pictures of them both on and off the stage. Larry in his cherubic best, looking like a little kid like he would look for many more years (and perhaps still now), in one shot wearing a tie while drumming. Many of these pictures make the book well worth the price (and I don’t even remember what I paid for it on Amazon, not that much).
And as for the essay, it is fantastic. It is a seriously detailed look at the band’s early days, one long article with great detail about the band, everything and everyone around them, and how they were moving themselves forward. Each step is well covered, as they were moving up the rungs on the steps to becoming superstars. The first step is getting a record deal, and much is made of that, in fact you might say the entire structure of the article is all the steps on the way to signing that first deal with Island Records. So it is shown in great detail, and honestly the only thing wrong is that it stops so early (although obviously that is the point of the book). I would love to see this same thing done for the rest of the band’s career, essentially a forty page story on a year or so in the band’s life. If it was written like this book it would be perhaps the best book ever on the band.
My rating for U2 The Early Days (book): 8 /10