In Profile: U2 (1980)

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U2 kicked off the new decade with live shows mainly in their homeland, cementing their positions as Ireland’s number one band. U.K. weekly music paper New Musical Express (NME) and particularly writer Paul Morley were early champions of the Irish four piece. A live report from a concert at London’s Moonlight Club in December 1979 stating, “U2 are sharp and subtle and cynical, slyly seductive in an uncompromising way like the Pretenders or the Au Pairs.”

In February 1980 the band released their debut single, “Another Day” to Ireland audiences only. Recorded at CBS London studios months earlier, and produced by Chas De Whalley and the band.

U2 – Another Day Single
Produced by Chas De Whalley & U2
Label – CBS

Side 1: Another Day (7)
Side 2: Twilight (7)

On March 24th the band’s management confirmed that U2 had signed a 4 year, 4 album contract with Chris Blackwell’s Island Records. During March, the band would visit Strawberry Studios, Stockport to meet in demand producer Martin Hannett with a view use his services for the forthcoming debut album. They had been impressed by his work on Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures”, and in that same month recorded their first international single, “11 O’Clock Tick Tock” with Hannett at the helm. According to legend the recording process was not a happy one, and U2 would dispense with his services immediately.

U2 – 11 O’Clock Tick Tock Single
Produced by Martin Hannett
Label – Island/CBS

Side 1: 11 O’Clock Tick Tock (6)
Side 2: Touch (6)

In May, June and July the band embarked on the “11 O’Clock Tick Tock” tour, their most extensive so far. It included 20 dates in England, culminating in a final show at London’s Marquee Club on July 13th.

On September 22nd the band recorded 4 songs at Maida Vale Studios in London for BBC Radio 1’s Mike Read evening show. The session included the songs “I Will Follow”, “The Electric Co.”, “An Cat Dubh” and “Into the Heart”.

During late summer and early autumn U2 returned to Windmill Studios in Dublin to complete their debut record, “Boy”. Newly recruited producer Steve Lillywhite would take over from Hannett. The band’s arsenal of 40 songs were whittled down to 11, with what was described as a very happy, progressive and fresh atmosphere. “Boy” was released on October 20th to almost universal acclaim, although it failed to break the top 50 in either the U.K. or U.S.

U2 – Boy Album
Produced by Steve Lillywhite and U2
Label – Island/CBS

Here’s The Hackskeptic’s review of “Boy”

U2 – Boy (1980): Review (7/10)

On October 24th “I Will Follow” (a tribute to Bono’s mother, who died when he was 14 and album opener) was released as a single, with a live rendition of “Boy/Girl” on the flip side.

U2 – I Will Follow Single
Produced by Steve Lillywhite
Label – Island/CBS

Side 1: I Will Follow (9)
Side 2: Boy/Girl (recorded live at London’s Marquee Club 22/9/1980) (6)

 From September 6th until December 3rd the band would embark on their first tour that ventured beyond the U.K. and Ireland, with dates in The Netherlands, Belgium and wrapping up the first leg of the “Boy” in Paris at the Baltard Pavilion.

From there the band travelled to North America for a series of 10 dates starting December 6th, returning home on December 17th for 5 dates before Christmas.

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2 responses to “In Profile: U2 (1980)

  1. Still together nearly forty years later… Got tickets to see them this summer in Pittsburgh and Cleveland!

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