- 05 Oct 10
U2 producer Steve Lillywhite has accused The Irish Times of misquoting him, in the headline on an article which appeared in the run-up to his appearance at The Music Show.
The news story was headlined "Producer admits last U2 album was a failure" – but the man who produced Boy, October and War, and later co-produced both How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb and No Line On The Horizon for the band, with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, insists that this is not what he said.
“I never called U2 a failure,” he told the audience at the panel ‘Are Producers The Real Stars?’, where he appeared alongside Van Morrison and Waterboys producer Mick Glossop and Julie Feeney.
“It was said that I said No Line On The Horizon was a failure. That is a complete misquote, I never said the word ‘failure’ to that journalist.”
In fact the words do not appear in quotes in the article and so the headline – presumably tagged on during production – is totally unrepresentative of what was written by Irish Times reporter, Ronan McGreevy.
“I just wanted to clarify what I said (here),” Lillywhite continued. “I was saying that with albums like The Joshua Tree, which is set in the desert, the album and the sound invokes this mood as a whole, you just feel it. I just said that I didn’t think No Line On The Horizon did that as well. It was meant to invoke the whole feel of north Africa, of Morocco, and I didn’t think that was achieved as well as on other albums, where the atmosphere hits you. I would never call any of U2’s work a failure, and I did not.”
A sub-headline on the news story says that the album sold only “a fraction” of previous albums, by which one would normally understand that sales were well down on previous efforts. In fact the record has gone to No. 1 in at least 14 countries. outperforming even Achtung Baby. Its sales of over 5 million copies, against the 9 million sold by its predecessor How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb have to be seen in the wider context of shrinking record sales – and so represent a relatively good result for the band in a diminishing market.
Lillywhite is currently seeking a retraction from the newspaper.
“You’d expect better of The Irish Times,” he said afterwards. “They’re supposed to be a newspaper of record.”