- 04 Jul 19
It’s been an exciting time for U2 fans, with the news of a previously unheard live recording from the band’s legendary Dandelion Market gigs, being revealed by @U2Tours.com. But Hot Press has uncovered a different twist on an old U2 story!
Over recent days, a previously unheard live recording of U2 was unearthed by Pete McCluskey aka Pete the Roz – a one-time member of a Dublin band The Strougers. More on this anon.
However, the story had the team at Hot Press scratching our collective heads, wondering if this is indeed the first ever live recording of the band; and also, what other obscure recordings might have been made in the early days.
The answer to the latter, of course, was relatively close to home. Fans and rock historians will recall that U2 first came to prominence – well, of a sort! – when they won a band competition, the final of which was held in Limerick. One of the judges on the night was Jackie Hayden – who has told the story of the big night in Hot Press in the past.
Jackie went on to sign a singles deal with the band, on behalf of CBS Ireland, and to release U2’s first couple of singles, most notably the famous U23 debut EP – or maxi-single – which contained early versions of ‘Out Of Control’ and ’Stories for Boys’, and ‘Boy/Girl’ – the first two of which also appeared on Boy.
That Jackie and his fellow judges' decision that U2 were better than the competition was a source of great disgruntlement to a few of the competing bands, who believed that they were real musicians who could play their instruments, dismissing U2 (or U-2 as their name was characterised at the time) as amateurs. What they missed was the special spark that Jackie saw in the four-piece from Mount Temple.
Jackie Hayden worked in CBS Records (now Sony Music) at the time, in a combined marketing and A&R role. He had contributed the competition prize – that the winning band would have the cost of making a demo recording covered for them.
Thus it was that he ended up going into the studio with U2, in effect acting as the producer and mentor on the band’s first foray into a professional recording set-up.
Jackie recalls the song, which the band elected to record, as ‘Inside Out’. It's a song that apparently featured in their live set for a period, but then slipped off the radar. It has never appeared at all on a U2 record. It is not listed – or certainly not under that title – in the Lyrics section on U2.com. It is, it seems, a genuine lost U2 song.
"Late at night when the motion beats down,” Bono sings,
"I feel so low, oh no,
I lived a lie for a thousand years,
cos you’re so, oh no,
I said oh no baby, no,
what you gonna do it for?
Oh no, baby, don’t leave me to reality…
Take your time, I feel fine
Oh no, no, no – cos I’m inside out."
There seems to have been general agreement that it was not a session to set the world on fire. But the song fits well into the world of adolescent confusion and yearning that U2 often wrestled with in their early songs. The best of that material – for most of it, at any rate – was captured on the bright and shining thing that was their debut album, Boy.
On occasion, U2 might corral an idea or a set of lyrics and re-use them in a different context – it happened, for example, when an early song 'Saturday Night’ was reimagined as ‘Fire’, which appeared on October – but so far the HP sleuths have been unable to find any trace of ‘Inside Out’ anywhere else in the U2 canon. A bit of drilling was done in that regard at the time of the original publication of U2: The Stories Behind the Songs. Nothing was uncovered.
Indeed, even the title is uncertain. Somewhere in his labyrinthine collection, Jackie Hayden has a cassette copy of the recording. But the title seems not to have been noted thereon. U2-philes, familiar with the band in their early days, recall a song entitled ‘Inside Out’ – and it certainly seems like the most likely nomenclature when you examine the lyrics.
As the lyrics indicate, it was a short song. But this was not uncommon for U2. ’The Ocean’, which featured on Boy, was just 1minute 34 seconds. It has the feel of a fragment. ‘Into The Heart’ which is conjoined with ‘An Cat Dubh’ on the debut album was just 1’ 53’’. ‘October’, the title track of their second LP, was 2’ 21’’. ‘Inside Out’ would have been swimming in the same zone. But it seems never to have made it past the official starting line.
Perhaps somewhere in the U2 vaults there is a version of the song that deserves release. We shall see!
• U2: Songs + Experience, is the new, fully updated version of U2: The Stories Behind The Songs, written by Hot Press editor Niall Stokes (The new edition comes with additional material by Brian Boyd).
For Hot Press' full range of U2 issues and related items, go to shop.hotpress.com/collections/hot-press-u2-collection