Deep Cuts: U2: Part II
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U2 has a ton of rare and unreleased material from throughout their career. Here is a list of 16 songs that include live tracks, non-album tracks, remixes and covers. Be sure to check out Part I of the feature, which includes underrated album tracks, as well as the essential U2 and the group’s biography..
1) “Bad [live]” – U2 die-hards may scoff at the inclusion of this terrific song, as it really isn’t a deep cut. Written to a friend suffering from heroin addiction, this emotional track still flies under the radar of most casual fans of the band. The studio version peaked at #19 on the mainstream rock charts, but this beautiful live version (recorded at the band’s show on November 12, 1984 in Birmingham, England) can be found on the Wide Awake In America EP that was released in 1985.
2) “40 [live]” – During the War sessions, the band was already over on their allotted studio time and they needed a track quickly. Bono opened a Bible and interpreted Psalm 40, the band put it to music and “40” was born. The studio version is great, but this live version, found on Under A Blood Red Sky, truly captures the song in its element, complete with enthusiastic crowd participation. The band closed many of their shows in the ‘80s with this track and started doing it again during their tour in 2005. Since the lead guitar in the song uses feedback from the monitors on stage, the Edge and Adam Clayton usually swap guitars when performing this song live.
NON-ALBUM TRACKS / REMIXES
3) “Hallelujah Here She Comes” – First appearing on the 1988 "Desire" single, the lyrics in this track are probably a little too simple for a proper U2 album, but the pretty guitar and the organ in the background make it a joy to listen to.
4) “North and South of the River” – Bono and the Edge co-wrote this song with Irish singer-songwriter Christy Moore. Moore originally recorded the song in 1995 with the duo on background vocals. U2 later recorded its own version and released it on the Staring At The Sun single. It is a slow, moving song about separation that features an interesting bass line and a pretty string solo.
5) “Dirty Day [Junk Day Mix]” – The original song appeared on Zooropa, but this remix first appeared on the "Please" single and later on the Best of 1990-2000 & B Sides collection. Adding a bass line that brings a whole new dimension to the song, it sounds as if this mix may have influenced the Dandy Warhols’ excellent single, “We Used to be Friends.”
6) “Holy Joe [Garage Mix]” – This song is more about the beat and the guitar, but Bono grabs the spotlight with the opening lyrics, “I…I’m a humble guy / No really I try / You know it’s hard sometimes.” Released in 1997 as a B-side on the "Discotheque" single, this track probably should have had a place on Pop. The song is a little harder than most of the band’s fare, but it reminds me of some of the best moments on Achtung Baby.
7) “Flower Child” – Mysteriously left off of All That You Can’t Leave Behind, this superb track certainly should have replaced the dreary “Peace On Earth” or “When I Look at the World.” Edge’s up-tempo acoustic guitar provides the pretty melody and Bono’s lyrics, while fairly nonsensical, are sung in such a catchy manner that he could be speaking gobbledygook and it wouldn’t really matter. In my estimation, if there is one song on this list that readers should find and listen to, this is the one. But much to the dismay of their law-abiding fans, the track is only legally available as part of the $150 "The Complete U2" collection featured on iTunes.
8) “Levitate” – Also left off of All That You Can’t Leave Behind, this track doesn’t match “Flower Child” in terms of quality, but considering the two aforementioned clunkers, it still should have made the album. Sounding more like an Achtung castoff, the song features a techno beat with strong vocals and moody guitar.
9) “Big Girls are Best” – First appearing as a B-side on the Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of single, this track features an infectious bass line from Clayton against a nice beat from Mullen. Edge provides some crunchy Achtung guitar and the lyrics were written as a tribute to Bono’s wife when she was pregnant.
10) “Smile” – This track emerged from the How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb sessions without a home. Bono’s superb vocals are featured against a slow, escalating melody. Unfortunately, like “Flower Child,” this track is only legally available on iTunes as part of "The Complete U2."
11) “Fast Cars” – Appearing only as a bonus track on the Japan and UK versions of Bomb, it – like the aforementioned “Smile” – is stronger than some of the tracks that made the US version. Starting with a little Spanish flair, the rapid-fire lyrics are manic and timely. Oddly, it appears that the album’s title came from a lyric in this song – “They’re in the desert to dismantle an atomic bomb.”
12) “Jesus Christ” – Originally written by Woody Guthrie, U2 recorded this cover during the Sun Sessions in Memphis, where several Rattle & Hum tracks were also recorded. Obviously, it’s not the typical U2 sound, but it’s interesting to hear band go in such an overtly gospel direction. This song charted in 1988, but it isn’t well known.
13) “Can’t Help Falling In Love” – Technically a Bono solo project, this song was the highlight of the Honeymoon In Vegas soundtrack, which is a collection of Elvis songs covered by various artists. Bono makes the song his own when he hits the lyric “Take my hand / take my whole life too” in his patented falsetto. The track also features bits of an interview of Elvis, which serves as a somewhat eerie backdrop for the song. 11/04/05 Update: Reader Chris P. suggested the “Triple Peaks Remix” of this song and after listening to it, it’s a really good take on the song and is definitely worth a listen. Thanks, Chris.
14) “Satellite of Love” – Originally written and recorded by Lou Reed, U2 stays fairly close to the original with this cover. As usual, Bono hits notes that the vocally challenged Reed could only dream about, while the band sounds perfectly subtle throughout most of the song. Towards the end, Edge’s guitar kicks in (along with some quiet handclaps) to effectively close out the track.
15) “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town” – This is a groovy, seemingly reggae-inspired rendition of the Johnny Cash tune that was recorded live in the studio in Dublin and released on the Elevation single in 1999. This cover is proof that Cash blurred the line between country and rock and that his songs translated well in both genres. Larry Mullen’s creative drumming is especially impressive.
16) “Unchained Melody” – I’m just now getting past the overexposure that the original (Righteous Brothers) version of this song received at the hands of the 1990 Patrick Swayze / Demi Moore vehicle, “Ghost.” This version was released in 1989 as a B-side on the "All I Want Is You" single. It starts with a grinding guitar and slow tempo against Bono’s considerable vocals and eventually builds itself into a weary yet relentless pop song.
Other songs that U2 has covered in the studio: “Everlasting Love,” “Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad,” “Dancing Barefoot,” “Fortunate Son,” “Night and Day,” “Happiness is a Warm Gun” and “Paint It Black.”
If you think I’ve left anything out, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to hear your suggestions and maybe discover a great new song or two along the way.