"The vocal glides gracefully between recognizable language and fluent Bongolese -- semilinguistic scat forming temporary bridges over lyrical gaps."
-- Brian Eno
Bits & Bytes
A collection of the latest U2 news and announcements posted by our staff.
U2's new album, Songs Of Innocence, will be eligible for next year's Grammy Awards, after all.
Although the physical album has a listed release date of October 14 (in North America), Universal Music quietly sent out a limited number of vinyl pressings of the album over the past couple days to independent record stores across the U.S.
One fan posted on Interference that he discovered it over the weekend at Amoeba Records, a shop with three California locations. (Note: It's no longer in stock there.) Looney Tunes, an independent shop on New York's Long Island, says they received some copies of this release (but they're only selling it to in-store customers), and posted several photos, two of which we'll include here:
As you can see, this is different from the official release, which will be white vinyl.
Neither U2 nor Universal Music have made any announcements about the release, but sources told us Monday night that the plan all along was to make sure the album was sold in stores before the Grammy eligibility deadline. The original release of Songs Of Innocence on September 9th wasn't eligible because it was distributed for free. Grammy rules require that albums be sold commercially no later than September 30th:
For the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards, albums must be released between Oct. 1, 2013 and Sept. 30, 2014. Recordings must be commercially released in general distribution in the United States, i.e. sales by label to a branch or recognized independent distributor, via the Internet, or mail order/retail sales for a nationally marketed product. Recordings must be available for sale from any date within the eligibility period through at least the date of the current year's voting deadline (final ballot).
Our sources were unable to confirm the New York store's claim that only 300 copies of this release were distributed, nor do we know how many stores received copies. If you're looking for a copy, check with your favorite local independent record store ... and hurry.
Live Nation Chairman Art Fogel told The Independent that U2's next tour may be doing a 180 from U2 360. The Independent reports:
Fogel hints that the accompanying U2 tour will be a stripped-back affair. “Without giving away any trade secrets, when you get to that level of production and scale [of the 360° tour], it’s not such a bad thing to go back the other way. I’m not sure you can ever go beyond that 360° production and make any sense of it.” U2 will ultimately thrive, he says, because “they are one of the few acts who have mastered the ability to shrink a stadium and to create intimacy in a large space with a lot of people.”
This further corroborates previous comments from Bono and Edge regarding the band's upcoming tour plans.
Adweek named Bono as its Brand Visionary for 2014, calling him a "superbrand who's improving the world," citing his involvement with (RED) as well as his ability influence politics, business and culture.
Bono confirmed that U2 are planning an arena tour next year. Talking to Absolute Radio's Christian O'Connell, he said:
"We're gonna be touring. We're gonna start next year. We're gonna try and play the O2 and places like that, more indoors than outdoors this time, but we'll see where it takes us. It's exciting. We'll be coming your way and these songs are the songs that, I think ... I think they will play themselves."
The Irish Examiner reported that Bono said the band needs to be proud of U2's new material to tour:
"Only if the songs are great can you bear leaving home. We all have families and mates and ... so you know, you're looking for 11 great reasons to leave home and I think we've got them. You know what it's like now, it's like a whole city goes on the road with us. Our kids go out on the road, they get excited about it. It's like ... yeah, it's kind of a whole ... Dublin goes on the road."
After posting the Songs Of Innocence cover image yesterday, U2.com updated its story with extra details about the three formats that will be released next month. There's additional information available from looking around at various online stores, so let's post what we know:
Songs Of Innocence standard CD
1. The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)
2-CD Deluxe Edition - the above, plus a bonus CD with
1. Lucifer's Hands (3:54)
That list with track times is from U2wanderer.org. Meanwhile, Amazon France is also listing "Invisible" as an extra track attached on the end of CD 2 above, but their page has apparently changed a couple times -- showing "Invisible" at times, and not showing it at others.
Vinyl - double white vinyl
The vinyl release will feature the 11-track album on sides 1, 2 and 3, along with "The Crystal Ballroom 12-inch Mix" on side four.
Lastly, Amp Visual has shared a photo of the deluxe CD packaging, which shows that neither the band's name nor the album name is on the cover image.
U2 has revealed -- or maybe "confirmed" is the better word -- the cover image that will be used on the upcoming physical release of Songs Of Innocence.
Seen above, it's a stunning black-and-white photo of drummer Larry Mullen Jr. holding on to his 18-year-old son, Aaron Elvis. According to a story on U2.com, the photo was taken by Glen Luchford as an experiment, but the band saw the photo as a metaphor for the album. Says Bono:
"We've always been about community in U2, about family and friends. Songs Of Innocence is the most intimate album we've ever made. With this record we were looking for the raw, naked and personal, to strip everything back."
The album itself features a number of songs and lyrics that turn the clock back to the band's own experiences as teenagers in and around Dublin.
Bono told TIME magazine already that the Songs Of Innocence cover would feature Larry's son, and this image has started showing up online at Barnes & Noble's website and various Amazon websites. The physical release is set for October 13/14, which just happens to be right around the time Larry's son will turn 19.
When Bono dropped the news of another new album called Songs Of Experience on the same day that Songs Of Innocence was released, the first question that many fans asked was ... when? Bono's original letter on U2.com said the second album would be out "soon enough," but in a recent interview with Brazil's Radio Cidade, he got a little more specific.
Admitting that he's not the most reliable source when it comes to U2 album releases, Bono said it could be 12-18 months before Songs Of Experience is released:
"There's a poet called William Blake who had a big influence on me growing up, and he had these two books of poetry -- Songs Of Innocence and Songs Of Experience -- and it gave him a device, really, to be able to write about the past ... gave us a device to be able to write about the past, while at the same time writing about what's going on now. But I kept those thoughts for Songs Of Experience and they'll be coming out when they're finished, which, I don't think will be too long -- a year, year-and-a-half maybe. But I'm not very reliable on release dates!"
You can listen to clips from the interview on Radio Cidade's website. This quote is from Bono's second answer on that web page.
U2 stayed awfully quiet in the first week or so after the Apple event that launched Songs Of Innocence. But that all changed late in the week as Bono, The Edge and Adam Clayton did a number of radio interviews to talk about the album, the way it was released, the backlash to it and much more.
We've listed those interviews below (at least the ones we've found online) so you can listen in as you wish. A couple pieces of news to look for: Bono told KROQ-FM and BBC2 that he'd like to do some kind of acoustic performance for them soon, perhaps an in-studio appearance. And Bono told Germany's SWR3 that U2 will be back in Germany in May 2015, presumably for live show(s).
There are more interviews still to come. On Sunday, Dave Fanning's RTE radio show will feature a 2-hour conversation that took place Friday at Bono's home outside Dublin. Brazil's Radio Cidade will air an interview with Bono on Monday night. And Portland's KINK-FM will air a Bono interview at 9:00 am Monday.
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