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"We're suspicious of doing what's expected of us." — Edge

Column: off the record ..., vol. 13-572


off the record, from @U2

The last few weeks have seen a great flurry of activity on the new U2 album front, with lots of sightings of the band in New York. Via Twitter, Island Records founder Chris Blackwell and U2 associate and record producer Steve Lillywhite have let us know that the band have been finishing songs at Electric Lady Studios in Manhattan. After an incredibly long period of inactivity -- more than 50 months since No Line On The Horizon was released in February 2009 -- there is no doubt relief among U2 fans that we might get to hear some new tracks before the end of the year.

Until recently, Electric Lady is just about the last of the most famous studios that U2 has not recorded in. Just look at the credits on their various albums and singles over the last 33 years, and following the early days of recording almost exclusively at Windmill Lane, the band have recorded nearly everywhere -- Abbey Road and Olympic Studios in London, Sun Studios in Memphis, Hansa Ton Studios in Berlin, South Beach Studios in Miami, Hilversum Studios in The Netherlands, and Sunset Sound in Los Angeles -- as well as their own recording facilities in Dublin and France. I hope they get the great New York sound and vibe they are looking for at Electric Lady, founded by Jimi Hendrix in the late 1960s. Some truly great albums have been recorded there by the likes of David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, The Clash, Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga and Daft Punk.

The new album will be produced by Danger Mouse, aka Brian Burton, who has been associated with this new album since late 2010. Having played it safe for quite a while by using a mixture of Eno/Lanois/Lillywhite/Flood as producers, it is great to find U2 finally taking a risk with a completely different style of producer and musician. For those not familiar with Danger Mouse, he is arguably best known for being one-half of Gnarls Barkley, who enjoyed the best-selling single of 2006 with "Crazy." Danger Mouse is also well known as a producer, working with Gorillaz on their 2005 album Demon Days, and initially found fame as a producer with his own piece of work, The Grey Album, a mashup of Jay-Z's vocals from his Black Album combined with instrumentals from The Beatles' White Album. It was controversial at the time, as no permission had been sought to use the tracks, and never saw official release, but is of course widely available on the Internet. If you ever get a chance to hear it, do so, as it gives a great insight into the workings of this unique producer.

I think it's more likely than not that the next U2 tour will be indoors. If this is the case, the likelihood of seeing U2 will be more difficult due to demand far exceeding supply. While I don't condemn the sale of concert tickets on eBay -- without it I would have seen far fewer U2 shows -- a recent happening in the United Kingdom has largely gone unnoticed.

Since last month, sellers of concert tickets in the U.K. can no longer use eBay and instead must use sister company StubHub to list tickets for sale. One advantage of StubHub might be the fact that the prices are fixed by sellers -- it is not an auction -- but buyers on eBay had the advantage of picking up a bargain with a low winning bid. Oh, to go back to the days where there was no Internet, and I had to queue overnight at the box office to get my hands on four tickets, three of which I would then swap via adverts in the music press for other concerts!

And finally, next weekend sees the return of Glastonbury, following a year off, with the last headliners in 2011 including our favorite Dublin four-piece. Here's another opportunity to watch that concert...

Enjoy your week!

© @U2, Govern, 2013.