U2 - A Warm Welcome
The first studio album that U2 recorded and released in October 1980, having signed to Island Records in March 1980. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, and recorded at Dublin’s Windmill Lane Studios. In America the album was not released until March 1981, which was to tie in with a three-month promotion tour. The front cover featured an innocent young boy on the front, the cover was designed by Steve Averill, and the boy was “Radar” (Peter Rowan) the younger brother of Guggi from Virgin Prunes.
Boy opens with ‘I Will Follow’, which the opening riffs on the track are some of the most memorable of U2 songs. This song on the album features milk bottles being played along with a xylophone. This over the years has become a favourite of the fans at live shows. It also holds the distinct honour of being the most released live track ever; at my last count it had been released at least 14 times on vinyl, CD and promotional videos.
‘Twilight’, with its ambiguous lyrics, has been argued what it the meaning has been for years. A different version of this track appeared on the b-side of the single ‘Another Day’, and a live version of ‘Twilight’ was included on one of the cd versions of the single for ‘Sweetest Thing’, and had been recorded at Red Rocks, Denver in June 1983.
‘An Cat Dubh’ and ‘Into The Heart’, I have been reliably informed over the years that ‘An Cat Dubh’ in Gaelic actually means “the black cat”, and that the song is about a girl that Bono saw while split from his long time girlfriend, now wife Ali. This is a slow track compared to others on the album, and transforms straight into ‘Into The Heart’ without any break. Those of you that have only ever owned Boy on CD will think that it is out of sync with the track listing on the cover. ‘An Cat Dubh’ also appeared as one of the tracks on the CD single for ‘Sweetest Thing’, again it was a live version that had been recorded at Red Rocks in June 1983. When played live it always segues in to ‘Into The Heart’ and does that on the single also.
‘Out Of Control’ had already been released as a single before its inclusion on the album. The album version is a more refined and polished version than that which appeared as the a-side on ‘U2-3’, which was released in Ireland. The track was written by Bono on his eighteenth birthday, and it speaks of the mixed emotions of changing from a boy to a man.
‘Stories For Boys’ was originally one of the three tracks on U2’s first single ‘U2-3’. The version on the album again is a far more polished version, than that of the single. The track is ostensibly about comic book characters that boys read about while growing up. There are those who say that the track actually has gay references in its lyrics, but they are in a minority, thankfully. Again a live version of this track appears on a version of the CD single ‘Sweetest Thing’.
‘The Ocean’, is the shortest and also the quietest track on the album. Bono reads from Oscar Wilde, over the musical accompaniment.
‘A Day Without Me’ opens with some echoey guitar work by The Edge. It was released as a single in August 1980, but never made the charts. This appeared on the live at ‘Red Rocks, Under a Blood Red Sky’ video, and was a popular live song in the early 80’s.
‘Another Time, Another Place’ is punctuated by the drumming of Larry Mullen Jnr, and Bono singing about heaven. This was a popular live song during the tours of the early 80s.
‘The Electric Co.’was a very popular live track during the tours of the early 80s. Many fans will remember that Bono literally would climb the stage during this song, or pull someone from the crowd to dance with. This track also appeared on the live album ‘Under A Blood Red Sky’ and the video that went with the release of the album.
‘Shadows And Tall Trees’ was one of the first tracks ever recorded by U2 and appeared on their second demo, at the Keystone Studios in Dublin and was recorded for the first time in November 1978. The album version has The Edge playing acoustic guitar for the only time on the album.
This album came out post-punk in 1980 and had to fight was the endemic sounds of the New Romantics and the use of electronics as used by the new romantic sounds. Boy shows U2’s early rock and punk influences, and this really was the acorn from which a might oak would grow.