Ratings Stunt

A Celebration sleeve

In a blatant attempt to grab some traffic, I thought I’d continue the series of non-LP singles from the 80s with the world’s biggest band.

I’ll admit it – I really liked U2 in the early part of their career. I used to hold both ‘Boy’ and ‘October’ in really high regard. But the last time I listened to the former record I found it almost unlistenable in its naivety.

Strange as it may seem now, neither of the above albums were massive hits. ‘Fire’, the first single from ‘October’ was the band’s first Top 40 hit and it only squeaked in there.

So when the band released ‘A Celebration’ U2 had something to prove. The song didn’t do the business, peaking at 47, perhaps because it lacked the sort of push that a pre-LP single would have received. But even today it sounds pretty respectable to these ears.

It is, however, a song that you will struggle to find on a U2 CD because it has never been on any of the band’s compilations (although it has appeared on the odd general pop compilation). In that context, it’s U2’s ‘The Puppet’ but I’ve never read anything about why this is the case.

Curiously, it shares with ‘The Puppet’ the dubious distinction that the flip side has proved more enduring both in terms of subsequent exposure on CD and in a live context. ‘Trash, Trampoline and The Party Girl’ was an atypical U2 song of the time but apparently it has been played as recently as 2001. So here are both sides of this particular 7”:

U2 – A Celebration (7” single)

U2 – Trash, Trampoline and The Party Girl (B-side)

And, yeah, I’ve spotted the flaw in the ratings stunt as well. If no-one was bothered with the song when it came out, why should it be any different now?

You can buy U2 records here.

3 Comments

  1. Ed says:

    A couple of friends of mine who are big U2 fans told me that the line about ‘I believe in the atomic bomb’ was one of the reasons the single struggled. I don’t know why it’s not been on many of the subsequent comps, though it can be downloaded from iTunes UK.
    I quite like the early stuff still, in fact I’d much rather listen to Boy and October than ‘Atomic Bomb’ or ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’. the early stuff has been somewhat neglected on the compilations to date -no doubt yet another, more complete compilation will be released in a year or so that put son all the singles in chronological order or something!

  2. Ed – Do people really not buy singles based on 1 (ironic) line? Maybe it didn’t sit well with the church set at the time when quite a big deal was made of U2’s Christianity.

    I think if I felt the urge to dig out 1 U2 album it would most likely be Achtung Baby although I haven’t listened to October in a long, long time.

  3. Ed says:

    Achtung Baby would still be my favourite, although the one that has grown on me most over the years is ‘The Unforgettable Fire’.

    As for the one ironic line – I think your theory about it not sitting well with the church set is quite possibly true, to say nothing of anti-nuclear lobbies. It’s a great song, though, and thanks for posting it.

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