'Two wheels over the edge of the cliff...'

30 Jun 2008
In his sleeve notes for the forthcoming remastered release of October, Edge remembers a 'desperate struggle to communicate against the odds'.

Next month, remastered releases of Boy, October and War, U2's first three studio albums, go on sale.

Each release comes with bonus tracks, rare photography and new liner notes. This extract comes from Edge's notes recalling the period leading up to the release of October in September 1981.

'Within the space of a year we had released our first studio album Boy, toured around the known world playing numerous small gigs and doing radio and press interviews and made it home to start work on the fabled "difficult second record". We were spent and running a bit scared. The now famous missing lyrics, stolen from a dressing room in Portland, didn't help our sense of foreboding. We knew we were less than totally secure at Island Records having had a modest hit with I Will Follow, and we knew that we had very few new songs of merit.

We did what we always do at times of crisis; we went into a huddle and partly out of necessity and partly out of an instinct to return to familiar surroundings we went back to where we started, to Mount Temple School, to try and write some material in the weeks running up to the first studio session.

In a small basement room, next to the boiler house of the old Victorian school building, we set up our gear and tried to craft a few musical ideas that we could later develop into songs. Many of the parts and basic arrangement ideas for the October album came together here. These rehearsals were difficult and tense and I remember many arguments.

Although Steve Lillywhite had made it clear that he never worked with a band more than once we persuaded him to produce this album, so when we went into Windmill Studios we at least had a familiar face behind the mixing desk. Steve's unfailing optimism and can-do attitude became a hugely important resource.

It was obvious to everyone that we were driving with two wheels over the edge of the cliff, and it drew from us, and particularly Bono, a level of creativity that we had not seen before. Half-baked musical ideas that we started working on in the morning would be finished songs by the evening. Vocal melodies and sections of final lyric would be composed in real-time on the microphone. This was stream-of-consciousness songwriting.

Listening back now, I am amazed at where we got to with this approach, but out of this experience we learned techniques of writing that we still use today. This creative fight for survival also became the overarching theme of the record. Faith versus fear, the desperate struggle to communicate against the odds....'


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