Deep Cuts: U2

The Joshua Tree was the very first CD I ever bought – can you believe that? It wasn’t Europe or Huey Lewis & the News or White Lion; it was arguably U2’s greatest album and maybe the best album of the decade. I listened to the disc over and over and when it became too scratched and my prehistoric CD player couldn’t play it, I went out and bought another copy. In those days, I didn’t explore a band’s back catalog like I do now. I think I may have bought a copy of Under a Blood Red Sky just to hear “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” but I didn’t go out and buy The Unforgettable Fire or War to see what the boys from Dublin did before they delivered this beautiful work to me.

In the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to explore the band’s back catalog of album releases and most of their B-sides as well. Much like my Rolling Stones Deep Cuts article, I’ve compiled a list of all of U2’s best music that I feel is underappreciated. Take a listen to these album cuts spanning U2’s entire career and maybe you’ll discover a few new songs. Be sure to check out Part II of our U2 Deep Cuts, which features live tracks, non-album tracks, remixes and covers. Also take a look at the list of essential U2 and the band’s biography.

1) “An Cat Dubh / Into the Heart” – These two songs from Boy are listed as separate tracks but are seamless on the record. The group resurrected these tracks and performed them at many of the shows on their last tour. Both tracks are certainly raw, but you can hear the classic U2 sound starting to form. “An Cat Dubh” is Gaelic for “The Black Cat” – the song is apparently about a woman that Bono had an affair with after a falling-out with his longtime girlfriend and future wife. There isn’t much to the lyrics of “Into The Heart,” but they seem to be about growing up.

2) “Out of Control” – First released on the three-song single Three, this song was re-worked by producer Steve Lillywhite before appearing again on Boy. Bono has been quoted (Hot Press, 1979) as saying that this song is about “waking up on your 18th birthday and realizing…that the two most important decisions in your life have nothing to do with you – being born and dying.” Certainly one of the catchier songs off Boy, this track is largely ignored by casual fans.

3) “Fire” – This song from October was released as a single in parts of Europe, but not in North America. Despite being one of the more memorable songs off of the first two albums, it wasn’t really a hit for the band and was subsequently left off their Best of 1980-1990 greatest hits compilation.

4) “Gloria” – The second single from October was also never officially released in the US, though the import sold well enough for it to peak at #82 on the US singles chart. This track features great guitar work by the Edge and a rare bass solo from Adam Clayton before it kicks into high gear.

5) “Wire” – Released on The Unforgettable Fire, this song is about heroin addiction. U2 has stayed mostly drug free throughout their career, but had friends who died from various addictions. It did chart as a single, but it still remains unknown to a lot of casual fans as it rarely gets radio airplay. Listen for the growing U2 sound in Bono’s vocals during the chorus and the Edge’s stuttering guitar throughout the song.

I included 21 songs in Part 1 of my U2 Deep Cuts playlist, and another 16 live tracks, non-album tracks, remixes and covers in Part 2. And don’t miss my U2 Essentials and U2 profile.


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