Born On The Bayou (Godfather Records GR 386)
The Bayou, Washington, DC – March 3rd, 1981 (Early Show): 11 O’Clock Tick Tock, Touch, An Cat Dubh, Into The Heart, Another Time Another Place, Electric Co., Things To Make And Do, Stories For Boys, Twilight, I Will Follow, Out Of Control. Bonus tracks, Poets, Memphis, TN – May 9th, 1981: The Ocean, 11 O’Clock Tick Tock, An Cat Dubh / Into The Heart, Another Time Another Place, Cry / Electric Co., Boy Girl, I Will Follow, A Day Without Me
The first show on this new release contains U2’s VERY FIRST SET on their 2nd trip to North America in support of the recent album “Boy”. This would be U2’s first extensive tour of the US (9 East Coast dates were previously played in December of 1980) and would span three full months (March, April and May) of 1981. The tape also happens to be the earliest American performance pressed to disc. [A couple nights later at J.B. Scott’s in Albany, NY, U2’s support act would be Boston MA’s mighty Mission Of Burma… what a great show that must have been… For a nice little complimentary ’81 post-punk time capsule check out Burma’s fantastic “Signals, Calls, and Marches” EP, but I digress…]
These tapes both appear to be radio broadcasts and/or SBD’s which have been remastered to sound LOUD. But loud is definitely good in this case… The first source (~45 min) appears to be missing the slithering opening tune, “The Ocean”… cut out for some reason by Godfather – an extremely poor choice in this reviewer’s opinion. Also likely cut (I don’t have the original source to A/B with this) is the intermission between “I Will Follow” & “Out Of Control”; probably removed due to time considerations. The full length of the Washington, DC source should be 47:20. Bono’s vocals and Larry’s military snare somewhat dominate in the mix, but all instruments come through loud and clear. I’d guess the first show is FM sourced.
Bonus Tracks: it appears that the second show is more recently surfaced… and may be a really great audience recording or a matrix of SBD/AUD prepared for FM broadcast. Minor nearby crowd noise is evident in places. At ~34 min, it’s missing: I Will Follow, Things To Make And Do, Stories For Boys, and the encores-11 O’Clock Tick Tock, The Ocean, I Will Follow. The length of the Memphis, TN source should be ~54 min.
Track 17 is listed on the artwork as “I Will Follow” but is actually “Out Of Control”.
Too bad the second tape could not be issued separately or as a second disc. It’d be great to have both of these shows complete and unedited. In fact, why not make this a 2CD set and add one more great-sounding early U2 concert (suggestions include: April 9, 1981 – Minneapolis, MN – Uncle Sam’s, April 18, 1981 – Detroit, MI – Harpo’s or April 21, 1981 – Pittsburgh, PA – The Decade) with all three fully intact? Guess I’m too much of a completist or the concept too impractical. But having the main show incomplete is REALLY unfortunate. [The same problem (as I see it) occurred with Godfatherecords AC/DC release “Dutch Damnation”, which, according to the CMR review, cut 3 tunes from the main show that were actually broadcast]. As it stands, total disc time is a generous 79:10.
The magnificent sound quality compares favorably to other early U2 shows on CD such as “Another Time, Another Place” (The Swingin’ Pig TSP-CD-093) and “Touch” (Discurios DIS 103CD). I also prefer the in-yr-face sound of this new release to the recent “In the City of Angels” (a GoodFellas Production FELL 07).
This truly was a different era in music and in the world of U2. Their drive is propulsive and they sound like an eager young band on a mission. Overall this is an exciting, fresh, bright & authentic sounding new release with both sources (albeit partial) making their silver debut!
Dim the lights, turn up the volume and you’ll get a feel for what it was like to see U2 in a tiny club back in ’81 – just 4 guys in a small room playing music for friends.
Fan Review of the Memphis, TN show at Poets:
By Dave Weil
This isn’t a full review but it should be noted that this show was the day before Bono’s 21st birthday (the next day was a travel day). The band asked the crowd to sing Happy Birthday to Bono in his honor, after which, they doused him with champagne and hit him with a 25 lb bag of flour, completely covering him with a sticky paste.
Also, the local college station, WLYX FM-89 had run a contest called The U2 Scavenger Hunt, where listeners were to submit the most outrageous item starting with the letter “U”. The band would then choose the best item on stage sometime during the show and the winner would receive a small pocket-sized camera (a “spy camera” fitting in with the U2 theme). The band had already picked the top three items out of the dozen submissions prior to the show and I believe that it was Edge who announced that the second place winner was a specimen jar with a preserved uterus in it (don’t remember what number 3 was) and the first place prizewinner was a homemade “ukelele umbrella”, which was exactly what it sounded like, a ukelele with a large umbrella surgically attached to the headstock.
To clarify the review, the reason why Godfather didn’t include “The Ocean” for the Bayou show is because it does not exist. It was not recorded.
Personally I like how Godfather remasters their U2 releases LOUD as mentioned above. Ditto on this sounding much different however very enjoyable even for a casual U2 fan like me.
These are not only superb recordings but catch a much different and hungry sounding U2 playing like they had something to prove. This is raw and vintage “new wave” U2 kicking things up with infectious swagger.