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Thursday, November 15, 2007

U2 At The Disco

posted by on November 15 at 12:54 PM

It’s weird. I’m a total muso-geek, but sometimes you see something and think, “Next time. Not today. I’ll see it again.”

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That’s what I thought years ago when I first saw these remixes of U2’s New Years Day/Two Hearts Beat As One by disco progenitor Francois K. What a strange meeting of talent, but I’ll see it again, it can wait.

In 1983 Francois Kevorkian had ended his job as a mixer, engineer and A&R guy for Prelude records, a job he’d held for nearly five years. He was looking to get into more pop music, using his connections to do remixes of artist as varied as Arthur Russell and Yaz (or Yazoo as they were called in Europe). He was also DJing at some of the biggest, craziest, renowned clubs in New York—Paradise Garage, Studio 54, The Loft. As he grew tired of the nightly grind, he looked to friends in the record industry to throw him some remixing work. He wanted to be in the club, not working the club.

In 1983 U2 was ready to put out their third album, War. Already a success in the U.K., they were beginning to break on our shores after the first album, Boy, but had stalled out with its follow up October and it’s disapointing sales. Island Records execs were looking for ways to expand the market for a band they thought deserved more attention, especially on the eve of a new “landmark” album which would raise their visibility in a time of the burgeoning MTV era.

Some person at Island (were they on acid?) thought it would be good to do some dance remixes of two of the singles from the album. One can only have imagined the dread of U2 band members at the time, who were already very disappointed in their contract with Island. A contract that left them without the rights to their songs, and paid them very little upfront to create their music. But what are you going to do when you’re at the mercy of your label.

Thank god it was Francois K. who got the job. The man behind Yaz’s “Situation” and Dinosaur L’s “Go Bang” was an inspiration. The mixes—especially the opening of “New Year’s Day” with it’s piano line and reverbed guitar before the drums crash in with a less known four-on-the-floor beat and remixed vocal—are great. They hold the tenuous line between rock and disco tightly. One can only imagine pogoing on the floor at Studio 54.

Of course, U2 went on to become “U2.” Francois K. went on to produce, mix and arrange amazing, classic work by Kraftwerk (Electric Cafe, Tour De France), Depeche Mode (Violator), Jody Watley (Don’t You Want Me) and more recently LCD Soundsystem (Disco Infiltrator)

The single is probably not a “rare” find to U2 fans, but to disco lovers, who may pass up on their chance to own a copy, like myself, it is a jewel.

The songs can be found here.

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1

Thanks for the interesting post.

Around the same time Stephen Hague (New Order, Pet Shop Boys) began to produce Murmur for R.E.M. (of course that job thankfully went to Mitch Easter & Don Dixon) and now somwhere there is a sampling of his work with techno bleeps and all of "Catapult."


Posted by IS | November 15, 2007 5:16 PM

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