U2 Exclusive on RSD: Red Hill Mining Town Vinyl

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2017-03-21)

It’s official, U2 will release a new single on Record Store Day. This afternoon, a list of items released for Record Store Day 2017 was announced, and U2 is on the list. Previously, on March 10, Steve Lillywhite had tweeted an image of this vinyl release, but later removed the picture from his social media accounts, and this is the first official confirmation that U2 will release anything.

U2’s contribution to Record Store Day is a 12-Inch vinyl pressing of “Red Hill Mining Town (2017 Mix)” on a special picture vinyl. The vinyl will be released in a clear plastic outer sleeve, to allow the image on the vinyl to be seen. Both the A-Side and B-Side of the vinyl will contain the same track, remixed by Steve Lillywhite for the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree. Lillywhite has confirmed this mix will use music from the original sessions, as well as newly recorded vocals by Bono. The front of the clear vinyl sleeve is stickered to read “RecordStoreDay.Com, The Joshua Tree, 30th Anniversary 1987-2017, U2, Red Hill Mining Town, 2017 Mix”. The vinyl will be limited to 7000 copies. The vinyl will play at 45 RPM and will have the catalog number 5739213. We are told that copies will be numbered on the backside of the release, on the sticker attached to the plastic sleeve. [Update: 2017-04-13, We are told that copies received in store are not numbered, nor do they contain a download code for the song.]

The new track is produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno. It is recorded by Flood. Additional engineering is by Dave Meegan, Pat McCarthy and Declan Gaffney (Bono’s new vocals). The remix is by Steve Lillywhite. And the track was mastered by Scott Sedillo at Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood. The Arklow Silver Band was arranged and conducted by Paul Barrett. Photography on the single is by Anton Corbijn, and the design is by Shaughn McGrath at AMP Visual.

The release information from Record Store Day states:

To coincide with the 30th anniversary of U2’s iconic album, The Joshua Tree, Island Records will release a 2017 mix of ‘Red Hill Mining Town’ on limited edition 12” picture disc, featuring the classic photography of Anton Corbijn in colour. The previously unreleased mix is by Steve Lillywhite, who produced the band’s critically acclaimed debut, ‘Boy’. ‘Red Hill Mining Town’ is famously “the single that never was”, originally discussed as the second single from The Joshua Tree but then put to one side at the last minute in favour of ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’. The Joshua Tree went to #1 in the U.K, U.S., Ireland and around the world, selling in excess of 25 million albums, and catapulted Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr “… from heroes to superstars” (Rolling Stone).

The press release can be seen in PDF format here.

U2 had uploaded, and quickly removed, a 1:10 video of the pressing of the picture disc to its Facebook account (the video has since been reinstated). The audio for that video is the 2017 mix of the track. Sonically, the excerpt reveals a more prominent keyboard sound in the mix, as well as far more obvious brass accompaniment from the Arklow Silver Band. Bono’s vocals during the verse are clearly re-recorded, although the lyrics match those on the original version of the song. The excerpt ends before the chorus, so that part of the 2017 mix remains a mystery for now. This video leaked about 20 minutes prior to the official announcement of Record Store Day 2017 releases. That video is now also available through U2.com.

The vinyl is being issued on Island Records. The image on both sides of the vinyl are images taken by Anton Corbijn in the 80s. The front features U2 on the rooftop of the Hotel Rosslyn in Los Angeles, and the back features U2 at a ghost town in the desert.

The vinyl is being released for Record Store Day which is being held Saturday April 22 this year. Record Store Day is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The day is a day focusing on the independent Record Seller, and originated in North America, but has spread to the UK and Europe, and is now held worldwide. The full list of Record Store Day releases has been confirmed, and is now posted on the Record Store Day site. The site will also list information about stores participating in the day.

This new version of “Red Hill Mining Town” will also feature on 30th Anniversary pressings of The Joshua Tree which are due to be released on June 2, 2017. This mix will not be released on the 2-CD set, but will be included on both the 4-CD, and 7-Vinyl box sets. That release will feature a number of other new and older alternate mixes of songs from The Joshua Tree including the following:

  • One Tree Hill (St Francis Hotel Remix) (04:17)
  • Bullet the Blue Sky (Jacknife Lee Remix) (06:03)
  • Running to Stand Still (Daniel Lanois Remix) (04:40)
  • Red Hill Mining Town (Steve Lillywhite 2017 Mix) (04:53)
  • With or Without You (Daniel Lanois Remix) (05:04)
  • Where the Streets Have No Name (Flood Remix) (06:45)
  • I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Lillywhite Alternative Mix ’87) (04:15)
  • One Tree Hill Reprise (Brian Eno 2017 Mix) (02:10)

U2 has participated in Record Store Day a number of times in the past, starting with 2010’s Black Friday event. In November 2010 they issued the EP “Wide Awake in Europe” on 12-Inch Vinyl and reports limited this to 5000 copies, however, the record company did confirm that there were 6500 sleeves pressed, so it is possible that additional copies were pressed over the 5000 number. This EP featured three live tracks taken from the U2360 World tour, including the never before released “Mercy”. U2 would again participate in Record Store Day’s Black Friday event in November 2013 with the release of “Ordinary Love” on 10-Inch vinyl. The song was released with a new version of “Breathe” on the B-Side of the album. “Ordinary Love” was limited to 10,000 copies. For the 2014 Black Friday event U2 once again contributed, this time issuing a map of Dublin designed by Steve Averill and included in the fan club book “North Side Story” but the version released on Record Store Day was slightly different, and was given out free in many cases, or in some stores, with the purchase of a U2 album.

U2 has only participated in the April version of Record Store Day on one previous occasion. In April 2015 they released a version of Songs of Innocence on black vinyl for Record Store Day. The release was limited to 5000 copies. A number of production issues with this vinyl was reported upon the time of release including some copies being shipped with Tool EPs, and various packaging mix ups. In our History Mix column in 2016 we looked back at U2’s participation in Record Store Day in detail including images of these releases mentioned above.

Record Store Day varies in business from location to location. During the last release on Record Store Day, some reports were that people could stop by mid-day and still have a large selection to choose from, while other users reported finding the store sold out of the U2 moments after the doors opened. For those who choose to go out and get this limited edition vinyl instead of waiting for it on CD, or purchasing it digitally, we wish you luck. An early look through the list did not turn up any other U2 content for sale that day, but we will take a closer look through this evening.

Note: There are international Record Store Day sites for the UK, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Mexico, Italy, Spain and Australia as well as the site for Canada and the US. Links to these sites are available here. Not all releases are available in all countries, so check the lists for the country in which you plan to shop. Some sites will take online orders for RSD items, but traditionally will only start to accept orders for these items after their stores have been opened physically on Record Store Day.

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