Three (U2 EP)

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EP by
Released26 September 1979[1]
RecordedAugust 1979
StudioWindmill Lane Studios (Dublin)
GenreRock, post-punk
LabelCBS Ireland
ProducerU2, Chas de Whalley
U2 chronology
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic2.5/5 stars[2]

Three, also known as U2 3,[3] is the debut release by Irish rock band U2. It was released in Ireland on 26 September 1979 through the CBS Ireland record label.

Three compromises three songs recorded with producer Chas de Whalley at Windmill Lane Studios in August 1979. "Out of Control" appears on the A-side, with "Stories for Boys" and "Boy-Girl" on the B-side, the result of a listener poll on Dave Fanning's radio programme; the release is variously referred to as a single and an EP. It was the group's first chart success, selling all 1,000 copies of its limited-edition 12-inch vinyl almost immediately. Three reached number 19 on the Irish Singles Chart.

"Out of Control" and "Stories for Boys" were re-recorded the following year and included on the band's debut album, Boy. Three will be reissued for Record Store Day Black Friday in November 2019 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of its original release.


In August 1979, U2 recorded demos with producer Chas de Whalley at Windmill Lane Studios, marking the first of what would be many recordings there by the band during their career.[4] The following month, three songs from the session were released as Three by the CBS Ireland label in the Irish market only.[5] Three was produced as a 12-inch and subsequently a 7-inch vinyl single, with an initial run of 1,000 individually numbered copies. The track order for Three was determined by a listener poll on Dave Fanning's radio show. Callers chose "Out of Control" to be the A-side of the record, with "Boy/Girl" and "Stories for Boys" as runners-up, constituting the B-side of the record. Three was the group's first chart success, selling all 1,000 copies of its limited edition 12-inch vinyl almost immediately. It reached number 19 on the Irish Singles Chart.[6]

Following Three, the band released the singles "Another Day", "11 O'Clock Tick Tock", and "A Day Without Me" before releasing their debut studio album, Boy, in 1980. "Out of Control" and "Stories for Boys" were re-recorded for Boy. Live versions of the two songs were also later featured on various releases, such as the "Sweetest Thing" single and the Live from Boston 1981 digital album. "Out of Control" also made an appearance on U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle, Ireland. A live version of "Boy–Girl" was later featured on the "I Will Follow" single. The original EP made its CD debut in 2008 as bonus tracks on the Boy reissue. It has been reissued six times, but it remains a rarity and was first released on compact disc in 2008 as part of the bonus disc with that year's reissue of Boy.

Performance history[edit]

U2 performed all songs from Three live regularly in the band's formative years. The earliest known performances of "Out of Control" and "Stories for Boys" took place in August 1979. "Out of Control" was written on lead singer Bono's eighteenth birthday.[7] "Boy/Girl" may have also been played at this stage: a song named "In Your Hand" may have been related in some way to "Boy/Girl" but no recordings of it exist. The first confirmed performance of "Boy/Girl" took place in October 1979. All three songs were regularly performed on the Boy Tour in 1980–1981, although "Boy/Girl" appeared less than the others. "Stories for Boys," which premiered at an unknown date in August 1979, was used as a concert opener a few times before being moved to late in the main setlist, nearer to "Out of Control", which was typically the last song of the main set. In mid-March 1981, the Three songs were united to close the main set. "Stories for Boys" was first, followed by "Boy/Girl", which segued into "Out of Control". This trilogy lasted until the end of the tour.

"Boy/Girl" and "Stories for Boys" did not remain in the band's live repertoire long after the end of the Boy Tour. "Boy/Girl" was played three times afterwards, while "Stories for Boys" was initially frequently performed on the October Tour before it was removed from the setlist in late March 1982. "Out of Control", however, remained in the band's live show for longer, rotating with "Gloria" as the concert opener on the War Tour and the first leg of the Unforgettable Fire Tour. It then appeared twice late in the Unforgettable Fire Tour before returning sporadically to the setlist on the third leg of the Joshua Tree Tour and three performances on the Lovetown Tour. "Out of Control" then had an absence from live shows of over eleven years. It was played again on 15 May 2001 on the Elevation Tour. After initial infrequent performances proved popular with fans, it became more regular in the setlist as the tour progressed. It was retained on the Vertigo Tour for special occasions; it was played a total of nine times, including instances in Toronto and Los Angeles where U2 performed it with local bands. "Out of Control" made its U2 360° Tour debut in São Paulo.[8] It made 5 other U2 360° appearances. The song was also the closer to the Glastonbury 2011 set. The Vertigo Tour also saw part of "Stories for Boys" return to the setlist – Bono acknowledged its lyrical relationship with "Vertigo" by snippeting some lyrics from "Stories for Boys" at the end of "Vertigo". This snippet was a regular feature of shows on the Vertigo Tour's first leg but was done only sporadically on the second leg and never on subsequent legs. On the Innocence + Experience Tour, "Out of Control" was played second on the setlist, rotating with "The Electric Co." amongst other early U2 songs.

40th anniversary reissue[edit]

Three will be reissued for Record Store Day Black Friday in November 2019 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of its original release. It will be pressed on a 12-inch vinyl single weighing 180 grams and cut at 45 RPM, and will be available in a limited edition of 17,000 copies. All three songs will be remastered for the reissue.[9]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Bono; all music is composed by U2.

Side 1
1."Out of Control"3:58
Side 2
1."Stories for Boys"2:39



Chart (1979) Peak
Irish Singles Chart[6] 19

See also[edit]



  • McGee, Matt (2008). U2: A Diary. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-84772-108-2.


  1. ^ Sams, Aaron; Kantas, Harry. "U2 – "Three" Single". Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  2. ^ Griffith, JT. U2 Three (Single) Review at AllMusic
  3. ^ Edge, The (2008). "Rare and Unreleased Tracks". Boy (Remastered deluxe edition booklet). U2. Island Records. B0010946-02.
  4. ^ McGee (2008), pp. 23, 29
  5. ^ McGee (2008), pp. 21–24
  6. ^ a b "Irish Singles Chart". The Irish Charts. Retrieved 23 November 2009. Note: U2 must be searched manually.
  7. ^ "Bono in San Antonio". U2 Magazine. No. 3. May 1982. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2007.
  8. ^ "U2 Sao Paulo, 2011-4-10, Morumbi, 360° Tour – U2 on tour".
  9. ^ Copsey, Rob (9 October 2019). "Record Store Day Black Friday: Lizzo, Lewis Capaldi and The Weeknd among limited edition releases". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 11 October 2019.

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