This makes me so happy, you have no idea.
You may recall back in October that I had questions about the August 21, 1979, show where several record company executive came to see U2 play, and the guys from EMI Records supposedly left in the middle of the show to go watch a band called The Specials play on The Old Grey Whistle Test.
The problem? There’s no record of The Specials appearing on Whistle Test in August. I did all kinds of research on them and came to the conclusion that this October 1979 appearance was the only one they did around that time.
So, what happened to solve this? Today on my lunch break from work, I spoke on the phone with Chas de Whalley, the producer of the “U2-3” and “Another Day” singles, who also attended the same Baggot Inn show as the guys from EMI Records.
This is what Chas said about the recording session for “U2-3” in early August, its release in September, and then the Baggott Inn gig:
“The record wasn’t any good. The moment I got on the plane to go back to London, I knew London wouldn’t like it. I knew it wasn’t any good as a record. Paul McGuinness knew it, too. He had it remixed by the Boomtown Rats soundman, and they put it out in Ireland and it went gangbusters. So, quite clearly there was a demand for this group and there was something happening. And so it was on the strength of that that Muff [Winwood, of CBS Records] said, ‘Let’s go over to see them again.’ And we did go over, and I think there were other record companies there, too….
Bingo! So we know The Specials appeared on Whistle Test in October, 1979, and here’s Chas de Whalley saying CBS records only decided to go see U2 again because of the success of “U2-3” in September, 1979.