There are several “legendary” pieces of music from U2 that we fans might never get to hear, no matter how long we wait, whether patiently or impatiently, or what we might do. I’m thinking of things like the very early song “Concentration Cramp,” the complete soundtrack that Bono and Edge wrote for that stage production of A Clockwork Orange, or that remix of “Playboy Mansion” that was supposed to be included on the commercial single for “Hands That Built America.” Another one, and this one is important because it relates to the song I’m writing about today, is the early song “Pete the Chop.” The story that I’ve heard and read states that the song had been performed live a few times in 1979 and 1980, and that it was ready for inclusion on the Boy album, but the band didn’t think very highly of the track, so it was not included on the album. Apparently, though, someone in management (some of the stories I’ve read stated that this was Paul McGuinness, other stories that it was someone with Island) thought that the song was a sure-fire hit, so they would continually ask “Whatever happened to Pete the Chop?” Around 1983, the members of U2 apparently thought that that phrase would make a good song title, so they wrote and recorded a new song and gave it the name “Treasure (Whatever Happened to Pete the Chop).” “Treasure” was then released as a B-side to “New Year’s Day,” and the rest, as they say, is history.
Except, it isn’t. Some of us would love to hear a studio version of the original song “Pete the Chop.” Some reports that I have read stated that the music to “Treasure” was simply “Pete the Chop” played backwards. Now, I’m not a musical prodigy, but it sure doesn’t sound like that to me. The opening guitar riff in “Treasure” is similar, but it’s not the same, and it certainly isn’t the reverse of what is in the original song. Both riffs start high and end low. If one was reversed, it would start low and end high. Both songs are good pop-songs, but I’d love to hear “Pete the Chop” after Steve Lillywhite got his hands on it, all polished up and pristine. Maybe someday we’ll get some grand, massive boxed set that’s got all the unreleased tracks and outtakes that we’ve ever wanted.
As I said above, “Pete the Chop” was played to an audience a few times in the early days–five times, that we know of, although more performances are definitely possible. “Treasure,” on the other hand, has never been performed in front of a crowd. Sure, both songs are pretty obscure, but I’d be willing to bet that the hardcore U2 fans in the audience would relish a live performance of either song. I know that “I Will Follow” is one of the band’s signature songs, and that it is a tradition to play it on every tour, but just once…maybe in Dublin, or something, it would be really awesome if the boys played “Pete the Chop” instead, just for old times sake.