Mercury U.K. joint managing director Steve Lillywhite has left his role with the label to return to his roots in record production. Lillywhite tells Billboard.biz he will take no time off and will beg

Mercury U.K. joint managing director Steve Lillywhite has left his role with the label to return to his roots in record production. Lillywhite tells Billboard.biz he will take no time off and will begin producing an album by U2 next week. The as-yet-untitled set is due from Island later this year.

"It's the first time I'll have gone in to actually start a record with them in 20 years," says Lillywhite. "I worked on 'The Joshua Tree,' 'Achtung Baby' and 'All That You Can't Leave Behind,' but this will be the first time I've really set up the mikes and done everything for a long time."

Lillywhite also oversaw the band's first two albums, 1980's "Boy" and 1981's "October."

He adds, "I've heard some great songs. The Edge is playing some really great guitar."

Lillywhite, one of Britain's top rock producers, has a list of credits that includes the Rolling Stones, Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, Morrissey and the Dave Matthews Band. In 2002, he was brought to Universal U.K. by chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge. Lillywhite became joint MD of Mercury along with Greg Castell, following the departure of then-MD Howard Berman. Castell is staying at Mercury and will assume sole MD responsibility.

"I've had two great years, and I've loved a lot of it," says Lillywhite, "but really I wasn't that made out for getting up early in the morning. That's 25 years of producing records. I got more and more of an urge to be in the studio, so Lucian and I had a chat and decided it was best that I return to that."

In a statement, Grainge says, "Steve is an incredible music man, and I am delighted we will still be working together."

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