FOR those of you planning to stuff the Christmas stocking with the highly anticipated new CD from U2, which was due to drop in November, you'd better think again. Bono made an announcement on the band's website last weekend that the album won't be ready for release until early next year.

But it's all good, according to the frontman. U2 are right in the thick of the process, and things are going so well that they don't feel any need to rush what they hope will be their best offering in an already illustrious back catalog of classics.

"We've hit a rich songwriting vein," Bono told on a call from the south of France, where the band has been recording (and having summer get-togethers with the likes of Brangelina, French prez Nicolas Sarkozy, et al).

"It gets a bit dark down here but looks like we've found diamonds, not coal. I thought a while back we might have the album wrapped by now, but why come up above ground now if there's more priceless stuff to be found?"

Bono says they've written 50 to 60 new tracks and they're all winners. And he promises fans that the wait will be worth it.

"We know we have to emerge soon but we also know that people don't want another U2 album unless it is our best ever album. It has to be our most innovative, our most challenging . or what's the point ?

"It's a brand new chapter for us, and everyone we've played the tracks to has said that musically it feels like another departure.

"The last two records were very personal, with a kind of three piece at their heart, the primary colors of rock - bass, guitars and drum. But what we're about now is of the same order as the transition that took us from The Joshua Tree to Achtung Baby."

So it seems like it'll be a Happy New Year in U2 land, especially as the band will also hit the road for a tour.

Though he's hard at work completing the new music, guitarist The Edge flew to Toronto to take part in the city's annual film fest last weekend. He was on hand to promote a documentary called It Might Get Loud, which focuses on three guitar masters - Edge, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and Jack White of the White Stripes - talking about their craft.

"(The guitar) is an instrument that seems to be so versatile and it seems to be able to make the jump to the next generation and where music needs to go to," Edge told the media during a press call.

"It's so great when you see a resurgence happening and a guitar player comes through that's saying something with the instrument that you've never heard before."