U2-The Joshua Tree (1987)

June 25, 2008 at 4:23 pm | Posted in Album Review, Albums Rated 8/10 | Leave a comment
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What can you say about U2? Quite alot apparently. There are those that love them and those that loathe them. Whatever you say about them, there is no denying that The Joshua Tree is something special. No doubt this is the album that put them firmly on the map despite being around for about ten years and releasing considerable efforts such as War and The Unforgettable Fire. Most people knew them but when Joshua Tree was released tens of thousands actually owned a piece of their work.

Over twenty years old the album still holds its own and actually starts off sounding like a greatest hits album. Such classic singles such as With or Without You, Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For and Where The Streets Have No Name are just so good and well known that its easy to forget that they all come from one album. I believe that this is the point that Bono found his true voice. In earlier releases he sounded like every other new band to come out during the early 80’s, but here his vocals are spot on and the start of the Bono that we have all come to recognise and, most of us, love. This in itself breathes freshness into the bands sound but add that to superior song writing and The Edge’s new guitar sound and we have a giant leap forward from the Irish lads.

There is a nice mix of songs here but they all help with the overall feel of the album. It’s easy to emagine being in the desert that is pictured on the cover as the sound perpetuating every track give off that feel of the desert. Every song seems to fit perfectly after the previous one taking us alone through this journey of the desert. All great albums should have this sense of wholeness within it, rather than being just a collection of songs, even if they are great ones. To me this is what Joshua Tree does. Put any other U2 song in and it wouldnt fit, take one of these ones out and the album would collapse. Each track relies on the others to balance out this mood.

However good your music collection may be, if this is not included then you having a glaring chasm in it. This is U2’s best. Even if you do not like U2 then you should at least try this album. It may change your mind and, if not, then at least you are being open minded.

Where The Streets Have No Name: A great opener for an album.  This track slowly builds up to the hit that it is well known for being.
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For: Another classic single, this track can be read on many levels.  Perhaps this is one reason why it was so popular.  People identified with it in different ways, people’s questioning life and answers, looking for that special someone or that drive in life.  All or none of these can be applied to this song.  Bono surely has his own interpretation of it but he purposely leaves it ambiguous for the listener.
With Or Without You: Maybe the best known, and over played, track of the album, and perhaps their entire career.  Listen to With Or Without You

Bullet The Blue Sky: My least favourite of the ‘big songs’ on here, this track is still quite powerful and deserves its place.  The guitar and drums in the intro again evoke the desert feel.
Running To Stand Still: It’s a tragedy that this track isn’t more well known.  This is such an understated song, Bono tempers his voice well here, not overdoing it but putting the exact amount of feeling into it.  A beautiful and simple pleasure, easily one of the best U2 songs ever. Listen to Running To Stand Still
Red Hill Mining Town: Some of Bono’s finest vocals are present on this track.  Bono screams ‘I’m hanging on, You’re all that’s left to hold on to’ and you can feel it in his voice.
In God’s Country: A catchy song that doesn’t quite impress but is a good listen nontheless and should never be skipped when listening through the album. Listen to Red Hill Mining Town
Trip Through Your Wires: The harmonica that opens the song seems a bit out of place, especially this late on in the album.  There is nothing really special about the song, it’s pleasant enough but too mediocre to follow the previous great tracks.
One Tree Hill: Again, another understated song.  Whilst this isn’t as good as other tracks, it is still a good solid piece.  Just about everything is underplayed, the guitar, the vocals but the lyrics are really quite good.
Exit: For me, this is the weakest of the album.  It doesn’t fit as much as the other songs and it sounds more dated, harking back to a sound of the early 80’s. The slow build up really doesn’t end with anything worthwhile.
Mothers Of The Disappeared: A simple tribute to the women who lose their children to kidnappers and slavery.  A beautiful guitar riff plays gently behind Bono’s soft singing.  A slow track but definitely one to listen to several times before being judged.


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