U2’s ‘The Joshua Tree’ 30 Years Later: Is It Their Greatest Album?
I guess you could say I found exactly what I was looking for in an album when I heard U2’s ‘The Joshua Tree’.
Thirty years ago this March U2 released their massively successful fifth studio album ‘The Joshua Tree’ and just recently announced a 30th anniversary tour in its honor. The album was both a commercial and critical success and helped catapult the band to iconic status. But, as long-time U2 fans know, it was not the only big-selling, critic-pleasing album the band has released over the years. So, having said that, is ‘The Joshua Tree’ U2’s greatest album?
‘The Joshua Tree’ was my gateway to U2. It was Christmas of, I believe, 1991 when I finally got the album millions had already owned. My Mom got me a gift certificate to Strawberries Records. I ended up getting ‘The Joshua Tree’ and The Rolling Stones ‘Tattoo You’ on cassette. Man, was that a great use of a gift card or what? Those two albums have gone on to become two of my favorite classic rock albums and ones I still listen to regularly.
Of course, I knew all about the hits on ‘The Joshua Tree’ and what hits they were. The first three tracks – “Where The Streets Have No Name”, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “With Or Without You” were massive singles with the last two going all the way to #1. It’s the rest of ‘The Joshua Tree’ that, for me, puts it at the very top of the list of U2 albums.
As any U2 fan knows the band doesn’t just rely on hit singles to carry an album. Each track is labored over and meticulously scrutinized before they decide on adding it to the finished product. With ‘The Joshua Tree’ it really paid off. “Bullet the Blue Sky” may be the band’s most aggressive rocker to date and a highlight of their live shows. How can you not want to chant “One hundred!…Two hundred!” along with Bono every time you hear it? It’s classic.
Deep tracks like “Running to Stand Still, “Red Hill Mining Town”, “In God’s Country” really show the range of Bono’s vocal abilities. From Sinatra-like crooning to deep from within-the-soul howls these are his finest moments put on tape. As for The Edge. What more can be said? In an era when guitarists felt the need to be the loudest and fastest players around, The Edge was a refreshing alternative as his simplistic, “less is more” approach to the guitar not only sounded great then but it’s far outlived and out-shined all the flashy guitarists he has since left in his wake.
On “Trip Through Your Wires” Bono not only provides the vocals but he also adds some nice harmonica work. It’s on “One Tree Hill”, however, that the U2 front man delivers in spades. At around the 4:10 mark of the song the emotion coming from within him is spine-tingling. I can only imagine the goose-bumps the engineers were getting as they listened on the other side of the studio glass the day this was recorded.
U2 “ONE TREE HILL”:
The album finishes out with two more classic deep tracks – “Exit” and “Mothers of the Disappeared”. The final track is, without a doubt, one of my favorite U2 deep tracks. A heavy track with heavy lyrics sung by a man with a heavy heart as he sings about children who had been secretly abducted and/or imprisoned in El Salvadore, Argentina and Chile.
So now I ask you: Is ‘The Joshua Tree’ U2’s finest moment? For me it is but not by a long shot. I would put ‘Achtung Baby’ and ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ right behind at two and three. I want to know what you think. Your opinion is neither right nor wrong but it’s most definitely welcome. Go to the comment section below or comment on The Home of Rock ‘n’ Roll i95’s Facebook page. It’s your turn U2 fans…