U2
The Joshua Tree


5.0
classic

Review

by Adam Thomas STAFF
September 11th, 2009 | 47 replies


Release Date: 1987 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Resplendent and transcendent.

As I type this, U2 are one of the biggest acts on the planet. Their tours gross in the hundreds of millions of dollars, they've sold over 145 million albums, and they've won more Grammy's than any other band in the award's history (22 and counting). There is no disputing their impact on Rock and Roll. When looking at U2's distinguished career, another fact is glaringly obvious: none of this would be possible without their 1987 release The Joshua Tree. To put it plainly, it is U2's masterwork. War, with its singles “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “New Year's Day”, showed that the young Irishmen could write anthems with the best of 'em, and The Unforgettable Fire saw U2 presenting a cohesive album for the first time in their career, but with Joshua Tree U2 finally let go of the lingering trappings of their post-punk upbringing to make a gorgeous album filled with a captivating sense of cinematic grandeur that captures not only the imagination but the spirit.

Joshua Tree is one of those rare albums whose songs are custom built for the arena but they still manage to feel hauntingly intimate. No song exemplifies this better than the heavenly “Where the Streets Have No Name”. The angelic keys that begin the song build into an ethereal glory that only intensifies when the Edge's nuanced and shimmering notes ring out like church bells. Bono's transcendent vocals wrap “Where the Streets Have No Name” in a comforting zen, bursting at the seams with an optimism that despite all the odds breaks free of the darkness. This optimism is carried over into the spiritual sojourns of “I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For” and “With Or Without You”. Bono's quest for God runs deep in the pairing, but it always portrays itself as the personal journey that it is, a personal plea for understanding. Even the haunting addiction tale of “Running to Stand Still” is made even more powerful by the feeling that just maybe at the end of all the darkness there is a light, however small that light may be.

U2 don't forget the political spirit that backed their early hits. The jarring “Bullet the Blue Sky” is a biting critique of the United State's Reagan-era affairs with Central America that is driven by bassist Adam Clayton's powerful low end. His militant bass riff flows through the entire track, giving room for the Edge's wailing, effects laden experimentation and Bono's dark layered vocals. Even though a tribute to Bono's personal assistant Greg Carrol who died in a motorcycle crash, “One Tree Hill” references the Chilean songwriter Victor Jara who was tortured and executed during the US backed coup that led to the rise of Augusto Pinochet. U2 pick a cause closer to home on “Red Hill Mining Town”. Inspired by the British mining strikes of 1984, it is a moving ode to the blue collar worker with Bono's vocals taking command of the bouncing beat.

The Joshua Tree is the sound of U2 taking that next step, growing from rock stars to the legends that they are today. It is a defining moment in the history of Rock and Roll that manages to transport the listener not only mentally but also physically. It is, without a doubt, classic.



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user ratings (1214)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
AtavanHalen
September 11th 2009


17927 Comments


Not really needed but great nonetheless


mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2009


17946 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This optimism is carried over into the spiritual sojourns of “I Still Haven't Found What I'm For”

such an awesome song but u forgot a word

Athom
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2009


17231 Comments


thanks fixed
There is no better way to open an album than Where the Streets Have No Name.

thebbqshrimp
September 12th 2009


1207 Comments


A truly amazing record.

CelestialDust
September 12th 2009


3157 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you've inspired me to take another listen to this, great review

ziroth
September 12th 2009


1252 Comments


I really need to listen to this. Where the Streets Have No Name is amazing.

thebbqshrimp
September 12th 2009


1207 Comments


Also, DGAF 'bout how pretentious and hypocritical and full of himself Bono is... man's got some pipes.

fromtheinside
September 12th 2009


19224 Comments


i'm just not a U2 fan, but great review nonetheless.


Digging: Techno Animal - The Brotherhood of the Bomb

Athom
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2009


17231 Comments


, DGAF 'bout how pretentious and hypocritical and full of himself Bono is... man's got some pipes.

word

Tulannical
September 12th 2009


2051 Comments


i need to listen to this again. maybe it'll grow on me

ninjuice
September 12th 2009


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Not really needed but great nonetheless

None of the other reviews were as good as the album though. This is.
Even though a tribute to Bono's personal assistant Greg Carrol who died in a motorcycle crash, “One Tree Hill”

Shouldn't it be "through"? Both work in my mind atm I guess.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2009


17231 Comments


methinks you should try harder.

fromtheinside
September 12th 2009


19224 Comments


some mag just reported this the greatest album of all time -- that or most influential i can't remember but it was on the radio and they were pissed.

Titan50
September 12th 2009


4588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fine review, fine album

Streetvulture
September 12th 2009


361 Comments


very good review, but I can't really stand the music of U2 except for a couple of fantastic songs

ScorpionStan
September 12th 2009


1834 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

There is no better way to open an album than Where the Streets Have No Name.

So true.

charlesfishowitz
September 12th 2009


1794 Comments


sad eyees croooked crosses

iin

gods

coountry

STOP SHOUTING!
September 12th 2009


639 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not a great fan but I agree this is a good album.

Just need one more for my hundred.

STOP SHOUTING!
September 12th 2009


639 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Don't think there should there be an apostrophe in "Grammys".

And that's it, thank you (raises bat to the sky).

Nagrarok
September 12th 2009


8325 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Where The Streets Have No Name is one of the best openers ever, and album is indeed classic. Great work on the review.



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