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U2 – The Joshua Tree (1987)

January 17, 2017


Exemplary logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming


[Album 505A/1001]

It would be misleading to say that how you feel about The Joshua Tree boils down to how you feel about Where The Streets Have No Name/I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For/With or Without You.

However, it would be equally misrepresentative to ignore the gargantuan shadow that the aforementioned opening trio casts over the rest of the record.

Therefore, I’ll divide the record into two posts.

Today’s will cover the opening trio, tomorrow’s will explore the remaining eight tracks.

And just for fun, I’ll emphasize this 3-8 track split by comparing it to one of the worst possible starting Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Hands: the 3-8 (offsuit).












Given the strength of tracks 1 & 3 especially, it’s not surprising that these opening tracks are the ones that tend to jump to mind when thinking about The Joshua Tree.

But what of the remaining 8 tracks?

Any hidden gems to be found?

[To be concluded]


Verbalize the Positive

I appreciate that Jay @ Assholes Watching Movies is always entertaining to read, whether the movie being reviewed should be watched ASAP or should be avoided at all costs!

From → 1980s

  1. Definitely heart for the first one… was that the one they did the cool rooftop video for?

    Indifference for the next two though!

    • Yup,the cool roof top it was for! Shut It Down….!

    • It feels like that first one may be one of the tracks that even non-U2 fans can at least admire, if not enjoy.

      Oh and I forgot to mention, I referenced you HMO recently in class – I believe you referred to U2’s 2014 iTunes album launch as ‘malware’ – when we were talking about how new distribution strategies can sometimes go amiss!

      • Haha that sounds about right. It was/is malware! I still hear people complaining about it being stuck in their iTunes haha… I managed to exorcise it from mine though!

        Fair play to Bono and Co. though, they have done some good tracks through the years. The non-malware years anyway.

      • And I do appreciate that U2 did try some new things – I wasn’t a big fan of “Pop” but good for them for not just trying to do The Joshua Tree Part II for the rest of their career

      • I think when bands get that big they have to move with the times I suppose? Whereas a Party Slam bands can just play Party Slam forever! To their five adoring and loyal fans!

      • But those 5 fans, are they ever loyal!

      • That’s true. They’ll defend Party Slam until the end of time!

  2. fyfeopedia permalink

    I’m away on vacation for a few days, so won’t be able to check up on you, but speaking as a New Zealander you better darn well like ‘One Tree Hill’.

    • fyfeopedia permalink

      Also, I’m not a big U2 fan in a lot of ways, but Boy and Joshua Tree are both incredible albums.

    • Spoiler alert – I’m a fan!
      As a New Zealander, have you seen the New Zealand/Canada movie Bonjour Timothy? There’s a scene in the film where the Canadian girl is driven to One Tree Hill – since then, it’s been near the top of my ‘songs to be heard at the location of the song name’ list. Enjoy your holiday!

  3. Safe to say we can all agree on the beginning intro on Streets…..just builds and builds……Great Post…..U2 with the Poker Face!

    • I’m glad you mentioned the Poker Face Deke – there’s an author named Chuck Klosterman who wrote an essay with the repeating question, “is Bono for real, or is Bono full of ____?” – it’s hard to say, so he’d probably be tough to play cards with!
      What an intro indeed – among my favourite opening tracks of the 80s, cheers Deke!

      • I read Klosterman’s Fargo Rock City years ago. Was my favourite book about growing a metal fan in the 80s until I read Brent Jensen’s No Sleep Til Sudbury…Its a friggin classic read!

      • Surprisingly, that’s just about the only Klosterman I haven’t read – I remember Mike being really impressed with it too, added to the list with Jensen!

  4. Probably my favourite U2 album. That’s a result of it being the new U2 album at just the right time, I guess – it made an impression when I was a nipper. My dad is, or was, a fan of the band, so he played their stuff quite a bit and I was the right age to soak in the big songs here… after all, this one marks U2 becoming the stadium act they are now, I guess.

    Anyhoo, With Or Without You is the only track here I feel a bit indifferent about. Probably heard it too often and it’s generally used in quite a sappy way. Not a bad song, but I’m maybe just immune to it.

    But my favourite tracks aren’t either of the other two. I’ll save revealing them until you cover the rest of the album.

    • I like that way of describing a tune that doesn’t move you one way or another – song immunity!
      I’m quite intrigued as to which tunes are the standouts for you among the remaining 8 (I’ll post part B tomorrow). I picked 3 more as ‘diamonds’ among the rest, I’m curious if we’ll have overlap!

      • Such an important part of music is feeling it resonate, huh? Like walking barefoot in grass and feeling the earth. If that makes sense. It’s the difference between great song and recognising a well crafted song. But yeah, I’m equally curious to learn what your picks are!

      • That makes plenty of sense – I may have to borrow that for the next ‘well crafted’ record I review that doesn’t necessarily speak to me, thanks in advance J!

      • No worries, Geoff. Happy that it made sense and you think it sensible enough to borrow!

  5. I may hate on U2 now (and since Achtung Baby) but this record remains pretty much the band’s high point, for me. I’ve intended to write it up at some point, tell my whole story involving this record. You’ve reminded me! Good thing, too, ‘cos U2 isn’t often on my mind, these days.

    As for these threetunes, they are what they are. At this point, they’re enduring hits whether we like them at all or not. But I’m looking more forward to your next post. I like the other 8 tracks waaaaaaaaay better.

    • Nice point about those songs now being inescapably those songs, they are what they are!
      I’m interested to see if our standouts from the remaining 8 line up – as I was saying to J earlier, there’s three more gems in there if you ask me!

  6. Neat idea for reviewing the album. I remember a MuchMusic interview with Daniel Lanois. He said he tried to get “power” out of all these songs. The VJ asked him, “But where is the power in ‘With or Without You’? He answer, ‘Adam’s bass’.

    • I can seeg that I suppose – it definitely propels the song.
      I’d say the power in that song comes from the solo the Edge could have played at the end – but didn’t. Something about that restraint shows admirable control to me in a powerful way!

  7. This is a great album. And hearts on all three, but admittedly, it took me a while to warm up to With or Without You…but I like it now

  8. The rooftop video had a lot to do with that album’s notoriety. But you’re completely right about everyone judging the album based on those three tracks. I realize I don’t even remember the other songs, and I used to like that album back then. But now, it feels to me that most of U2’s albums have not aged well, aside, perhaps, from War. It’s funny how we often hear about misunderstood and underappreciated pioneer artists who were ahead of their times, but not often do we reflect on a band’s tendency to produce album that are absolutely perfect at the exact moment they are released… even if they don’t always stand the test of time, musically or lyrically. Looking back, I think U2 may be such a band. It’s not as cool as being an underdog pioneer, but it remains quite an accomplishment.

    • And that ‘perfect at the exact moment of release’ might be true of their 2000 album too!

      • Indeed. I was also thinking of Achtung Baby. Musically, at least, a song like Numb would seem utterly outdated now, but it did feel right in 1991…

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