The Joshua Tree

Last week’s classic album (I’m still a week behind) was U2’s Joshua Tree.

Some Historical Context

I don’t remember listening really early U2. I remember liking New Years Day when it came out. But then Under a Blood Red Sky was released and everyone played it all the bloody time. I grew to hate it so much that I didn’t give The Unforgettable Fire much of a chance at all. I still can’t listen to Pride (In The Name Of Love) without flinching – although I rather like the rest of that album.

It was The Joshua Tree that changed my mind and convinced me that U2 were worth taking seriously. I loved this album when it came out. I became a huge U2 fan and started buying all of their albums. It’s only relatively recently that I realised they’ve become really rather dull over the last fifteen years or so.

But I’m looking forward to listening to this again. I haven’t heard it for a while.

The rest of this blog post will be written as I listen to the album.

The Songs

1. Where The Streets Have No Name

One of my favourite ever openings to an album (but I’m beginning to suspect that I write something like that rather a lot). Although I’m starting to realise that I know find it hard to listen to without subconsciously mixing it into Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You. Thank you Neil Tennant!

2. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

Another classic. Perhaps I slightly prefer the version on Rattle and Hum with the gospel choir.

3. With Or Without You

Three songs in and it just gets better and better. A repeated four chord sequence never sounded better than this.

4. Bullet The Blue Sky

This is where the band unlock the stadium rock group they’ve been hiding away. This is a great song, but you need to hear the live version on Rattle and Hum to appreciate its true power.

5. Running To Stand Still

After the bombast of Bullet The Blue Sky, this is the perfect follow-up. It’s a lovely, gently swirling song with great hooks.

6. Red Hill Mining Town

Side two (remember vinyl?) doesn’t start anywhere near as strongly as side one did. That’s not to say that this isn’t a good song (it really is), just that it’s hard to compete with Where The Streets Have No Name.

7. In God’s Country

It wouldn’t be hard to believe that this came out of the same songwriting session as Where The Streets Have No Name. It has a very similar feel. And it’s similarly enjoyable.

8. Trip Through Your Wires

Possibly one of the weaker songs on the album. Not sure how much I like that harmonica.

9. One Tree Hill

One of the dangers of front-loading side one with all of your best songs is that the middle of side two can start to flag a bit. While I’ve been listening to these classic albums, I’m surprised how common a phenomenon this is. And this album is no exception.

10. Exit

I always think I can’t remember this one. And then it gets going about two minutes in and I think, “oh yes, I really like this one”.

11. Mothers Of The Disappeared

Another one that takes a while to get going. Not the strongest end to the album, but a good song nonetheless.

In Summary

I think this is U2’s best album. I know it’s unfashionable to like them these days. And I know that their recent output can be a bit ropey. But that doesn’t really matter when we still have older stuff like this to listen to.

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