- Where the Streets have no Name (5:38)
- I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (4:38)
- With or Without You (4:56)
- Bullet the Blue Sky (4:32)
- Running to Standing Still (4:18)
- Red Hill Mining Town (4:54)
- In God’s Country (2:57)
- Trip through your Wires (3:33)
- One Tree Hill (5:23)
- Exit (4:13)
- Mothers of the Disappeared (5:12)
There was much hype surrounding the release of The Joshua Tree after the already lofty heights of War and The Unforgettable Fire. Would U2 deliver? You betcha. U2 had already a great album in The Unforgettable Fire, but they weren’t content yet. This album, while not as experimental, showed that they had figured out how to properly direct their energy into their songs, thus creating their best album. Driven by their obvious fascination with America, U2 wanted The Unforgettable Fire’s atmospherics, with hard hitting songs on a tight conventional structure. It was Irish music, but with an American blues and gospel influence.
The Joshua Tree is a widely appealing album on a grand scale. The blue collar, working class themes bond seamlessly with a desire to find identity, meanwhile also blending with religion, politics, faith and love. The first three tracks were massive hits and are fan favourites. The slow but steady build-up of ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ climaxes into epical proportions, as was the making of the music video. ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ manages to be even more epical than ‘streets’ and Bono’s impassioned vocals and lyrics speak directly from the heart.
The ballad ‘With or Without You’ is beautifully stunning. ‘Bullet the Blue Sky’ is driven by howling vocals and dark edgy guitars resulting in an astonishingly hypnotic song with political undertones. ‘Red Hill Mining Town’ and ‘One Tree Hill’ are two U2 songs which contain previously unexplored themes of the struggles of the working class. The lyrics remain in typically universal U2 fashion and it never really delves directly into the everyday lives or situations of the ‘blue collar’, nor is it overly political like artist such as Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen.
U2 always hinge on the side of human emotion and spirituality with their lyrics which are as wide incorporating as possible, which is not to say the lyrics are unfocused- because they are not. This also explains the reason they are so well received by all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds. Of the many highlights on this album, ‘Exit’ is truly startling. This amazingly dark and intense song is powered by imposing lyrics and a feverish urgency. ‘The hands that build can also pull down the hands of love’- brilliant!
The Joshua Tree, lifted U2 into the status of biggest and best band of the time. In a nutshell, The Joshua Tree is really just an improved Unforgettable Fire (which is certainly no bad thing). The lyrics have much more focus and edge. The songs are structured and disciplined, and musically they are much better and so is the production. Due to their experience and maturity, U2 had mastered the art of making songs to precision. 9.5/10
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