The Joshua Tree turns 20

U2 has always been a BIG band. Big sound. Big ideas. Big ambitions. It's one of the reasons they've always been so polarizing. Even before they became the biggest band in the world in the late 80s (a position that they've held pretty much ever since), people either loved them or hated them. It seems like for every brilliant artistic statement they've made (The Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby), they've followed it up with misstep (Rattle And Hum, Pop). But you've got to give them credit that they've never been afraid to take risks. And in 1987, they shot for the moon and hit it.

Today mark's the 20th anniversary of the release of their landmark album
The Joshua Tree. Building on both the commercial and artistic success they'd had with The Unforgettable Fire, it managed to sound both grander and rootsier than its predecessor. It balanced themes both personal ("I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," "One Tree Hill") and political ("Bullet The Blue Sky," "Mothers Of The Disappeared"). It has appeared near the top of just about every list of the best rock albums since its release, and has sold over 20 million copies worldwide (according to their label, Universal). And borrowing an idea from the Beatles, it spawned one of the most iconic music videos of all time.

I was a junior in high school when it came out, and it seemed to be one of those albums that everybody owned. Even the people who had previously dissed the band weren't immune to its appeal. It is one of those rare albums that doesn't seem to have a weak moment. Listening to it again today, I was struck by how timeless it sounds. The records released by their contemporaries that same year (INXS' Kick, Prince's Sign O' The Times, Bruce Springsteen's Tunnel Of Love) all sound much more of the age they were recorded in. The production on The Joshua Tree seems just as fresh today as it did twenty years ago.

It would be silly to post a track from the album. Even your parents have probably heard every song on it at least twenty times. Instead, here is one of the two b-sides from the era that didn't make it onto The Best Of 1980-1990 bonus disc. This one was released on the I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For single.

U2 - "Deep In The Heart" (mp3)

photo by
Anton Corbin


my favorite band of all time (next to the Church) and definitely a timeless album. Sounds as good today as the first time I played it.
Rattle and Hum was a misstep? Hmmm, I didnt get that memo.
They have the potential to be quite annoying at times, but 20 years on I still can't understand how "Trip Through Your Wires" wasn't a huge hit.
U2 is my favorite band and The Joshua Tree is one of the best albums ever (second to Achtung Baby).

Great Review, man... but Pop was a good album too... people just misunderstood it...


ps: thx for the mp3...
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