Joshua Tree (album of the year 1987) was the first album where I really discovered this supergroup, U2. Many U2-hardcorefans holds their third album – War – higher than this, the fifth – Joshua Tree, but I count this as the best. U2, formed in 1976 was named after a word game with “You Too” as well as the name of a U.S spy aircraft. The name was first not liked by Bono, but slowly accepted.
Musically U2 has its roots in post-punk, but later incorporated more popular music and with this album many other influences (more about that later).
For me U2 is all about a clean crisp sound, but most of all, a clean crisp sound that’s absolute unique. With “The Edge” (David Evans) on guitar, Adam Clayton on his solid base, Larry Mullens drive on the drums, and of course Bono’s (Paul Hewson) voice. Things can’t be much better, and more unique.
During this “Best Album Of All Times”-trip I’ve read quite a lot about the artists, and each album. What I found fascinating with this particular album was that U2, before this album described themselves as root less. Roots that they searched before making this album.
Realising that “U2 had no tradition” and that their knowledge of music from before their childhood was limited, the group delved into American and Irish roots music. Friendships with Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Keith Richards motivated the band to explore blues, folk, and gospel music and focused Bono on his skills as a songwriter and lyricist. U2 interrupted the album sessions in mid-1986 to serve as a headline act on Amnesty International’s A Conspiracy of Hope tour. Rather than being a distraction, the tour added extra intensity and focus to their new material. Later that year, Bono travelled to San Salvador and Nicaragua and saw first-hand the distress of peasants bullied in internal conflicts that were subject to US political intervention. The experience became a central influence on the new music.
The search for roots is also described in this interview with The Edge, and the live recordings with the Gospel Choir; for the song With Or Without You (watch video down below)
After releasing the “Joshua Tree” album U2 quickly got two number one singles in U.S: “With Or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m looking For”. Two epic songs at the time, and still is. The tour after the album Joshua Tree was portrayed in the movie “Rattle and Hum”.
What I truly enjoy with U2 (and many of the best bands) is their strive for perfection, and at the same time passion and honesty for what their music/work is about. I’ve always believed that there are no shortcuts for success. It’s all about hard work, and I think that U2 truly reflects that opinion. I hope you like this album as much as I do.
Rare clip with U2 and Bruce Springsteen – Still Haven’t Found What I Was Looking For