“The Joshua Tree” by U2 (No. 23)

U2 "The Joshua Tree" album coverIt’s a little daunting to try to find something original to say about an album like The Joshua Tree. Released in 1987, The Joshua Tree sold something like 25 million copies, While it’s no Rumors or Thriller, The Joshua Tree has been rather thoroughly reviewed many times over.

I was aware of U2 before The Joshua Tree, but I couldn’t say that I was a major fan of the band. But when The Joshua Tree came out in ’87, it really couldn’t be ignored. It was all over the radio, MTV, and appealed to kids my age as well as aging boomers trying to keep up with current music. (Boomers who were probably younger than I am today, I might add. Sigh.)

The thing is, everybody was right. The Joshua Tree is a fantastic album. From the opening strains of “Where The Streets Have No Name” to the final notes of “Mothers of the Disappeared,” there’s not even a mediocre song on the album.

If you grew up around that timeframe, or if you listen to Album Oriented Rock (AOR) today, odds are you already know about half the album if not more. Five of the 11 tracks were released as singles, and a few others were staples of classic rock/AOR playlists by the mid-90s.

More than any other song on the album, I keep putting “Bullet the Blue Sky” into playlists or just throwing it on my media player because I love the guitar and bass on this piece.

“In God’s Country” pulls me along every time, and I still love the lyric “we’ll punch a hole right through the night.” The dynamics of the song, bringing the tempo down a bit just to explode again, bring me a lot of joy. Is “Trip Through Your Wires” the first U2 song to feature harmonica? Not sure, but I love its use on this one.

“Exit” lulls you with a low, throbbing bass line and quietly spoken lyrics. Everything about this song is perfect. Is it just me, or is The Edge channeling Neil Young just a bit in this one? It’s got a similar “almost losing control” vibe, but coupled with The Edge’s signature sound.

I struggled a bit between Joshua Tree, Boy, and Achtung Baby for this slot, but realized I was over-thinking it. This really is the U2 album, and the one to grab if you were only going to have one album by the band.

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