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An Album You Must Own: The Joshua Tree

posted Mar 29, 2011, 7:28 PM by Golden Knight

Posted in Music

By Matt Ramirez


U2 released their debut album, entitled “Boy”, in 1980. Seven years, three albums, and an appearance at Live Aid later, they would become the biggest band in the world. With “The Joshua Tree”, U2 crossed over all boundaries, making it the number one album of the 80’s. After its release, it was hard not to ignore the band’s musical statements.

 “The Joshua Tree” is considered by many, including myself, to be U2′s masterpiece. There are some of U2′s most brilliant tracks on this record, and I think it is an essential album, for almost anyone. “The Joshua Tree” is one of those rare albums whose songs are custom built for the arena but they still manage to feel hauntingly intimate.

 Musically it draws from a variety of different sources. While it is primarily a rock album, elements of folk, gospel, and blues all are present. The album art of the band in Death Valley, California well represents the albums’s dark, atmospheric music.

 The first half of the album sounds very happy and its lyrics optimistic. Yet the later songs are a different story. It probably has the darkest sound that U2 has ever made in that time period. (That particular sound would later be revisited by albums such as Achtung Baby, Zooropa, and Pop). The last two songs are the best examples. “Exit” begins with deep, fast bass line that sets the tone for the rest of the song. Bono sings very quietly, almost inaudible. Once the Edge comes in the song goes nuts. Larry is constantly crashing the cymbals, making this song almost metallic. “Mother’s Of The Disappeared” is another dark slow song, a song Bono wrote for the mothers at the Plaza de Mayo.

“The Joshua Tree” (originally to be entitled “The Two Americas), is the sound of U2 taking that next step, growing from rock stars to the legends that they are today. It is a defining moment in the history of rock-and-roll that manages to transport the listener not only mentally but also physically. It is, without a doubt, classic.