Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I remember when U2's The Joshua Tree came out. I was a senior in high school, and there was a real sense that this was a special album. U2 had been an "alternative" or "new wave" band, but on thier Unforgettable Fire album tour, all of the sudden they were headlining multiple nights at arenas, and singing huge anthems about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They met the mainstream in a big way, but strictly on their terms. I don't know if people felt that they were the "last great rock band" (not a description that I agree with, but I've heard it), but you certainly had the sense that this band was only going to get bigger, and that they were here for good. There weren't many new-ish bands making the jump to arenas that point, it just seemed like a big moment in the career of an awesome band. I seem to remember my hometown newspaper doing a two page record review of the album; I'd never seen that kind of fanfare for an album before.

That said, when I heard the first single - "With Or Without You," I wasn't really digging it. But I think I can now chalk that up to my age: I was bummed with the fact that they were coming up with a ballad, it wasn't even uplifting like "Pride (In The Name Of Love)," which was the first song from Unforgettable Fire that I'd heard. At any rate, I soon heard "Bullet The Blue Sky," which was as Hendrixian as The Edge ever got, and so I was happy to get the album the day it came out.

I have never really tired of the album, and it only sounds better and better with each passing year. "Where The Streets Have No Name" is so uplifting. I've heard Edge say that even if the energy at a U2 concert is lagging a bit, that song brings the whole place to their feet. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" is another one that I didn't love at the time - now I love that one too.

I really love the lesser-known songs on the album: "Trip Through Your Wires" (which they did on their most recent tour, which was one of the highlights of the show), "Red Hill Mining Town," "One Tree Hill," and especially "Exit," which I think is maybe the most underrated song in the U2 catalog (and I feel that there's a lot of competition for that title). It is SUPER intense. But, unfortunately, on CD it begins with the gospel-ish ending of "One Tree Hill," then a few seconds of silence, before the song begins.

So, I hear that U2 is reissuing the album - surprising news, as U2 seems to kind of shun too much looking back, and they've released three compilations in the past few years. But I'm glad they're doing it, if only to fix "Exit." I have most of U2's b-sides from the era, but on Amazon's tracklisting, there are a few things that I don't recognize: something to look forward to. It looks like it will have two versions of "Silver And Gold" - the band's b-side version, and the version that Bono recorded with Keith Richards and Ron Wood for the Sun City compilation.

Sometimes I feel a bit weird about extended reissues of certain albums and films. I'd argue that The Joshua Tree is absolutely perfect the way it came out, it really was a perfectly realized vision. But, the fact that the extra stuff is on a seperate disc makes it OK for me. I know I'll be picking that one up.

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