Already Amazing Album Gets Even Better
Since Beatlemania took over the world back in the 1960s, rock ‘n’ roll struggled to find another band to ever reach those meteoric heights. Though rock as a genre was still popular through the last three decades of the twentieth century, it was hard to identify one band as leading the charge over all the others; so many good ones come to mind. But that changed in the 1980s when U2 introduced themselves. By 1987, the Irish rockers had gathered a solid following and were doing well commercially, but it was their fifth album, The Joshua Tree, that catapulted them from rockstars to world figures. And, now, 30 years later, a reissue has come out with a gold mine of new material.
The original album was naturally one of the most important rock records of the last 50 years, but that’s already a given. It contained all of U2’s signature elements: an airy ambiance in the background that served as a vessel for the Edge’s delay-heavy guitar and Bono’s majestic vocal range and thought-provoking lyrics that mixed politics, faith and humanitarianism, among other things.
For the reissue, U2 fans get almost four full hours of music. There are the original 11 tracks, all of which are fantastic in their own right, but now they are accompanied by a powerful live show at Madison Square Garden, a small group of remixes and a collection of B-sides and demos from the album sessions that didn’t make it onto the final product. The concert has the band playing all their biggest hits to date in majestic fashion. Bono does very little talking between songs, which allows for even more music. The B-sides are the true fun discovery, though. In U2’s case, the songs that didn’t make it onto The Joshua Tree are just as good as some of the ones that did — the band could have released these as an album at the same time and it would have sold millions of copies.
This is the album that also set the bar so high that, in terms of quality and impact, the band themselves would struggle to top it on future releases. 1991’s Achtung Baby came close, but other albums, though fantastic by any other band’s standards, simply didn’t measure up to U2’s astronomical heights.
Overall, The Joshua Tree is still as fantastic as it is ever was, and with the addition of all the new material it only gets better. U2 will always be an incredible group and one of the most influential rock bands of the late 20th century.