[30 Years of The Joshua Tree] -- U2's fifth studio album, The Joshua Tree, was released on March 9, 1987. As you might have gleaned from my Flashback's theme, that record is 30 years old this week! I was in my freshman year at Penn State when this record landed. Before college, I knew all the songs on The Unforgettable Fire (1984), the only U2 record I owned, and the singles off War (1983). But that was it. I had about a four year gap in my U2 knowledge. But a guy down the hall in my dormitory (Holmes Hall) was a huge fan of U2, and his record collection introduced me to the rest of this band's history. Not only that, his enthusiasm for U2 was contagious. So, when The Joshua Tree was announced (by posters and flyers as this was pre-Internet), we began a countdown and waited for its release. He bought a copy on the day the record dropped. We took it back to his room and listened to it, start to finish, twice. Right then, we knew this record was going to propel U2 to the next level of stardom. Of the six singles -- six! -- released from this record, only two failed to chart. Of the charting songs, two peaked at #1, one peaked at #13, and one squeaked into the the #44 slot, all of which on the Billboard Hot 100. And the accolades don't end there. Readers made The Joshua Tree #1 in Rolling Stone's annual Music Awards poll. Critics made it Rolling Stone's #2 album of the year. And it scored two Grammy Awards: (1) Album of the Year and (2) Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. For this week's Flashback, lets look at some tracks that don't usually get radio play, but probably should. Read and hear more after the jump.
Flashback #1: "You, you set my desire | I trip through your wires."
"Trip Through Your Wires" is rife with gospel allusions, driven by the steady rhythm team of Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr., and blessed with some earnest harmonica playing by Bono.
Flashback #2: "Yeah you leave me holding on | In Red Hill town | See lights go down."
"Red Hill Mining Town" about the United Kingdom miners' strike of 1984. It was meant to be the second single off the album. However, Bono had trouble hitting the higher notes consistently, so it was dropped from the tour set. If it seems kind of folky to you, that is by design. This is one of the songs that came out of Bono and Edge's exploration of American folk music.
Flashback #3: "See the face of fear | Running scared on the valley below | Bullet the blue sky."
Quite possibly my favorite U2 song, "Bullet the Blue Sky" is unlike anything the band had recorded up to this point in their career. I mean, they'd been political before, but this song is a pure condemnation of US foreign policy in Central America. If you want to know more about the background of this song, and Bono's trip to Central America with Amnesty International, you can check out this video of Bono telling the story about it. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy our final Flashback of the day.
If you want to listen to the full album and catch the songs that aren't in my playlist, scroll to the end of this post for a complete YouTube video playlist. As I've made my three offerings, and the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks, I'll bid you adieu until next week. There are more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.
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Oh, and here's that complete playlist I promised!