Sunday, January 15, 2017
On the turntable this Sunday...The Joshua Tree
The Joshua Tree is the fifth studio album by Irish rock band U2. It was produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, and was released on 9 March 1987 on Island Records. In contrast to the ambient experimentation of their 1984 release The Unforgettable Fire, the band aimed for a harder-hitting sound within the limitation of conventional song structures on The Joshua Tree. The album is influenced by American and Irish roots music, and depicts the band's love–hate relationship with the United States, using socially and politically conscious lyrics embellished with spiritual imagery.
Inspired by American tour experiences, literature, and politics, U2 chose America as a theme for the record. Recording began in January 1986 in Ireland, and to foster a relaxed, creative atmosphere, the group recorded in two houses, in addition to two professional studios. Several events during the sessions helped shape the conscious tone of the album, including the band's participation in A Conspiracy of Hope tour, the death of roadie Greg Carroll, and lead vocalist Bono's travels to Central America. Recording was completed in November 1986; additional production continued into January 1987. Throughout the sessions, U2 sought a "cinematic" quality for the record, one that would evoke a sense of location, in particular, the open spaces of America. They represented this in the sleeve photography depicting them in American desert landscapes.
The Joshua Tree received critical acclaim, topped the charts in over 20 countries, and sold in record-breaking numbers in the UK. According to Rolling Stone, the album increased the band's stature "from heroes to superstars". It produced the hit singles "With or Without You", "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", and "Where the Streets Have No Name", the first two of which became the group's only number-one singles in the US. The album won Grammy Awards for Album of the Year and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1988. The group supported the record with the Joshua Tree Tour throughout 1987. Frequently featured on critics' lists of the greatest records, The Joshua Tree is one of the world's best-selling albums, with over 25 million copies sold. U2 released a remastered edition of the record in 2007 to commemorate its 20th anniversary. In 2014, it was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the US Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry.