U2 have never been a band to do things by halves and the new deluxe vinyl reissue of their 1987 album The Joshua Tree is as over the top as diehard fans will have hoped. The original 11 track album – on which the Dubliners cemented their claim as the great stadium rockers of their generation – is here expanded to a seven-disk opus, supplemented by a book of photography by The Edge (sadly the images don’t include a peek at whatever he’s hiding under his beanie hat).
Revisiting 30 years on, it’s obvious why The Joshua Tree created such a splash. Its is a masterclass in open-veined bombast — an acquired taste, to be sure, but one to which millions responded either side of the Atlantic.
Some might argue that the band’s determination to connect with their public tips into earnestness on tracks such as ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ and ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’.
But this is preachiness delivered with flair and fervency — and it’s no mystery that the music remains wildly beloved. Of the bonus cuts, the most immediately accessible is a live recording of a Madison Square Garden concert, wherein the quartet climb down from the pulpit and deliver zinging renditions of ‘Bullet The Blue Sky’ and ‘In God’s Country’, their back-handed valentine to the US.
Elsewhere, an insight into U2’s creative process is provided with an alternate recording of ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ (the spry tempo surely discombobulating for those raised on the original) and b-sides such as ‘Sweetest Thing’ and ‘Rise Up’.
Some of the material here was previously available on a 20th anniversary boxset and, after several hours of patented Bono-yelling even the most ardent U2 devotee may find themselves turning claustrophobic. Nonetheless, this is a gorgeously produced package that stands as testament to U2’s position as rock ’n roll’s preachers in chief.
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