The Joshua Tree: 20th Anniversary | Island
By MATT ASHARE  |  December 31, 2007
4.0 4.0 Stars
NO ARGUMENTS: With The Joshua Tree, U2
became stadium-ready international
There are two kinds of U2 fans: those of us who think of 1983’s War (Island) — the band’s third full-length and the one sporting “New Year’s Day” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” — as their big breakthrough, and those who feel the same way about 1987’s The Joshua Tree, the disc that followed the live Under a Blood Red Sky and the equally anthemic The Unforgettable Fire (all Island). Nobody’s really wrong: War certainly elevated U2 above their post-punk/New Wave peers and set them on the path to greatness, but it was with The Joshua Tree and the yearning masterstroke of “With or Without You” that they became stadium-ready international superstars and solidified their relationship with producer Brian Eno.

And so U2 have belatedly begun a deluxe reissue campaign with The Joshua Tree, available both as a two-CD set with a full disc of B-sides, rarities, demos, and the like, and a three-disc set that adds a DVD of a live show in Paris on July 4, 1987, a short documentary about their US tour that year, and a couple of videos — an alternate take of “With or Without You” and an interesting treatment of “Red Hill Mining Town” by director Neil Jordan. The bonus disc alone is worth it: U2 had some great B-sides (“Spanish Eyes,” “The Sweetest Thing”). It’s nice to have all those tunes collected in one disc along with a couple of rough demos (“Desert of Our Love” and “Rise Up”) that have Bono giving directions (“bass and drums,” he says to indicate a short bridge before the Edge re-enters on guitar) as he works his way through half-written lyrics.
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