The Joshua Tree album cover
The Joshua Tree


Mercury Music Group

There is some kind of epochal argument embedded in this album, because soon enough U2 go from town heroes to supervillains. But if you want to hate, would you really put your hand on a stack of Bibles and say you don’t believe in Track 1 (“Streets Have No Name”), Track 2 (“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”), and Track 3 (“With Or Without You” aka “Ross and Rachel”)? They got the power to torture us all because, for ten years, they were devil magicians. The ability to pace and reframe songs with just guitar, bass, and drums—this practice went light years into the future because of U2. And Bono, so easy to throw into the canyon now, was still a true wizard of dynamics on this album. It’s actually a bit like another Eno project (though he didn’t produce this one): Bowie’s Heroes. Half of this is pure hits, and the other half is a heat-dazed wasteland of echo and harmonica and steel.

Sasha Frere-Jones

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