Better music, absolutely. Better sound? That requires a more nuanced answer.
We grade albums on a curve, so the most we can say for this album is that the best pressings strike us as being the truest to what we imagine were the intentions of the artists and engineers.
Not Demo Discs by any means, but records that sound right for who made them and when they were made.
This is also the last U2 album we have found with much in the way of audiophile quality sound, since the dreadful Achtung Baby, Zooropa and Pop were the next three to be released, and we have never cared for any of them.
The recordings of the Eighties are often tricky when it comes to sound, and U2 is not a band we have ever associated with audiophile-quality sonics. We’ve been through a number of their albums now, including this title, War and October, and while Demo Quality Sound may never be in the cards for these guys, we have at least found pressings that do a much better job communicating the music than others.
Bottom line? While this may not be a record that’s going to blow anyone’s mind, it does do a very good job of bringing this music to life in a way that most copies, the CD, and of course any Heavy Vinyl pressing cannot begin to.
If you’re a fan of U2, we guarantee you simply cannot find a better sounding copy than this (unless you trade up to one of our even hotter stampers).
By the way, the British copies we played were awful. Perhaps there are good ones out there but we sure didn’t hear any.
One More Thing
If you have the time and like the album I recommend you watch the DVD on the making of The Joshua Tree. It’s not only entertaining but, if you’re like me, you’ll come away with a whole new appreciation for the effort that went into the recording of it. There is a lot going on in these mixes and it would have to be a very special stereo indeed that could manage to bring even half of what’s on the tape out into the open where it could actually be heard and appreciated.
A Must Own Modern Rock Record
Where the Streets Have No Name
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
With or Without You
Bullet the Blue Sky
Running to Stand Still
Red Hill Mining Town
In God’s Country
Trip Through Your Wires
One Tree Hill
Mothers of the Disappeared
AMG 5 Star Rave Review
It’s a move that returns them to the sweeping, anthemic rock of War, but if War was an exploding political bomb, The Joshua Tree is a journey through its aftermath, trying to find sense and hope in the desperation. That means that even the anthems — the epic opener “Where the Streets Have No Name,” the yearning “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” — have seeds of doubt within their soaring choruses, and those fears take root throughout the album, whether it’s in the mournful sliding acoustic guitars of “Running to Stand Still,” the surging “One Tree Hill,” or the hypnotic elegy “Mothers of the Disappeared.” So it might seem a little ironic that U2 became superstars on the back of such a dark record, but their focus has never been clearer, nor has their music been catchier, than on The Joshua Tree.