Top Artists – U2

U2 / The Joshua Tree – Their Best Sound and Music

More of the Music of U2

Hot Stamper Pressings of 5 Star Albums Available Now

Based on the U2 albums we have played, we must consider this the band’s Magnum Opus, their single greatest achievement on record. We don’t know of any U2 album with better music or better sound.

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 Eighties

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

We consider this album U2’s Masterpiece. It’s a recording that belongs in any serious Rock Music Collection.

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U2 – War

More U2

  • More presence, clarity and resolution in the midrange, and less of the congested, dark sound we hear on so many of U2’s records
  • Full-bodied, smooth analog sound is key to the best pressings, and here it is on both sides
  • 5 stars: “Opening with the ominous, fiery protest of “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” War immediately announces itself as U2’s most focused and hardest-rocking album to date. Blowing away the fuzzy, sonic indulgences of October with propulsive, martial rhythms and shards of guitar, War bristles with anger, despair, and above all, passion… U2 always aimed at greatness, but War was the first time they achieved it.”

When you get hold of a good pressing, War can be a surprisingly good sounding album; much better than The Joshua Tree (although that may not be saying much).

Many of the LPs we played were as dry and flat as a cassette. Not this copy, even though it had the same stampers as some of those that did not earn particularly good sonic grades.

The vocals were present and breathy, even silky on some songs. There was real clarity and resolution throughout the midrange, not the congested, dark sound we’ve heard on so many of the records from this band. (The ones that don’t sound thin and aggressive, that is.)

Our advice: Drop the needle on “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” turn it up good and loud and get ready to rock. Check out the drums at the opening — they are right there. The drums on Joshua Tree sound like cardboard boxes covered in blankets. Not these.

You can thank producer Steve Lillywhite for the hard-driving sound on War. He keeps the sound simple, clean and punchy.

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U2 – October

More U2

More New Wave Recordings

  • Outstanding sound throughout with both sides rating a strong Double Plus (A++) for their big, bold sound
  • Balanced, musical and full throughout – this pressing is a big step up from many of the other originals that we played
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl, with each side playing Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “… when U2 marry the message, melody, and sound together, as on “Gloria,” “I Threw a Brick Through a Window,” and “I Fall Down,” the results are thoroughly impressive.”
  • If you’re a U2 fan, a killer copy of their classic album from 1981 belongs in your collection

Recordings from the ’80s are always a bit tricky in terms of their sound quality, and U2 is not a band we have ever associated with the highest audiophile-quality sonics. We’ve been through a number of their albums now, including War, The Unforgettable Fire, and The Joshua Tree, and while Demo Quality Sound may never be in the cards for these guys, we’ve at least found a handful of pressings that do a much better job of communicating their music than others, and certainly a great deal better than any Heavy Vinyl reissue or digital source.

It’s not often that we come across audiophile-quality sound for U2’s early titles. The average copy of this record sounds as dry and flat as a cassette. Not this one, or to be more precise, not this pressing. (more…)

U2 – The Joshua Tree

More U2

More 5 Star Albums

  • An outstanding pressing with excellent sound throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Big and rich, with correct tonality from top to bottom, strong bass and plenty of space – this copy sounded just right to us
  • Stunning sound for the album’s biggest hits, including With Or Without You, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, and Where the Streets Have No Name
  • 5 stars: “With the uniformly excellent songs… the result is a powerful, uncompromising record that became a hit due to its vision and its melody. Never before have U2’s big messages sounded so direct and personal”
  • Based on the U2 albums we have played, we must consider this the band’s Magnum Opus, their single greatest achievement. We don’t know of any U2 album with better music or better sound.
  • Better music, absolutely. Better sound? 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 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 soundstage is huge, and the overall quality of the recording is big and bold. Most copies of this album are either thin, shrill and aggressive — like most U2 albums — or thick and veiled. This one is smooth and natural sounding, with the added benefit of some deep punchy bass. (more…)

U2 – The Unforgettable Fire

 

  • Excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from the first note to the last – this is the way the album is supposed to sound
  • Pride (In the Name of Love) is the big hit on this one, and the sound is appropriately glorious on this vintage copy
  • “U2 took their fondness for sonic bombast as far as it could go on War, so it isn’t a complete surprise that they chose to explore the intricacies of the Edge’s layered, effects-laden guitar on the follow-up. Working with producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, U2 created a dark, near-hallucinatory series of interlocking soundscapes … ranking among U2’s very best music…”

We had a big stack of these to compare and not too many of them were in a league with this one. Most copies are too dark and murky to really come to life, but this one is had no such problems. (more…)

U2 – Boy

  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this wonderful pressing of Boy – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is big, open, rich, full-bodied and spacious, with the performers front and center (as well as left and right)
  • “From the outset, U2 went for the big message — every song on their debut album Boy sounds huge, with oceans of processed guitars cascading around Bono’s impassioned wail. It was an inspired combination of large, stadium-rock beats and post-punk textures.”

Recordings from the ’80s are always a bit tricky in terms of sound quality, and U2 is not a band we have ever associated with the highest audiophile-quality sonics. We’ve been through quite a number of their albums now, including War, The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree.

While Demo Quality Sound may never be in the cards for these guys, over the years we’ve stumbled upon (stumbling being the only way to go about it) pressings that are much better at communicating their music than others, and certainly a great deal better than any Heavy Vinyl reissue or digital source. (more…)