The Joshua Tree is the fifth studio album by rock band U2. It was produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, and was released on 9 March 1987 on Island Records. In contrast to the ambient experimentation of their 1984 release The Unforgettable Fire, U2 aimed for a harder-hitting sound on The Joshua Tree within the limitation of strict song structures. The album is influenced by American and Irish roots music and depicts the band's love-hate relationship with the United States, with socially - and politically - conscious lyrics embellished with spiritual imagery.
Inspired by American tour experiences, literature, and politics, U2 chose America as a theme for the record. Recording began in January 1986 in Ireland, and to foster a relaxed, creative atmosphere, the group recorded in two houses, in addition to two professional studios. Several events during the sessions helped shape the conscious tone of the album, including the band's participation in A Conspiracy of Hope tour, the death of roadie Greg Carroll, and lead vocalist Bono's travels to Central America. Recording was completed in November and additional production continued into January 1987. Throughout the sessions, U2 sought a "cinematic" quality for the record that would evoke a sense of location, in particular, the open spaces of America. They represented this in the sleeve photography depicting them in American desert landscapes.
The album received critical acclaim, topped the charts in over 20 countries, and sold in record-breaking numbers. According to Rolling Stone, the album increased the band's stature "from heroes to superstars". It produced the hit singles "With or Without You", "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", and "Where the Streets Have No Name". The album won Grammy Awards for Album of the Year and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1988. The group supported the record with the successful Joshua Tree Tour. Frequently cited as one of the greatest albums in rock history, The Joshua Tree is one of the world's all-time best-selling albums, with over 25 million copies sold. In 2007, U2 released a 20th anniversary remastered edition of the record.
Before The Joshua Tree, U2 had released four studio albums and were an internationally successful band, particularly as a live act having toured every year in the 1980s. The group's stature and the public's anticipation for a new album grew following their 1984 record, The Unforgettable Fire, their subsequent tour, and their participation in Live Aid in 1985. U2 began writing new material in mid-1985 following the Unforgettable Fire Tour.
Band manager Paul McGuinness recounted that The Joshua Tree originated from the band's "great romance" with the United States, as the group had toured the country for up to five months per year in the first half of the 1980s. In the lead up to the album sessions, lead vocalist Bono had been reading the works of American writers such as Norman Mailer, Flannery O'Connor, and Raymond Carver so as to understand, in the words of Hot Press editor Niall Stokes, "those on the fringes of the promised land, cut off from the American dream".Stokes (1996), p. 76 Following a 1985 humanitarian visit to Ethiopia with his wife Ali, Bono said, "Spending time in Africa and seeing people in the pits of poverty, I still saw a very strong spirit in the people, a richness of spirit I didn't see when I came home... I saw the spoiled child of the Western world. I started thinking, 'They may have a physical desert, but we've got other kinds of deserts.' And that's what attracted me to the desert as a symbol of some sort."
In 1985, Bono participated in Steven Van Zandt's anti-apartheid Sun City project and spent time with Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. When Richards and Jagger played blues, Bono was embarrassed by his lack of familiarity with the genre, as most of U2's musical knowledge began with punk rock in their youth in the mid-1970s. Bono realised that U2 "had no tradition", and he felt as if they "were from outer space". This inspired him to write the blues-influenced song "Silver and Gold", which he recorded with Richards and Ronnie Wood.McCormick (2006), p. 169 Until that time, U2 had been antipathetic towards roots music, but after spending time with fellow Irish bands The Waterboys and Hothouse Flowers, they felt a sense of indigenous Irish music blending with American folk music. Nascent friendships with Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Richards encouraged U2 to look back to rock's roots and focused Bono on his skills as a songwriter and lyricist.McCormick (2006), p. 179; Graham (2004), p. 27 He explained, "I used to think that writing words was old-fashioned, so I sketched. I wrote words on the microphone. For The Joshua Tree, I felt the time had come to write words that meant something, out of my experience." Dylan told Bono of his own debt to Irish music,Graham (2004), pp. 28–29; McGee (2008), p. 91 while Bono further demonstrated his interest in music traditions in his duet with Irish Celtic and folk group Clannad on the track "In a Lifetime".
The band wanted to build on the textures of The Unforgettable Fire, but in contrast to that record's often out-of-focus experimentation, they sought a harder-hitting sound within the limitations of more strict song structures. The group referred to this approach as working within the "primary colours" of rock music—guitar, bass, and drums. Guitarist The Edge was more interested in the European atmospherics of The Unforgettable Fire and was initially reluctant to follow the lead of Bono, who, inspired by Dylan's instruction to "go back", sought a more American, bluesy sound.McGee (2008), p. 93 Despite not having a consensus on musical direction, the group members agreed that they felt disconnected from the dominant synthpop and New Wave music of the time, and they wanted to continue making music that contrasted with these genres. In late 1985, U2 moved to drummer Larry Mullen, Jr.'s newly-purchased home to work on material written during The Unforgettable Fire Tour. This included demos that would evolve into "With or Without You", "Red Hill Mining Town", and "Trip Through Your Wires", and a song called "Womanfish". The Edge recalled it as a difficult period with a sense of "going nowhere", although Bono was set on America as a theme for the album.McCormick (2006), p. 172
Recording and production
Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois.jpgthumbrightBrian Eno and Daniel Lanois produced the album, their second time working with U2.alt=Headshots of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois.
Based on their success with producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois on The Unforgettable Fire, U2 wanted the duo to produce their new album. Mullen was excited about working with them again, as he felt the pair, Lanois in particular, were the band's first producers who "really an interest in the rhythm section". Mark "Flood" Ellis was engineer for the sessions, marking the first time he worked with U2. The band was impressed by his work with Nick Cave, and Bono's friend Gavin Friday recommended Flood based on their work experiences together when Friday was a member of the Virgin Prunes. The band asked Flood for a sound that was "very open... ambient... with a real sense of space of the environment you were in", which he thought was a very unusual request at that time.
Intending to release an album in late 1986, U2 set up a studio in January of that year in Danesmoate House, a Georgian house in Rathfarnham in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains. Their plan was to create atmosphere and inspiration there, much like their use of Slane Castle for The Unforgettable Fire sessions in 1984. While the band mainly recorded downstairs, their friends Guggi and Gavin Friday used the upstairs rooms to paint, and Bono regularly joined them on trips into Dublin to work with artist Charlie Whisker. A makeshift control room with tape machines, a mixing desk, and other outboard equipment was set up in the dining room, with the adjacent drawing room used for recording and performing. The large doors separating the rooms were replaced with a glass screen, and to maintain a relaxed "non-studio" atmosphere for the sessions, the control room was dubbed the "lyric room" and the recording space was called the "band room". The band found the house to have a very creative atmosphere. The large drawing room, with tall ceiling and wooden floors, created an "ear-splitting" drum sound that while difficult to work with, produced takes that ended up on the finished album.McCormick (2006), p. 178 Lanois said that it "was loud, but it was really good loud, real dense, very musical. In my opinion it was the most rock and roll room of the lot." He thought the room sounded better than Slane Castle, and he was particularly impressed with the room's "low mid-range ... where the music lives", a property that he believes was a major factor in the success of The Joshua Tree.
U2 began with their usual method of sorting through tapes from soundcheck jams, working through Bono's lyric book, and recording jam sessions. One aspect of their recording methods, however, changed after The Unforgettable Fire sessions; rather than recording each instrument separately and layering them into the mix, for The Joshua Tree, U2 recorded all but two of the songs "live". U2's songwriting methods were also developing; not all material was being worked out in band sessions, rather Bono and The Edge often brought basic song ideas to the rest of the group.Graham (1996), p. 28 Eno and Lanois intentionally worked with the band at alternate times—one producer for a week or two, followed by the other. Eno and Lanois encouraged an interest in older songs, especially American roots music. More contemporary references included the textural guitar work of The Smiths and My Bloody Valentine. The band's musical vocabulary improved after their previous album, facilitating communication and collaboration with the production team. One of the first songs worked on was "Heartland", which originated during The Unforgettable Fire sessions and was later released on the band's 1988 album Rattle and Hum. Supplementary recording sessions at STS Studios in Dublin with producer Paul Barrett saw the development of "With or Without You" and the genesis of "Bullet the Blue Sky". The arrangements for "With or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" were written early in the Danesmoate sessions, giving the band the confidence to experiment.
U2 interrupted the sessions to join Amnesty International's A Conspiracy of Hope Tour in June 1986. Rather than distract the band, the tour added extra intensity and power to their new music and provided extra focus on what they wanted to say.McCormick (2006), p. 174 For bassist Adam Clayton, the tour validated the "rawness of content" and their attempts to capture the "bleakness and greed of America under Ronald Reagan". In July, Bono travelled with his wife Ali to Nicaragua and El Salvador and saw firsthand the distress of peasants bullied by political conflicts and US military intervention, experiences which formed the basis of the lyrics for "Bullet the Blue Sky" and "Mothers of the Disappeared". The group experienced a tragedy in July when Bono's personal assistant and roadie Greg Carroll was killed in a motorcycle accident in Dublin. The 26-year-old's death overwhelmed the U2 organisation, and the band travelled to his native New Zealand to attend his traditional Māori funeral.
Windmill Lane Studio.jpgthumbrightIn August 1986, U2 moved recording of the album to Windmill Lane Studios (pictured in 2008).alt=A three-storey stone-faced building. The first level is decorated with colorful graffiti.
On 1 August 1986, U2 regrouped at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin to resume work on the album. Writing and recording continued for the rest of the year, with the band also using Danesmoate House and The Edge's newly-bought home, Melbeach. "Mothers of the Disappeared" and "Bullet the Blue Sky" were among the songs that the group made progress on at Melbeach. Lanois said "the bulk of the record was done at The Edge's house. Even though the Danesmoate sessions were the backbone of the tonality of the record—we got a lot of the drums done in there." In August, Robbie Robertson, the former guitarist and chief songwriter for The Band, visited Dublin to complete an album that Lanois was producing; Robertson recorded two tracks with U2 that appear on his self-titled solo album.
A creative spurt in October resulted in new song ideas. However, they were shelved at Eno's suggestion lest the band miss the deadline for the album's completion. Recording for The Joshua Tree wrapped up in November 1986. Rough mixes had been created throughout the sessions after each song was recorded to, in Lanois' words, take "snapshots along the way ... because sometimes you go too far". The Edge explained that the arrangement and production of each song was approached individually and that while there was a strong uniform direction, they were prepared to "sacrifice some continuity to get the rewards of following each song to a conclusion". The final weeks were a frantic rush to finish, with the band and production crew all suffering exhaustion. Lanois and Pat McCarthy mixed songs at Melbeach on an AMEK 2500 mixing desk, where, without console automation, they needed three people to operate the console. Eno and Flood had minimal involvement with the final mixes. In late December, U2 hired Steve Lillywhite, producer of their first three albums, to remix the potential singles. His job was to make the songs more appealing to commercial radio, and his eleventh-hour presence and changes caused discontent among the production crew, including Eno and Lanois. Lillywhite's remixing was done on an SLL desk and extended into the new year.
Following the completion of the album proper, U2 returned to the studio in January 1987 to complete the new material they shelved in October. These tracks, which included "Walk to the Water", "Luminous Times (Hold Onto Love)", and "Spanish Eyes", were completed as B-sides for the planned singles.McGee (2008), p. 99 The song "Sweetest Thing" was left off the album as a B-side, as the band felt it was incomplete and did not fit with the other songs.Stokes (1996), pp. 130–131 The band later expressed regret that it had not been completed for the album. The track was re-recorded as a single for the group's 1998 compilation The Best of 1980–1990.Graham (2004), p. 77 The band considered releasing The Joshua Tree as a double-album that would have included the B-sides. Bono was the most vocal proponent of the idea, whereas The Edge argued for the 11-track version that was ultimately released.Stokes (1989) U2 agreed that one track, "Birdland", was too strong for a B-side and they held it for a future album release. In 2007, a re-recorded version of the song, retitled "Wave of Sorrow (Birdland)", was included with the 20th anniversary edition of the album.
On completion of The Joshua Tree, Bono said that he was "as pleased with the record as I can ever be pleased with a record". Although he was "very rarely pleased" with their finished albums to that point, he thought the new record was their most complete since their first. Clayton bought Danesmoate House in 1987, and it remains his Dublin home.
U2 is credited with composing all of The Joshua Trees music. The group's sound on the album draws from American and Irish roots music more than previous albums, following the counsel and influence of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Keith Richards. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" has strong gospel influences, with Bono singing of spiritual doubt in an upper register and Eno, Lanois, and The Edge providing choir-like backing vocals. The slow piano-based ballad "Running to Stand Still" exhibits traits of folk music and acoustic blues in the track's slide acoustic guitar and harmonica. "Trip Through Your Wires", another song on which Bono plays harmonica, was described by Niall Stokes as a "bluesy romp".Stokes (1996), p. 74
The Edge's guitar playing on The Joshua Tree demonstrates what came to be his trademark sound. His minimalist style sharply contrasted with the emphasis on virtuosity and speed during the heavy metal era of the 1980s. The Edge views musical notes as "expensive", preferring to play as few of them as possible and instead focus on simpler parts that serve the moods of the songs.Gulla (2009), p. 64 Much of this was achieved with a delay effect, contributing to a chiming, echo-laden sound.Flanagan (1996), pp. 44–45 For example, the riff in the introduction of the opening track "Where the Streets Have No Name" is a repeated six-note arpeggio, with delay used to repeat notes. The riffs to "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and "With or Without You" also prominently use delay, with Bono likening the guitar hook from the former track to "chrome bells".McCormick (2006), pp. 181–182
The Edge continued to employ ambient guitar playing techniques that began with The Unforgettable Fire; on "With or Without You", he used a prototype of the Infinite Guitar to add layers of sustained notes, an approach first taken on his 1986 solo album, the Captive soundtrack.McCormick (2006), pp. 179, 181 On other songs, his guitar playing is more aggressive; "Exit" was described by Colin Hogg as a "decidedly scary... guitar-driven barrage", while Andrew Mueller said the guitar sounds from "Bullet the Blue Sky" resemble fighter planes. The Edge developed the harsh, feedback-charged guitar part for the latter song at Bono's instruction to "put El Salvador through an amplifier", after Bono returned angry from a visit to war-torn El Salvador. Bono also contributed to songwriting on guitar; the Spanish guitar melody in "Mothers of the Disappeared" originated from a song that he composed in Ethiopia to teach children about basic hygiene.McCormick (2006), p. 184
Much like on past records, Bono exhibits an expressive, open-throated vocal delivery,Fast (2000), pp. 33–53 which many critics labelled as "passionate".Rooksby (2001), pp. 122–123 Spin found that the group's exploration of roots music resulted in Bono's style expanding, saying he "commands the full whisper-to-shout range of blues mannerisms". Bono attributes this maturation to "loosening up" and "discover other voices", and to employing more restraint in his singing. His vocals became, in the words of Thom Duffy, more "dynamic" than they had been on previous records. On "Where the Streets Have No Name", his voice varies greatly in its timbre (as writer Mark Butler describes, "he sighs; he moans; he grunts; he exhales audibly; he allows his voice to crack") and timing by his usage of rubato to slightly offset the sung notes from the beat. For author Susan Fast, "With or Without You" marks the first track on which he "extended his vocal range downward in an appreciable way".Fast (2000), pp. 48
Death Valley,19820816,Desert,incoming near Shoshones.jpgthumbrightThe mental image of an American desert was inspirational to the group during the album's inception.alt=A desert with a cloudy blue sky. Sporadic weedy plants are growing in the dirt, and a mountain range is visible in the background.
Bono is credited as the album's sole lyricist. Thematically, the album juxtaposes antipathy towards the United States against the band's deep fascination with the country, its open spaces, freedoms, and ideals. Anger is directed particularly at the perceived greed of the Ronald Reagan administration and its foreign policy in Central America.McCormick (2006), p. 186 Bono said, "I started to see two Americas, the mythic America and the real America",McCormick (2006), pp. 177–178 hence the album's working title, The Two Americas. The band wanted music with a sense of location and a "cinematic" quality, and the album consequently drew on imagery created by American writers whose works the band read.Graham (2004) pp. 27–30 Having toured the United States extensively in the past, the group were inspired by the country's geography. As such, the desert, rain, dust, and water appear as lyrical motifs throughout the record. In many cases, the desert is used as a metaphor for "spiritual drought". One track that chiefly represents these themes is "In God's Country", which critics interpreted as addressing America's role as the "promised land". Clayton explained the impact of the desert imagery: "The desert was immensely inspirational to us as a mental image for this record. Most people would take the desert on face value and think it's some kind of barren place, which of course is true. But in the right frame of mind, it's also a very positive image, because you can actually do something with blank canvas, which is effectively what the desert is."Stokes (1996), p. 72
Political and social concerns were the basis for several tracks. Bono wrote the lyrics to "Bullet the Blue Sky" after visiting El Salvador and witnessing how US military intervention in the country's civil war hurt the local people. This trip also inspired "Mothers of the Disappeared", after Bono met members of COMADRES—the Mothers of the Disappeared—a group of women whose children were killed or "disappeared" at the hands of the government during the Salvadoran Civil War. The 1984 UK mining strike inspired the lyrics to "Red Hill Mining Town", which Bono wrote from the perspective of a couple affected by the strike. The story of a heroin-addicted couple was the basis for "Running to Stand Still", which Bono set in Dublin's Ballymun Flats. For "Where the Streets Have No Name", he wrote the lyrics in response to the idea that, in Belfast, a person's religion and income can be deduced based on the street they live on. "Exit" portrays a psychotic killer, although Clayton suggests the line "He saw the hands that build could also pull down" is also a jab at the US government's conflicting roles in international relations.
Bono described 1986 as "an incredibly bad year" for him, which was reflected in the lyrics. His marriage was under strain, in part due to the album's long gestation period, the band were criticised by the Irish media for their involvement in the Self Aid event, and his personal assistant Greg Carroll was killed in a motorcycle accident in Dublin. Bono said, "That's why the desert attracted me as an image. That year was really a desert for us." "With or Without You" was written while he was struggling to reconcile his wanderlust as a musician with his domestic responsibilities. "One Tree Hill", named after a volcanic peak in Carroll's native New Zealand, describes how Bono felt at Carroll's funeral.McGee (2008), p. 97 The album is dedicated to his memory.
The group's religious faith was a source of inspiration for many lyrics. On "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", Bono affirms this faith but sings of spiritual doubt ("I believe in Kingdom Come"... "But I still haven't found what I'm looking for").Stokes (1996), p. 65 Some critics surmised that the place Bono is referring to on "Where the Streets Have No Name" is Heaven.Stockman (2005), pp. 68–69 These two songs were singled out by some critics as demonstrating that the band was on a "spiritual quest". Several critics interpreted "With or Without You" in both romantic and spiritual manners.Stokes (1996), p. 66 Biblical references are made on other songs like "Bullet the Blue Sky" ("Jacob wrestled the angel", images of fire and brimstone) and "In God's Country" ("I stand with the sons of Cain"). Thom Duffy interpreted the album as an exploration of the "uncertainty and pain of a spiritual pilgrimage through a bleak and harsh world".
Packaging and title
Joshuatree.JPGthumbrightuprightThe Joshua tree that was featured throughout the album artwork is located in the Mojave Desert.alt=A tree with spiked limbs sprawling in several directions stands in a desert. A mountain range stands in the background
The album sleeve was designed by Steve Averill, and the band developed the idea for it from the record's "imagery, and cinematic location" in the desert. The initial concept for the sleeve was to represent where the desert met civilisation, and accordingly, one of the provisional titles for the album was The Desert Songs. They asked their photographer Anton Corbijn to search for locations in the United States that would capture this.McCormick (2006), p. 185 From 14–16 December 1986, the band travelled with Corbijn and Averill on a bus around the Mojave Desert in California for a three-day photo shoot. The group stayed in small hotels and shot in the desert landscape, beginning at the ghost town of Bodie before moving to locations such as Zabriskie Point and other sites in Death Valley.McGee (2008), p. 98 For the shoot, Corbijn rented a panoramic camera to capture more of the desert landscapes, but having no prior experience with the camera, he was unfamiliar with how to focus it. This led to him focusing on the background and leaving the band slightly out of focus. Corbijn said, "Fortunately there was a lot of light." He later recounted that the main idea of the shoot was to juxtapose "man and environment, the Irish in America".
On the evening after the first day's shooting, Corbijn told the band about Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia), hardy and twisted plants in the deserts of the American Southwest, and he suggested their use on the sleeve. Bono consulted the Bible and was pleased to discover the religious significance of the plant's etymology; early settlers, according to Mormon legend, named the plant after the Old Testament prophet Joshua, as the tree's stretching branches reminded them of Joshua raising his hands in prayer. The following day, Bono declared that the album should be titled The Joshua Tree. That day, while driving on Route 190, they spotted a lone-standing tree in the desert, unusual since the plant is usually found in groups. Corbijn had been hoping to find a single tree, as he thought it would result in better photographs than if he shot the band amongst a group of trees. They stopped the bus and photographed with the lone plant for about 20 minutes, something The Edge called "fairly spontaneous". Despite shooting in the desert, the group dealt with cold weather. Bono explained, "it was freezing and we had to take our coats off so it would at least look like a desert. That's one of the reasons we look so grim."Kaiser (2005), p. 28 The final day of shooting was spent in snow-covered ghost towns, much to the displeasure of Bono.
Corbijn's original idea for the sleeve was to have a shot of the Joshua tree on the front, with the band in a continuation of the photograph on the back. Ultimately, separate photographs were used for each side of the sleeve; an image of the group at Zabriskie Point was placed on the front, while an image of them with the tree appears on the reverse side. Rolling Stone believes the title and the images of the tree befit an album concerned with "resilience in the face of utter social and political desolation, a record steeped in religious imagery". In 1991, Rolling Stone ranked the album at number 97 on its list of the "100 Greatest Album Covers of All Time". The tree photographed for the sleeve fell around 2000, yet the site remains a popular attraction for U2 fans to pay tribute to the group. One person inserted a plaque into the ground reading, "Have you found what you're looking for?", in reference to the album's track "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For".
Just prior to the release of The Joshua Tree, Bono was stricken with a sudden panic that the completed album was not good enough. He contemplated calling the production plants to order a halt of the record's pressing, but he ultimately held off. Island Records spent over $100,000 on store displays advertising the album; president Lou Maglia called it "the most complete merchandising effort ever assembled". The Joshua Tree was released on 9 March 1987, the first new release to be made available on the compact disc, vinyl record, and cassette tape formats on the same date. Record stores in Britain and Ireland opened at midnight to accommodate the large amount of fans who had queued outside to buy the album.
2005-11-21 U2 @ MSG by ZG.JPGthumbrightThe success of The Joshua Tree made U2 (pictured in 2005) into international superstars.alt=U2 performing on a concert stage. The Edge and Adam Clayton, playing guitars, flank Bono in the foreground, while Larry Mullen, Jr. is behind a drum kit in the background.
The Joshua Tree became, at the time, the fastest-selling album in British history, selling over 300,000 copies in two days. On 21 March 1987, it debuted on the UK Albums Chart at number one, spending two weeks at the top position, and it remained on the chart for 163 weeks. On the US Billboard Top Pop Albums chart, the album debuted on 4 April 1987 at number seven, the highest debut for a studio album in the US in almost seven years. Within three weeks, it topped the chart, where it remained for nine consecutive weeks. The album spent a total of 101 weeks on the Billboard Top Pop Albums, 35 of them in the top 10. On 13 May 1987, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album triple Platinum. Note: Album must be searched manually. All of the group's previous albums re-entered the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart in 1987. In Canada, the album debuted at number 51 on the RPM Top 100 Albums chart on 21 March 1987, and climbed to number one just two weeks later. Within 14 days of release, it sold 300,000 units in Canada and was certified triple Platinum. The Joshua Tree topped the albums charts in 19 other countries,McGee (2008), p. 100 including Austria, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Sweden. Rolling Stone declared that the album increased the band's stature "from heroes to superstars".Rolling Stone (1994), p. xx It was the first album by any artist to sell one million copies on CD in the US. U2 became the fourth rock band to be featured on the cover of Time (following The Beatles, The Band, and The Who), who declared that U2 was "Rock's Hottest Ticket".
"With or Without You" was released as the lead single on 21 March 1987, with the B-sides "Luminous Times (Hold on to Love)" and "Walk to the Water". The single quickly topped the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the band's first number-one hit in America. The song topped the singles chart in Canada, while reaching number four in the UK and number two in the Netherlands. The group originally planned to use "Red Hill Mining Town" as the second single.McGee (2008), p. 103 However, the group were unhappy with the music video filmed by Neil Jordan,Stokes (1996), p. 71 and Bono and Mullen had difficulty performing the song during rehearsals. Ultimately, the group canceled the single.de la Parra (1994), p. 119 Instead, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" was chosen as the second single, and it was released in May 1987 with the tracks "Spanish Eyes" and "Deep in the Heart" as B-sides. Like its predecessor, it topped the Hot 100, giving U2 consecutive number-one singles in the US. The single peaked at number six in the UK, Canada, and the Netherlands. By May, sales of the album surpassed 7 million copies worldwide.Stokes (1996), p. 204
"Where the Streets Have No Name" was released in August 1987 as the third single, with
"Sweetest Thing", "Silver and Gold", and "Race Against Time" as B-sides. The single reached number one in the Netherlands, number four on the UK Singles Chart, and number 13 in the US. The album's first three singles all topped the Irish Singles Charts, while charting within the top 20 of the singles charts in the UK, the US, Canada, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. "In God's Country" was released as a fourth single exclusively in North America in November 1987,McGee (2008), p. 114 peaking at number 44 on the Hot 100. "One Tree Hill" was released as a fourth single in Australia and New Zealand in March 1988,McGee (2008), p. 116 and having been written for the New Zealand-native Carroll, it reached number one in his home country. By the end of 1988, The Joshua Tree had sold more than 14 million copies worldwide.
In 1996, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab remastered the album and released it as a special gold CD. This edition rectified the incorrect track splitting between "One Tree Hill" and "Exit" that affected some CD releases; the quiet coda that concludes "One Tree Hill" had previously been included in the same track as "Exit".
The Joshua Tree received almost universally positive album reviews, the best of U2's career to that point. Rolling Stone wrote, "For a band that's always specialized in inspirational, larger-than-life gestures—a band utterly determined to be Important—The Joshua Tree could be the big one, and that's precisely what it sounds like." The review described the album's sound as "wed the diverse textures of The Unforgettable Fire to fully formed songs, many of them as aggressive as the hits on War". Steve Morse of The Boston Globe echoed these sentiments in his review, stating, "It's another spiritual progress report, enwrapped in music that strikes a healthy balance between the lushness of their last album, 1984's The Unforgettable Fire, and the more volcanic rock of their early years." Morse called it "their most challenging work to date" and the "most rewarding rock record of the new year". Q gave the album a rating of five stars, noting that "their reinvention of stadium rock sounds as impassioned as ever" and that the album strikes "a finely balanced mix of intimacy and power". NME praised the album as "a better and braver record than anything else that's likely to appear in 1987... It's the sound of people still trying, still looking..." In a five-star review, Thom Duffy of the Orlando Sentinel said the songs have "exultant power" that, "like the Joshua Tree's branches, stretch upward in stark contrast to their barren musical surroundings on rock radio". He praised the musicianship of the group members, calling Bono's vocals "wrenching", the rhythm section of Mullen and Clayton "razor-sharp", and The Edge's guitar playing "never... better".
The New Zealand Herald gave the album a five-star rating, calling it "the most compelling collection of music yet from a band that has cut its career with passionate, exciting slashes". The newspaper judged that the record's "power lies in its restraint" and that there is an "urgency underlying virtually all of the 11 songs". In Times cover story on U2, Jay Cocks called the album the band's best, commenting that it had both commercial and thematic depth. Spin called The Joshua Tree their "first wholly successful album because it finally breaks free from the seductive but limiting chant-and-drone approach of earlier material". The review stated, "There isn't a bad song on the record" and that "every one has a hook". The magazine praised U2 for eschewing ambient experimentation in favour of uncomplicated but layered arrangements. Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times said the album "confirms on record what this band has been slowly asserting for three years now on stage: U2 is what the Rolling Stones ceased being years ago—the greatest rock and roll band in the world". Hilburn noted that the band expanded on the "sketches" from The Unforgettable Fire with "sometimes breathtaking signs of growth", playing more "tailored and assured" music. Hot Press editor and longtime U2 supporter Bill Graham said that "The Joshua Tree rescues rock from its decay, bravely and unashamedly basing itself in the mainstream before very cleverly lifting off into several higher dimensions," and that U2 "must be taken very seriously indeed after this revaluation of rock".
John Rockwell of The New York Times was complimentary of the band for expanding its musical range, singling out their exploration of other genres and the combination of The Edge's "obsessive, repetitive guitar textures" with Eno's "eerie synthesizer coloration". Rockwell was more critical, though, of Bono's vocals, which he said were "marred throughout by sobbing affectation" and sounded too much like other singers, resulting in a "curious loss of individuality". The Houston Chronicle gave the album a three-and-a-half star review, calling it "music that both soothes and inspires, music that is anthemic, music with style". The publication called it a "natural sequel" to The Unforgettable Fire that "build on the band's new-found sense of dynamics". The reviewer, however, believed the group took itself too seriously, resulting in a record that is "not a whole lot of fun, bordering on the pretentious", and he noted that he lost interest by its second side. In a retrospective review, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic rated the album a perfect five stars, saying, "their focus has never been clearer, nor has their music been catchier". Erlewine found it ironic the band achieved its greatest success with an album filled with such dark lyrical content. His review concluded, "Never before have U2's big messages sounded so direct and personal."
Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone compared the album to Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A., stating that both records "lifted a populist artist to mega-stardom", and that the musicians' uplifting live shows and the "sheer aural pleasure" of the two records obscured their foreboding nature. DeCurtis summarized The Joshua Trees examination of America both lyrically and musically as such:Rolling Stone (1994), pp. 68–69
The album placed fourth on the "Best Albums" list from The Village Voices 1987 Pazz & Jop critics' poll. At the 30th Grammy Awards in 1988, U2 won their first two Grammy Awards—Album of the Year and Best Rock Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocal.
The Joshua Tree Tour
Following the release of The Joshua Tree, U2 staged the worldwide Joshua Tree Tour. It began in April 1987, and comprising 109 shows over three legs, it continued through December. The first and third legs visited the US, while the second leg toured Europe. Before The Joshua Tree, the band had been proportionally more successful as a live act than as a record-selling act. The album brought them to a new level of mega-stardom, and the tour sold out arenas and stadiums around the world—the first time they had consistently visited venues of that size—while playing to over 3 million people. Songs from the album became staples of the tour setlists, as the group regularly performed eight of the record's eleven tracks, and the only song not to be played was "Red Hill Mining Town".
Like their previous tours, The Joshua Tree Tour was a minimalistic, austere production that was highlighted by U2's earnestness, and they used this outlet for addressing political and social concerns. One such issue was Arizona Governor Evan Mecham's canceling the state's observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Throughout the tour, the band continued to explore American roots music: they collaborated with folk artist Bob Dylan, blues musician B. B. King, and Harlem's New Voices of Freedom gospel choir; the band also visited Graceland and Sun Studios in Memphis, where they recorded new material. These new songs and the group's experiences on tour were documented for the 1988 Rattle and Hum album and Phil Joanou-directed motion picture.
The tour grossed $40 million, but despite its commercial success and positive reviews, U2 were dissatisfied creatively, and Bono believed they were musically unprepared for their success.Flanagan (1996), pp. 25–26 Mullen said, "We were the biggest, but we weren't the best", and for Bono the tour was "one of the worst times of musical life". On the road, the group dealt with death threats, along with injuries that Bono sustained from performing. The band hinted that the stresses of touring led them to enjoy the "rock and roll lifestyle" they previously avoided.
The Joshua Tree is the band's best-selling album, and with 25 million copies sold worldwide, it is among the best-selling albums worldwide. It ranks as one of the best-selling albums in the US. In 1995, the RIAA certified it 10× Platinum for shipping 10 million units, and the album subsequently received the Diamond Award for reaching this level. Similarly, the Canadian Recording Industry Association certified the album Diamond in Canada. In the UK, it is certified 6× Platinum, with an additional Silver certification for the 20th anniversary edition. In the Pacific, it is certified 5× Platinum and 14× Platinum in Australia and New Zealand, respectively.
The Joshua Tree is often cited as one of the greatest albums in rock history. In 1989, two years after its release, it was rated number three on Rolling Stones list of "The 100 Greatest Albums of the 80's". The Guardian collated worldwide data in 1997 from a range of renowned critics, artists, and radio DJs, who placed the record at number 57 in the list of the "100 Best Albums Ever". In 2001, music television channel VH1 placed it at number 15 on their "100 Greatest Albums of Rock & Roll" countdown from their series The Greatest. That same year, the network's viewers voted The Joshua Tree the greatest album ever made. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked the album at number 26 on their list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time"; it was U2's best position on the list. "The Definitive 200" list, compiled by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers and sponsored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, ranked the album as the fifth-greatest in history.
In 2006, the album appeared on a number of rankings, including Hot Presss "100 Greatest Albums Ever" at number 11, and Times "The All-Time 100 Albums". That same year, Q named it the best album of the 1980s, while the publication's readers ranked it the 16th-greatest album of all-time. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly ranked it at number 63 on its list of the greatest albums of the previous 25 years. In 2010, the album appeared at number 62 on Spins list of the "125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years", which ranked the most influential albums in the 25 years since the magazine launched. The magazine wrote, "The band's fifth album spit out hits like crazy, and they were unusually searching hits, each with a pointed political edge."
Writer Derek White conducted a mathematical study of The Edge's rhythmic delay guitar effect in an attempt to explain why his playing style on the record sounds so "appealing". For a given song, White found that by dividing the number of repeated delay notes per minute by the song's tempo in beats per minute, he arrived at e, an important mathematical constant that is used to explain many natural phenomena.
The band's penchant for addressing political and social issues, as well as their staid depiction in Corbijn's black-and-white sleeve photographs, contributed to the group's earnest and serious image as "stone-faced pilgrim". This image became the target of derision after the band's critically-maligned Rattle and Hum project in 1988. Various critics called them "po-faced", "pompous bores", and "humourless". The group's continued exploration of American music for the project was labelled "pretentious" and "misguided and bombastic". After Bono told fans on the 1989 Lovetown Tour that U2 would "dream it all up again", the band reinvented themselves in the 1990s. The group incorporated alternative rock, industrial, and electronic dance music into their sound, and adopted a more self-deprecating, flippant image by which they embraced the "rock star" identity they struggled with in the 1980s. The band referred to their 1991 album Achtung Baby as "chopping down the Joshua Tree". Author Bill Flanagan summarised the impact of The Joshua Tree on the group's career in his liner notes to the album's 20th anniversary release: "The Joshua Tree made U2 into international rock stars and established both a standard they would always have to live up to and an image they would forever try to live down."
20th anniversary edition
U2-joshua-tree-20th-anniversary-box.jpgthumbrightThe 20th anniversary edition box set release. Additional content includes a bonus CD and DVD, hardcover book, and photograph prints.
On 20 November 2007, a 20th anniversary edition of The Joshua Tree was released. The album was remastered from the original analogue recordings under the direction of The Edge. The release was made available in four formats: a single CD; a two-disc deluxe edition with a bonus audio CD; a three-disc box set with bonus audio CD and DVD, photograph prints, and hardcover book; and a double vinyl edition. All editions included a booklet with liner notes by author Bill Flanagan and "previously unseen" photographs by Anton Corbijn.
Manager Paul McGuinness explained, "There has been continuous demand from U2 fans to have The Joshua Tree properly re-mastered. As always, the band had to make sure it was right, and now it is." Two of the remastered formats include a bonus CD containing B-sides and rarities/demos from The Joshua Tree. Some formats include expanded liner notes from the band members, the production team, and Anton Corbijn. In an otherwise favourable review of the remastered album, Andrew Mueller of Uncut said that "any casual listener who can perceive a meaningful difference between this and the original has i) ears like a bat and/or ii) needs to get out more".
Bonus audio CD
The bonus audio CD features 14 additional tracks, including the B-sides "Luminous Times (Hold on to Love)", "Walk to the Water", "Spanish Eyes", "Deep in the Heart", "Silver and Gold", "Sweetest Thing", and "Race Against Time". Two versions of "Silver and Gold" are included—the B-side version, and the original recording from the Sun City album, with Keith Richards and Ron Wood. The edited single version of "Where the Streets Have No Name" appears on the bonus CD. "Beautiful Ghost/Introduction to Songs of Experience" features lyrics from the introduction of William Blake's Songs of Experience, and was previously released in The Complete U2 digital box set in 2004. "Wave of Sorrow (Birdland)", "Desert of Our Love", "Rise Up", and "Drunk Chicken/America" are all previously unreleased recordings from The Joshua Tree sessions. "Wave of Sorrow (Birdland)" is a completed version of the demo "Birdland", and "Drunk Chicken/America" features an excerpt of Allen Ginsberg's recitation of his poem, America.
The bonus DVD features live concert footage, a documentary, and two music videos. The disc includes Live from Paris, an 85-minute concert from 4 July 1987 that was originally broadcast on British television in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Island Records. It was later released as a live album through the iTunes Store in July 2008; three cover songs are excluded from both releases of the concert. The documentary, titled Outside It's America, was a 1987 MTV production about The Joshua Tree Tour. The two music videos are an alternate version "With or Without You" and the previously unreleased video for "Red Hill Mining Town". Footage of U2's alter ego country band, The Dalton Brothers, is included on the disc as an Easter egg.
;U2The band members' instruments are not credited on the album's liner notes, aside from The Edge's backing vocals and Bono's harmonica. Their primary instruments are listed based on their accounts of the album's recording and their de facto primary roles in the group.
*Bono – lead vocals, harmonica
*The Edge – guitar, backing vocals
*Adam Clayton – bass guitar
*Larry Mullen, Jr. – drums
*Brian Eno – keyboards, DX7 programming, backing vocals
*Daniel Lanois – tambourine, Omnichord, additional guitar, backing vocals
*The Armin Family – strings (track 9)
*The Arklow Silver Band – brass (track 6)
*Production – Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno
*Recording – Flood
*Additional engineering – Dave Meegan with Pat McCarthy
*Mixing – Steve Lillywhite (tracks 1, 3, 4, and 6)
*Mix engineering – Mark Wallis
*Mix engineering assistance – Mary Kettle
*Studio crew – Joe O'Herlihy, Des Broadberry, Tom Mullally, Tim Buckley, Marc Coleman, Mary Gough, Marion Smyth
Charts and certifications
*The 20th anniversary edition was certified Silver.
* This text has been derived from The Joshua Tree on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0
U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin. Formed in 1976, the group consists of Bono (vocals and guitar), The Edge (guitar, keyboards and vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen, Jr. (drums and percussion). U2's early sound was indebted to post-punk but eventually grew to incorporate influences from many genres of popular music. Throughout the group's musical pursuits, they have maintained a recognisable sound built on melodic instrumentals, highlighted by The Edge's textural guitar playing and Bono's expressive vocals. Their lyrics, often embellished with spiritual imagery, focus on personal themes and sociopolitical concerns.
U2 formed at Mount Temple Comprehensive School when the members were teenagers with limited musical proficiency. Within four years, they signed to Island Records and released their debut album Boy. By the mid-1980s, they became a top international act. They were more successful as live performers than they were at selling records, until their 1987 breakthrough album The Joshua Tree, which, according to Rolling Stone, elevated the band's stature "from heroes to superstars".Rolling Stone (1994), p. xx Reacting to a sense of musical stagnation and a late-1980s critical backlash against their earnest image and musical direction, the group reinvented themselves with their 1991 hit album Achtung Baby and the accompanying Zoo TV Tour. U2 integrated dance, industrial, and alternative rock influences into their sound and performances, and embraced a more ironic and self-deprecating image. Similar experimentation continued for the remainder of the 1990s with reduced levels of success. U2 regained critical and commercial favour after their 2000 record All That You Can't Leave Behind. On it and the group's subsequent releases, they pursued a more conventional sound while maintaining influences from their earlier musical explorations.
U2 have released 12 studio albums and are among the best-selling groups in popular music, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide. They have won 22 Grammy Awards, more than any other band. In 2005, U2 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. Rolling Stone ranked U2 at number 22 in its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". Throughout their career, as a band and as individuals, they have campaigned for human rights and philanthropic causes, including Amnesty International, the ONE/DATA campaigns, Product Red, and The Edge's Music Rising.
Formation and early years (1976–79)
U2-teenagers.jpgthumbU2 in 1980. Shown from left to right: Clayton, Mullen, Bono, The Edge.
The band formed in Dublin on 25 September 1976.McCormick (2006), p. 27 Larry Mullen, Jr., then a 14-year-old student at Mount Temple Comprehensive School, posted a note on the school's notice board in search of musicians for a new band—six people responded. Setting up in his kitchen, Mullen was on drums, with Paul Hewson (Bono) on lead vocals; David Evans (The Edge) and his older brother Dik Evans on guitar; Adam Clayton, a friend of the Evans brothers on bass guitar; and initially Ivan McCormick and Peter Martin, two other friends of Mullen.Chatterton (2001), p. 130 Mullen later described it as "'The Larry Mullen Band' for about ten minutes, then Bono walked in and blew any chance I had of being in charge." Soon after, the group settled on the name "Feedback" because it was one of the few technical terms they knew.McCormick (2006), p. 30 Martin did not return after the first practice, and McCormick left the group within a few weeks. Most of the group's initial material consisted of cover songs, which the band admitted was not their forté.McCormick (2006), pp. 35, 40 Some of the earliest influences on the band were emerging punk rock acts, such as The Jam, The Clash, The Buzzcocks, and The Sex Pistols. The popularity of punk rock convinced the group that musical proficiency was not a prerequisite to being successful.McCormick (2008), p. 37
In March 1977, the band changed their name to "The Hype".de la Parra (2003), p. 6 Dik Evans, who was older and by this time at college, was becoming the odd man out. The rest of the band was leaning towards the idea of a four-piece ensemble and he was "phased out" in March 1978. During a farewell concert in the Presbyterian Church Hall in Howth, which featured The Hype playing covers, Dik ceremoniously walked offstage. The remaining four band members completed the concert playing original material as "U2".McCormick (2006), pp. 46–48 Steve Averill, a punk rock musician and family friend of Clayton's, had suggested six potential names from which the band chose "U2" for its ambiguity and open-ended interpretations, and because it was the name that they disliked the least.McCormick (2006), p. 44
On Saint Patrick's Day in 1978, U2 won a talent show in Limerick, Ireland. The prize consisted of £500 and studio time to record a demo which would be heard by CBS Ireland. This win was an important milestone and affirmation for the fledgling band. U2 recorded their first demo tape at Keystone Studios in Dublin in May 1978.Wall (2005), p. 45 Hot Press magazine was influential in shaping the band's future; in May, Paul McGuinness, who had earlier been introduced to the band by the publication's journalist Bill Graham, agreed to be U2's manager.McCormick (2006), pp. 53–56 The group's first release, an Ireland-only EP entitled Three, was released in September 1979 and was their first Irish chart success.de la Parra (2003), p. 8 In December 1979, U2 performed in London for their first shows outside Ireland, although they failed to get much attention from audiences or critics.de la Parra (2003), p. 10 In February 1980, their second single "Another Day" was released on the CBS label, but again only for the Irish market.Stokes (1996), p. 142; McCormick (2006), p. 88
Boy, October, and War (1980–83)
Island Records signed U2 in March 1980, and in May, the band released "11 O'Clock Tick Tock" as their first international single.Stokes (1996), p. 142 The band's debut album, Boy, followed in October. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, it received generally positive reviews.; ; Although Bono's unfocused lyrics seemed improvised, they expressed a common theme: the dreams and frustrations of adolescence. The album included the band's first United States hit single, "I Will Follow". Boys release was followed by the Boy Tour, U2's first tour of continental Europe and the United States.de la Parra (2003), pp. 16, 17 Despite being unpolished, these early live performances demonstrated U2's potential, as critics noted that Bono was a "charismatic" and "passionate" showman.
The band's second album, October, was released in 1981 and contained overtly spiritual themes. During the album's recording sessions, Bono and The Edge considered quitting the band due to perceived spiritual conflicts.; McGee (2008), p. Bono, The Edge, and Mullen had joined a Christian group in Dublin called the "Shalom Fellowship", which led them to question the relationship between the Christian faith and the rock and roll lifestyle.Flanagan (1995), pp. 46–48 Bono and Edge took time off between tours and decided to leave Shalom in favour of continuing with the band. Recording was further complicated when a briefcase containing lyrics for several working songs was stolen from backstage during the band's performance at a nightclub in Portland, Oregon. The album received mixed reviews and limited radio play. Low sales outside the UK put pressure on their contract with Island and focused the band on improvement.McCormick (2006), p. 120
Resolving their doubts of the October period, U2 released War in 1983.Stokes (1996), p. 36 A record where the band "turned pacifism itself into a crusade",Reynolds (2006), p. 367 Wars sincerity and "rugged" guitar was intentionally at odds with the "cooler" synthpop of the time.Graham (2004), p. 14 The album included the politically charged "Sunday Bloody Sunday", where Bono had lyrically tried to contrast the events of Bloody Sunday with Easter Sunday.McCormick (2006), p. 135 Rolling Stone magazine wrote that the song showed the band was capable of deep and meaningful songwriting. War was U2's first album to feature the photography of Anton Corbijn, who remains U2's principal photographer and has had a major influence on their vision and public image.McCormick (2006), p. 127 U2's first commercial success, War debuted at number one in the UK, and its first single, "New Year's Day", was the band's first hit outside Ireland or the UK."New Year's Day" reached number ten on the UK charts and received extensive radio coverage in the US, almost breaking that country's Top 50. (McCormick (2006), p. 139);
U2 21081983 01 800b.jpgthumbalt=A black and white image of a light-skinned man with a microphone held to his mouth. He is visible from the chest up and wears a sleeveless black shirt with an opened sleeveless white vest overtop. A small cross is worn around his neck. His black hair is styled into a mullet. The man looks past the camera to the left. A mixture of trees and sky are visible in the background.Bono performs in Norway during the War Tour in 1983.
On the subsequent War Tour, the band performed sold-out concerts in mainland Europe and the US. The sight of Bono waving a white flag during performances of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" became the tour's iconic image. U2 recorded the Under a Blood Red Sky live album on this tour, as well as the Live at Red Rocks concert film, both of which received extensive play on the radio and MTV, expanding the band's audience and showcasing their prowess as a live act. Their record deal with Island Records was coming to an end, and in 1984 the band signed a more lucrative extension. They negotiated the return of their copyrights (so that they owned the rights to their own songs), an increase in their royalty rate, and a general improvement in terms, at the expense of a larger initial payment.
The Unforgettable Fire and Live Aid (1984–85)
The Unforgettable Fire was released in 1984. Ambient and abstract, it was at the time the band's most marked change in direction.de la Parra (2003), pp. 52–55 The band feared that following the overt rock of the War album and tour, they were in danger of becoming another "shrill", "sloganeering arena-rock band". Thus, experimentation was sought,Graham (2004), p. 21 as Adam Clayton recalls, "We were looking for something that was a bit more serious, more arty." The Edge admired the ambient and "weird works" of Brian Eno, who, along with his engineer Daniel Lanois, eventually agreed to produce the record.Island Records boss Chris Blackwell initially tried to discourage them from their choice of producers, believing that just when the band were about to achieve the highest levels of success, Eno would "bury them under a layer of avant-garde nonsense". (McCormick (2006), p. 151)
The Unforgettable Fire has a rich and orchestrated sound. Under Lanois' direction, Mullen's drumming became looser, funkier, and more subtle and Clayton's bass became more subliminal; the rhythm section no longer intruded, but flowed in support of the songs.Stokes (1996), pp. 50–51 Complementing the sonic atmospherics, the album's lyrics are open to many interpretations, providing what the band called a "very visual feel". Due to a tight recording schedule, however, Bono felt songs like "Bad" and "Pride (In the Name of Love)" were incomplete "sketches".McCormick (2006), p. 151 "Pride (In the Name of Love)", about Martin Luther King, Jr., was the album's first single and became the band's biggest hit to that point, including being their first to enter the US top 40.Graham, (2004), pp. 23–24
Much of The Unforgettable Fire Tour moved into indoor arenas as U2 began to win their long battle to build their audience.de la Parra (2003), pp. 62–63 The complex textures of the new studio-recorded tracks, such as "The Unforgettable Fire" and "Bad", were problematic to translate to live performances. One solution was programmed sequencers, which the band had previously been reluctant to use, but are now used in the majority of the band's performances. Songs on the album had been criticised as being "unfinished", "fuzzy", and "unfocused", but were better received by critics when played on stage.Rolling Stone, which was critical of the album version of "Bad", described its live performance as a 'show stopper'.
U2 participated in the Live Aid concert for Ethiopian famine relief at Wembley Stadium in July 1985. U2's performance in front of 82,000 fans was a pivotal point in the band's career.McCormick (2006), p. 164 During a 14-minute performance of the song "Bad", Bono leapt down off the stage to embrace and dance with a fan, showing a television audience of millions the personal connection that Bono could make with audiences.de la Parra (2003), pp. 72–73 In 1985, Rolling Stone magazine called U2 the "Band of the '80s", saying that "for a growing number of rock-and-roll fans, U2 have become the band that matters most, maybe even the only band that matters".
The Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum (1986–89)
Realising that "U2 had no tradition" and that their knowledge of music from before their childhood was limited, the group delved into American and Irish roots music.McCormick (2006), pp. 169, 177 Friendships with Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Keith Richards motivated the band to explore blues, folk, and gospel music and focused Bono on his skills as a songwriter and lyricist.McCormick (2006), p. 179 For their fifth album, The Joshua Tree,so named as a "tribute" to, rather than a "metaphor" for, America (McCormick (2006), p. 186) the band wanted to build on The Unforgettable Fires textures, but instead of out-of-focus experimentation, they sought a harder-hitting sound that used the limitation of strict song structures. U2 interrupted their 1986 album sessions to serve as a headline act on Amnesty International's A Conspiracy of Hope tour. Rather than being a distraction, the tour added extra intensity and power to their new material.McCormick (2006), p. 174 In 1986, Bono travelled to San Salvador and Nicaragua and saw first-hand the distress of peasants bullied in internal conflicts that were subject to American political intervention. The experience became a central influence on the new music.
Joshuatree.JPGthumbuprightleftThe tree pictured on The Joshua Tree album sleeve. Adam Clayton said, "The desert was immensely inspirational to us as a mental image for this record".Stokes (1996), p. 72
The Joshua Tree was released in March 1987. The album juxtaposes antipathy towards America against the group's deep fascination with the country, its open spaces, freedom, and its ideals.McCormick (2006), p. 186 The band wanted music with a sense of location and a "cinematic" quality, and the record's music and lyrics draw on imagery created by American writers whose works the band had been reading.Graham (2004), pp. 27–30 The Joshua Tree became the fastest-selling album in British chart history, and was number one for nine weeks in the United States.; McCormick (2006), p. 186 The first two singles, "With or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", quickly became the group's first number-one hits in the US. They became the fourth rock band to be featured on the cover of Time magazine,The Beatles, The Band, and The Who were the first three. which declared U2 "Rock's Hottest Ticket"."" Time Archive, April 1987. Retrieved on 20 January 2007. The album won U2 their first two Grammy Awards,Grammy Award for Album of the Year and a Grammy for the Best Rock Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocal. grammy.com. Retrieved 4 December 2006. and it brought the band a new level of success. Many publications, including Rolling Stone, have cited it as one of rock's greatest. The Joshua Tree Tour was the first tour on which the band played shows in stadiums, alongside smaller arena shows.de la Parra (2003), pp. 102–103, 111
The documentary Rattle and Hum featured footage recorded from The Joshua Tree Tour, and the accompanying double album of the same name included nine studio tracks and six live U2 performances. Released in October 1988, the album and film were intended as a tribute to American music,Stokes (1996), p. 78; Graham (2004), pp. 36–38 and included recordings at Sun Studios in Memphis and performances with Bob Dylan and B. B. King. Rattle and Hum performed modestly at the box office and received mixed reviews from both film and music critics;. Allmusic.com. Retrieved 3 November 2006; Christgau, Robert. ". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 3 November 2006. one Rolling Stone editor spoke of the album's "excitement", another described it as "bombastic and misguided".Rolling Stone (1994), p. xxiii The film's director, Phil Joanou, described it as "an overly pretentious look at U2".Rolling Stone (1994), p. xxiv Most of the album's new material was played on 1989's Lovetown Tour, which visited Australia, Japan and Europe, because the band wanted to avoid the American backlash. In addition, they had grown dissatisfied with their live performances; Mullen recalled that "We were the biggest, but we weren't the best". With a sense of musical stagnation, Bono said to fans on one of the last dates of the tour that it was "the end of something for U2" and that they had to "go away and just dream it all up again".McCormick (2006), p. 213; "A Story of One" .
Achtung Baby, Zoo TV, and Zooropa (1990–93)
Stung by the criticism of Rattle and Hum, the band made a calculated change in musical and thematic direction for their seventh studio album, Achtung Baby; the shift was one of their most dramatic since The Unforgettable Fire.Flanagan (1995), pp. 4–6; Graham (2004), p. 43 Seeking inspiration on the eve of German reunification, they began work on the album in East Berlin in October 1990 with producers Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno.Flanagan (1995), p. 7
The sessions were fraught with conflict, as the band argued over their musical direction and the quality of their material. While Clayton and Mullen preferred a sound similar to U2's previous work, Bono and The Edge were inspired by industrial music and European electronic dance music and advocated a change. After weeks of tension and slow progress, the group made a breakthrough with the improvised writing of the song "One".Flanagan (1995), pp. 6–11 They returned to Dublin in 1991, where morale improved and the majority of the album was completed.
In November 1991, U2 released Achtung Baby. Sonically, it incorporated alternative rock, dance, and industrial music influences of the time, and the band referred to the album's musical departure as "four men chopping down the Joshua Tree". Thematically, it was a more introspective and personal record; it was darker, yet at times more flippant than the band's previous work. Commercially and critically, it has been one of the band's most successful albums. It produced the hit singles "The Fly", "Mysterious Ways", and "One", and it was a crucial part of the band's early 1990s reinvention.Graham (2004), p. 44 Like The Joshua Tree, many publications have cited the record as one of rock's greatest.
ZooTVBstage.jpgthumbalt=In an outdoor stadium at night with an elaborate concert stage set bearing a logo that reads "Zoo TV", a number of white lights shine from various angles into the center of the audience on the stadium floor, where a musical performance is taking place on a very small stage.The Zoo TV Tour was a multimedia-intensive event, featuring a stage that used dozens of video screens.
Like Achtung Baby, the 1992–1993 Zoo TV Tour was an unequivocal break with the band's past. In contrast to the austere stage setups of previous U2 tours, Zoo TV was an elaborate multimedia event. It satirised the pervasive nature of television and its blurring of news, entertainment, and home shopping by attempting to instill "sensory overload" in its audience.de la Parra (2003), pp. 139–141; Flanagan (1995), pp. 12, 13, 58–61; Stokes (1996), pp. 110–111 The stage featured large video screens that showed visual effects, random video clips from pop culture, and flashing text phrases.McGee (2008), p. 143 Whereas U2 were known for their earnest performances in the 1980s, the group's Zoo TV performances were intentionally ironic and self-deprecating; on stage, Bono performed as several over-the-top characters, including "The Fly", "Mirror Ball Man", and "MacPhisto". Prank phone calls were made to President Bush, the United Nations, and others. Live satellite uplinks to war-torn Sarajevo caused controversy.de la Parra (2003), pp. 153, 166
Quickly recorded during a break in the Zoo TV tour in mid-1993, the Zooropa album continued many of the themes from Achtung Baby and the Zoo TV Tour. Initially intended as an EP, the band expanded Zooropa into a full-length LP album. It was an even greater departure from the style of their earlier recordings, incorporating further dance influences and other electronic effects.Graham (2004), p. 51 Johnny Cash sang the lead vocals on "The Wanderer". Most of the songs were played at least once during the 1993 leg of the tour, which visited Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan; half the album's tracks became fixtures in the setlist.de la Parra (2003), pp. 166–172
Passengers, Pop, and PopMart (1994–99)
In 1995, U2 released an experimental album called Original Soundtracks 1. Brian Eno, producer of three previous U2 albums, contributed as a full partner, including writing and performing. For this reason and due to the record's highly experimental nature, the band chose to release it under the moniker "Passengers" to distinguish it from U2's conventional albums. Mullen said of the album, "There's a thin line between interesting music and self-indulgence. We crossed it on the Passengers record." It was commercially unnoticed by U2 standards and it received generally poor reviews. However, the single "Miss Sarajevo" featuring Luciano Pavarotti, which Bono cites as one of his favourite U2 songs,McCormick (2006), pp. 261–262 was successful.
On 1997's Pop, U2 continued experimenting; tape loops, programming, rhythm sequencing, and sampling provided much of the album with heavy, funky dance rhythms.Graham (2004), pp. 62–63 Released in March, the album debuted at number one in 35 countries and drew mainly positive reviews.; Rolling Stone, for example, stated that U2 had "defied the odds and made some of the greatest music of their lives". Others felt that the album was a major disappointment and sales were poor compared to previous U2 releases.; ; The band was hurried into completing the album in time for the impending pre-booked tour, and Bono admitted that the album "didn't communicate the way it was intended to".
U2 PopMart Tour, Belfast, August 1997 (01).jpgthumbrightThe PopMart Tour stage featured a golden arch, mirrorball lemon, and, at the time, the largest LED screen in the world.
The subsequent tour, PopMart, commenced in April 1997. Like Zoo TV, it poked fun at pop culture and was intended to send a sarcastic message to those accusing U2 of commercialism. The stage included a tall golden yellow arch (reminiscent of the McDonald's logo), a long video screen, and a tall mirrorball lemon. U2's "big shtick" failed, however, to satisfy many who were seemingly confused by the band's new kitsch image and elaborate sets.; Anderson, Kyle (4 October 2006). spin.com. Retrieved on 29 December 2006. The postponement of Pops release date in order to complete the album meant rehearsal time for the tour was severely reduced, and performances in early shows suffered.de la Parra (2003), pp. 193–202 A highlight of the tour was a concert in Sarajevo where U2 were the first major group to perform there following the Bosnian War. rockonthenet.com. Retrieved 31 October 2006. Mullen described the concert as "an experience I will never forget for the rest of my life, and if I had to spend 20 years in the band just to play that show, and have done that, I think it would have been worthwhile." msn.com. Retrieved 15 January 2007; Furthermore, Bono described the show as "one of the toughest and one of the sweetest nights of my life". ( The Independent (26 September 1997). Retrieved 15 January 2007. One month following the conclusion of the PopMart Tour, U2 appeared on the 200th episode of The Simpsons, "Trash of the Titans", in which Homer Simpson disrupted the band on stage during a PopMart concert.
"Reapplying for the job of the best band in the world" (2000–06)
U2 Super Bowl.jpgthumbU2 perform at Super Bowl XXXVI Halftime Show, 3 February 2002.
Following the comparatively poor reception of Pop, U2 declared they were "reapplying for the job ... the best band in the world", and they have since pursued a more conventional rock sound mixed with the influences of their 1990s musical explorations.McCormick (2006), pp. 289, 296 All That You Can't Leave Behind was released in October 2000 and was produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. For many of those not won over by the band's 1990s music, it was considered a return to grace; Guardian.co.uk (27 October 2000). Retrieved on 31 October 2006 Rolling Stone called it U2's "third masterpiece" alongside The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby. The album debuted at number one in 22 countries therockradio.com. Retrieved 31 October 2006. and its worldwide hit single, "Beautiful Day" earned three Grammy Awards. The album's other three singles also won Grammy Awards.
For the Elevation Tour, U2 performed in a scaled-down setting, returning to arenas after nearly a decade of stadium productions. A heart-shaped stage and ramp permitted greater proximity to the audience. Following the September 11 attacks, the new album gained added resonance,McCormick (2006), pp. 308–309 and in October, U2 performed at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Bono and The Edge later said these New York City shows were among their most memorable and emotional performances.; McCormick (2006), p. 309 In early 2002, U2 performed during halftime of Super Bowl XXXVI,de la Parra (2003), p. 268 which SI.com ranked as the best halftime show in Super Bowl history.
The band's next studio album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, was released in November 2004. The band were looking for a harder-hitting rock sound than All That You Can't Leave Behind. Thematically, Bono stated that "A lot of the songs are paeans to naiveté, a rejection of knowingness." The first single, "Vertigo", was featured on an internationally aired television commercial for the Apple iPod, and a U2 iPod and an iTunes U2 box set were released as part of a promotion with Apple. The album debuted at number one in the US, where the first week's sales doubled that of All That You Can't Leave Behind and set a record for the band. Claiming it as a contender as one of U2's three best albums, Bono said, "There are no weak songs. But as an album, the whole isn't greater than the sum of its parts, and it fucking annoys me." The Vertigo Tour featured a setlist that varied more across dates than any U2 tour since the Lovetown Tour, and it included songs not played since the early 1980s. Like the Elevation Tour, the Vertigo Tour was a commercial success.Waddell, Ray (13 December 2005). Billboard. Retrieved 31 October 2006. The album and its singles won Grammy Awards in all eight categories in which U2 were nominated. In 2005, Bruce Springsteen inducted U2 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A 3-D concert film, U2 3D, filmed at nine concerts during the Latin American and Australian legs of the Vertigo Tour was released on 23 January 2008.
In August 2006, the band incorporated its publishing business in The Netherlands following the capping of Irish artists' tax exemption at €250,000. The Edge stated that businesses often seek to minimise their tax burdens. The move was criticised in the Irish parliament. The band said the criticism was unfair, stating that approximately 95% of their business took place outside of Ireland, that they were taxed globally because of this, and that they were all "personal investors and employers in the country". In March 2008, U2 signed a 12-year deal with Live Nation worth an estimated $100 million (£50 million), which includes Live Nation controlling the band's merchandise, sponsoring, and their official website.
No Line on the Horizon and U2 360° Tour (2007–present)
U2 360 Tour Croke Park 2.jpgthumbalt=A concert stage; four large legs curve up above the stage and hold a video screen which is extended down to the band. The legs are lit up in green. The video screen has multi-coloured lights flashing on it. The audience surrounds the stage on all sides.The stage structure from the U2 360° Tour allows for a 360-degree seating configuration.
U2's twelfth album, No Line on the Horizon, was released in February 2009. Intended as a more experimental work than their previous two albums, it was produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, who share songwriting credits with the band. The band had worked on new songs with producer Rick Rubin in 2006, but the material was shelved. In June 2007 the band began writing and recording with Eno and Lanois. Note: subscription required. Recording continued through 2008 in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and in Fez, Morocco, where the band explored North African music. The album was completed in December 2008 and received generally positive reviews, including their first five-star Rolling Stone review. Critics, however, noted it was not as experimental as expected. The album debuted at number one in over 30 countries, but the album's sales have been comparatively low by U2 standards and it did not contain a hit single.
The group commenced the U2 360° Tour in 2009. The shows feature the largest concert stage structure ever and a 360-degree staging/audience configuration that allows fans to surround the stage from all sides. The tour visited European and North American stadiums in 2009, with additional shows in Europe in 2010. The band finished off 2010 with shows in Australia and New Zealand and kicked off 2011 with shows in South Africa; additional shows are planned for South America and North America later in the year. U2's scheduled headline appearance at the Glastonbury Festival 2010 was cancelled and the 2010 North American leg of the tour postponed following a serious injury to Bono's back.
In 2009, Rolling Stone named U2 one of eight "Artists of the Decade". The group's tours ranked them second in total concert grosses for the decade after The Rolling Stones, although U2 had a significantly higher attendance figure than the Stones. They were the only band in the top 25 touring acts of the 2000s to sell out every show they played.
U2 360 at Cowboys Stadium.jpgthumbalt=U2 performs on a stage. Bono stands in the center facing away towards a drum kit, with each leg on an amplifier. The Edge, playing guitar to his right, faces him. Adam Clayton, playing bass to his Bono's left, faces him. Fans are visible in the backgroundU2 performing at the Cowboys Stadium, Arlington in the United States in 2009. The Edge has described the band as a fundamentally live band.
Since their inception, U2 have developed and maintained a distinctly recognisable sound, with emphasis on melodic instrumentals and expressive, larger-than-life vocals. This approach is rooted partly in the early influence of record producer Steve Lillywhite at a time when the band was not known for musical proficiency. The Edge has consistently used a rhythmic echo and a signature delayGulla (2009), p. 64 to craft his guitar work, coupled with an Irish-influenced drone played against his syncopated melodies that ultimately yields a well-defined ambient, chiming sound. Bono has nurtured his falsetto operatic voice and has exhibited a notable lyrical bent towards social, political, and personal subject matter while maintaining a grandiose scale in his songwriting. In addition, The Edge has described U2 as a fundamentally live band.
Despite these broad consistencies, U2 have introduced brand new elements into their musical repertoire with each new album. U2's early sound was influenced by bands such as Television and Joy Division, and has been described as containing a "sense of exhilaration" that resulted from The Edge's "radiant chords" and Bono's "ardent vocals".Reynolds (2006), p. 368 U2's sound began with post-punk roots and minimalistic and uncomplicated instrumentals heard on Boy and October, but evolved through War to include aspects of rock anthem, funk, and dance rhythms to become more versatile and aggressive. Boy and War were labelled "muscular and assertive" by Rolling Stone, influenced in large part by Lillywhite's producing. The Unforgettable Fire, which began with The Edge playing more keyboards than guitars, as well as follow-up The Joshua Tree, had Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois at the production helm. With their influence, both albums achieved a "diverse texture". The songs from The Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum placed more emphasis on Lanois-inspired rhythm as they mixed distinct and varied styles of gospel and blues music, which stemmed from the band's burgeoning fascination with America's culture, people and places. In the 1990s, U2 reinvented themselves as they began using synthesisers, distortion, and electronic beats derived from alternative rock, industrial music, dance, and hip-hop on Achtung Baby, Zooropa, and Pop. The 2000s had U2 returning to a stripped-down sound, with a more traditional rhythm and less obvious use of synthesisers and effects.
Lyrics and themes
Social and political commentary, often embellished with Christian and spiritual imagery, are a major aspect of U2's lyrical content. Songs such as "Sunday Bloody Sunday", "Silver and Gold", and "Mothers of the Disappeared" were motivated by current events of the time. The former was written about the troubles in Northern Ireland,McCormick (2006), pp. 135, 139 while the latter concerns the struggle of COMADRES—the Mothers of the Disappeared—a group of women whose children were killed or "disappeared" by the government during the Salvadoran Civil War.McGee (2008), p. 98
Bono's personal conflicts and turmoil inspired family colour songs like "Mofo", "Tomorrow" and "Kite". An emotional yearning or pleading frequently appears as a lyrical theme, in tracks such as "Yahweh", "Peace on Earth", and "Please". Much of U2's songwriting and music is also motivated by contemplations of loss and anguish, coupled with hopefulness and resiliency, themes that are central to The Joshua Tree. Some of these lyrical ideas have been amplified by Bono and the band's personal experiences during their youth in Ireland, as well as Bono's campaigning and activism later in his life. U2 have used tours such as Zoo TV and PopMart to caricature social trends, such as media overload and consumerism, respectively.
While the band and its fans often affirm the political nature of their music, U2's lyrics and music have been criticised as apolitical because of their vagueness and "fuzzy imagery", and a lack of any specific references to actual people or characters.
The band cites The Who,McCormick (2006), p. 113 The Clash, Ramones, The Beatles, Joy Division,NewOrderStory . Warner Bros., 2005. Siouxsie and the Banshees,McCormick (2006), p. 56, 58, 96 Elvis Presley, and Patti Smith as influences. Van Morrison has been cited by Bono as an influenceBayles (1994), p. 321 and his influence on U2 is pointed out by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Other musicians and bands such as Radiohead, Snow Patrol, The Fray, OneRepublic, OneRepublic's AmIAnnoying.com. Retrieved on 8 February 2008. Coldplay, This Allure, This Allure – InReview.net The Academy Is..., The Killers, Your Vegas, and Angels & AirwavesNME's 10 Most Influential Bands/Artists. NME Magazine, 2002; Chan, Alvin. musicOMH.com June 2006. Retrieved 18 February 2007. have in turn been influenced by the work of U2. U2 have also worked and/or had influential relationships with artists including Johnny Cash, Green Day, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, B.B. King, Lou Reed, Luciano Pavarotti,McCormick (2006), pp. 39, 113, 343 Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Wim Wenders, R.E.M., Salman Rushdie, and Anton Corbijn.
Campaigning and activism
LulaAndBonoVox.jpegthumbBono with then-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil.
Since the early 1980s, the members of U2—as a band and individually—have collaborated with other musicians, artists, celebrities, and politicians to address issues concerning poverty, disease, and social injustice.
In 1984, Bono and Adam Clayton participated in Band Aid to raise money for Ethiopian famine relief. This initiative produced the hit charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas?", which would be the first among several collaborations between U2 and Bob Geldof. In July 1985, U2 played Live Aid, a follow-up to Band Aid's efforts. Bono and his wife Ali, invited by World Vision, later visited Ethiopia where they witnessed the famine first hand. Bono would later say this laid the groundwork for his Africa campaigning and some of his songwriting.Tyrangiel, Josh (4 March 2002). Time. Retrieved 16 January 2007; McCormick (2006), p. 289
In 1986, U2 participated in the A Conspiracy of Hope tour in support of Amnesty International and in Self Aid for unemployment in Ireland. The same year, Bono and Ali Hewson also visited Nicaragua and El Salvador at the invitation of the Sanctuary movement, and saw the effects of the El Salvador Civil War. These 1986 events greatly influenced The Joshua Tree album, which was being recorded at the time.
In 1992, the band participated in the "Stop Sellafield" concert with Greenpeace during their Zoo TV tour.McCormick (2006), p. 238 Events in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war inspired the song "Miss Sarajevo", which premiered at a September 1995 Pavarotti and Friends show, and which Bono and the Edge performed at War Child.McCormick (2006), p. 262 A promise made in 1993 was kept when the band played in Sarajevo as part of 1997's PopMart Tour.McCormick (2006), p. 277 In 1998, they performed in Belfast days prior to the vote on the Good Friday Agreement, bringing Northern Irish political leaders David Trimble and John Hume on stage to promote the agreement.McCormick (2006), pp. 285–286 Later that year, all proceeds from the release of the "Sweetest Thing" single went towards supporting the Chernobyl Children's Project.
In 2001, the band dedicated "Walk On" to Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.McCormick (2006), pp. 295–296 In late 2003, Bono and the Edge participated in the South Africa HIV/AIDS awareness 46664 series of concerts hosted by Nelson Mandela. The band played 2005's Live 8 concert in London. The band and manager Paul McGuinness were awarded Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience Award for their work in promoting human rights. artforamnesty.org. Retrieved 5 February 2007.
Since 2000, Bono's campaigning has included Jubilee 2000 with Bob Geldof, Muhammad Ali, and others to promote the cancellation of third world debt during the Great Jubilee. In January 2002, Bono co-founded the multinational NGO, DATA, with the aim of improving the social, political, and financial state of Africa. He continued his campaigns for debt and HIV/AIDS relief into June 2002 by making high-profile visits to Africa.; CNN.com. Retrieved 31 October 2006; . CNN.com, 21 June 2002. Retrieved 31 October 2006.
Product Red, a 2006 for-profit brand seeking to raise money for the Global Fund, was founded, in part, by Bono. The ONE Campaign, originally the US counterpart of Make Poverty History, was shaped by his efforts and vision.
In late 2005, following Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, The Edge helped introduce Music Rising, an initiative to raise funds for musicians who lost their instruments in the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast. modernguitars.com. Retrieved 16 January 2007. In 2006, U2 collaborated with punk rock band Green Day to record a remake of the song "The Saints Are Coming" by The Skids to benefit Music Rising.
U2 and Bono's social activism have not been without its critics, however. Several authors and activists who publish in politically left journals such as CounterPunch have decried Bono's support of political figures such as Paul Wolfowitz, as well as his "essential paternalism". Other news sources have more generally questioned the efficacy of Bono's campaign to relieve debt and provide assistance to Africa.; and Tax and development campaigners have also criticised the band's move from Ireland to the Netherlands to reduce its tax bill.Richard Murphy, "Bono's Choice", http
The members of U2 have undertaken a number of side projects, sometimes in collaboration with some of their bandmates. In 1985, Bono recorded the song "In a Lifetime" with the Irish band Clannad. The Edge recorded a solo soundtrack album for the film Captive in 1986,McCormick (2006), p. 169 which included a vocal performance by Sinéad O'Connor that predates her own debut album by a year. Bono and The Edge wrote the song "She's a Mystery to Me" for Roy Orbison, which was featured on his 1989 album Mystery Girl.McCormick (2006), p. 211 In 1990, Bono and The Edge provided the soundtrack to Royal Shakespeare Company London stage version of A Clockwork Orange (only one track was ever released, on the b-side to "The Fly" single). That same year, Mullen co-wrote and produced a song for the Irish International soccer team in Italia '90, called "Put 'Em Under Pressure", which topped the Irish charts. Together with The Edge, Bono wrote the song "GoldenEye" for the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye, which was performed by Tina Turner.de la Parra (2003), p. 141 Clayton and Mullen reworked the title track of the movie Mission: Impossible in 1996.de la Parra (2003), p. 132 Bono loaned his voice to "Joy" on Mick Jagger's 2001 album Goddess in the Doorway. Bono also recorded a spare, nearly spoken-word version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" for the Tower of Song compilation in 1995. Additionally, in 1998, Bono collaborated with Kirk Franklin and Crystal Lewis (along with controversial mainstream artists R. Kelly and Mary J. Blige) for a successful gospel song called "Lean on Me".
Aside from musical collaborations, U2 have worked with several authors. American author William S. Burroughs had a guest appearance in U2's video for "Last Night on Earth" shortly before he died. NME. Retrieved on 22 November 2010 His poem "A Thanksgiving Prayer" was used as video footage during the band's Zoo TV Tour. Other collaborators include William Gibson and Allen Ginsberg.Pancella, Angela. atu2.com. Retrieved on 25 January 2008; PBS.com. Retrieved on 25 January 2008. In early 2000, the band recorded three songs for The Million Dollar Hotel movie soundtrack, including "The Ground Beneath Her Feet", which was co-written by Salman Rushdie and motivated by his book of the same name. CNN.com (22 January 1999). Retrieved on 25 January 2008.
In 2007 Bono appeared in the movie Across the Universe and performed The Beatles songs. Bono and The Edge also wrote the music and lyrics for the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Additionally, The Edge created the theme song for Season 1 and 2 of the animated television series The Batman.Pompeo, Joe (3 March 2009). (HTML). The New York Observer. The New York Observer, LLC. Retrieved on 8 March 2009
Bono Edge Foxboro 09212009 U2360.jpgthumbRolling Stone ranked The Edge and Bono among the greatest guitarists and singers, respectively.alt=The Edge and Bono stand on a darkened stage, with lit-up smoke behind them. The Edge is strumming a guitar while Bono holds a microphone to his mouth.
U2 first received Grammy Awards for The Joshua Tree in 1988, and have won 22 in total, from 34 nominations, more than any other band.; grammy.com. Retrieved 15 October 2006. These include Best Rock Duo or Group, Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Rock Album. The British Phonographic Industry has awarded U2 seven BRIT Awards, five of these being for Best International Group. In Ireland, U2 have won 14 Meteor Awards since the awards began in 2001. Other awards include one AMA, four VMAs, ten Q Awards, two Juno Awards, three NME Awards, and a Golden Globe Award. The band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in early 2005. In 2006, all four members of the band received ASCAP awards for writing the songs, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", and "Vertigo".
U2 have sold more than 150 million records, placing them amongst the best-selling music artists of all-time. The Joshua Tree ranks as one of the best-selling albums in the US, having shipped 10 million units, and it is also among the best-selling albums worldwide with sales of 25 million copies. Rolling Stone ranked U2 at number 22 in its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time", while ranking Bono the 32nd greatest singer and The Edge the 24th greatest guitarist. In 2010, eight of U2's songs appeared on Rolling Stones updated list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time", with "One" ranking the highest at number 36. Five of the group's twelve studio albums were ranked on Rolling Stones 2003 list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time"—The Joshua Tree placed the highest at number 26.
* Boy (1980)
* October (1981)
* War (1983)
* The Unforgettable Fire (1984)
* The Joshua Tree (1987)
* Rattle and Hum (1988)
* Achtung Baby (1991)
* Zooropa (1993)
* Pop (1997)
* All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000)
* How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004)
* No Line on the Horizon (2009)
* This text has been derived from U2 on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0