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Mojo AUGUST 2007 - by Johnny Black
U2: THE JOSHUA TREE
Sonically huge but spiritually intimate, this was the holy grail for stadium rockers.
U2 drummer Larry Mullen was famously too embarrassed to tell his girlfriend that his band's new album was going to be named after a cactus. He needn't have been. 1984's The Unforgettable Fire had pushed back the boundaries of epic rock via the soundscaping wizardry of the innovative production duo Brian Eno and Dan Lanois, but this second collaboration took things much further. "It's like a journey," explained bassist Adam Clayton. "You start in the desert, come swooping in Central America." By allowing tracks to evolve out of spontaneous studio jams, incorporating grittier elements of roots R&B and primitive rural blues into their impressionistic, widescreen aural landscapes, U2 had successfully crafted a musical panorama as deep and wide as America's vast open spaces. Edge's guitar pushed their textures to new limits with cuts like Bullet The Blue Sky, while Bono's voice remained front and centre on such sweeping anthems as I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For and With Or Without You, perfectly articulating the yearnings of every individual approaching a spiritual crossroads in the decade of vulgar materialism. Who says the devil has all the best tunes?
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