U2 - Simply The Best

This album has been recognised as the breakthrough album in the USA, and to a lot of U2 fans this is a seminal album that has proved to be the basis for their following albums. Originally this album was going to be called the “The Enduring Chill”, but after they visited Death Valley in California, where Joshua Trees are very common, they called it ‘The Joshua Tree’.

The album was recorded during the autumn and winter of 1986, at Windmill Lane Studios, with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois as the main producers and Steve Lillywhite was asked to remix three tracks in January 1987. This album went on to win a Grammy for best album.

The album was released, worldwide, on the 9th March 1987 and became one of the fastest selling albums of all time in the UK, entering the chart at number 1. In the USA the album reached number 1 on March 25th 1987 it would also be number 1 in a further 21 countries world-wide and sell over 16 million copies.

‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ is a track that has a very quiet beginning and builds to a crescendo of sound. This song is very much a lament about how the urban environment is destroying everything that has been created, both on a physical and spiritual level. This was released as a single in August 1987 and has also become a live favourite as well as a very popular song in general amongst fans.

‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ is of the more musically relaxed numbers on the album. Bono with the vocals, acoustic guitar played by The Edge backed up by Larry playing bongo drums. The title came from something that The Edge had said, and with Bono’s vocals you can see that the band were still developing spiritually and musically since the release of ‘Boy’. This song was released as a single in the UK and USA, where it reached number 1, while in the UK it only reached number 6.

‘With or Without You’ was the first single off the album and was to give the band their first ever number 1 single in the USA, in the UK it reached number 4. To many U2 fans, this song is the most complete and best song that U2 have ever written, recorded and performed live. There is a very steady beat provided by Adam on bass and Larry on drums, while The Edge is on guitar and Bono is singing some inspired lyrics. Even the producers appear on this track, playing the keyboards and the tambourine.

‘Bullet The Blue Sky’ is very much about the love-hate relationship the band have with America. The song was inspired by a visit Bono made to the Central American countries of Nicaragua and El Salvador in 1985, as a guest of Amnesty International. Here he viewed at first hand the effect of the USA’s foreign policy, and in the civil wars there, the innocent were caught in the crossfire. The Edge uses the slide guitar very heavily on this track with the steady drumming of Larry. This is a very popular live song.

‘Running To Stand Still’ starts very quietly with The Edge on slide guitar before he moves on to play the piano. This track is in reference to the heroin problem in Dublin, and the “seven towers” refers to the tower blocks of the Ballymum Estate.

‘Red Hill Mining Town’ was inspired by the miner’s strike of 1984-85, when many miners lost their jobs and pits were being closed down. Bono had also read a book called Red Hill, by Tony Parker, who wrote how mining towns were being torn apart, and this inspired Bono to write the lyrics to this song.

‘In God’s Country’ again this song was inspired by America, but this time it is the opposite of ‘Bullet The Blue Sky’. The acoustic guitar is a very prominent feel about this track, and is different to what else is on the album.

‘Trip Through Your Wires’ this song has very strong and positive American influences on it with a feel of country. On this track Bono plays the harmonica.

‘One Tree Hill’ this song was written about Greg Carroll, a personal assistant to Bono, who died in a motorcycle accident,. ‘One Tree Hill’ takes its name from where the band first met Greg, outside Auckland, New Zealand.

‘Exit’ is a very dark and intense piece of music, which starts so quietly and then builds into a crescendo before sliding away quietly. Adam’s bass playing holds this track together. This song originally had the working title of ‘The Executioner’s Song’. ‘Exit’ was also cited in the murder trial of John Bardo, who tried to blame the song into driving him to kill Rebecca Schaeffer. Though this defense was unsuccessful!

‘Mothers of The Disappeared’ was influenced by Bono’s visit to El Salvador, where he met the madres. The madres (mothers) had their children snatched from them by the authorities, during the night, never to be seen again. This is a very quiet piece of music that is reflective of what Bono saw. This is reflected in the music and the tempo.