What in your opinion is the album with the best opening in the history of music?
Well, it's really hard to pick one, but what's certain is that "The Joshua Tree" - "U2's" fifth album released on March 9, 1987, is at the top of the list, along with "The Dark Side Of The Moon" and others.
Yes, Brian Eno's mesmerizing keyboard carpets, which opens "Where the Streets Have No Name", starts out soft and caressing and slowly gets louder. The Edge's guitar emerges from behind in a like-circular-walk on the strings, back and forth, as if in an intensifying stimulus that leads you to the inevitable climax that arrives somewhere at 1:06, when the guitar simply breaks through the keyboards wall just like a Roman ram and gives the rhythm section's the command to charge as if they where the royal cavalry. First, the striker power with Adam Clayton's beating bass in the 1:09 minute "Tin, ba, ba, ba, ba ...." and immediately after that Larry Mullen Jr.'s elephant corps gallops forward and when Bono sings "I want to tear down the walls .. "It is already clear to everyone what he is singing about.
That's how a masterpiece album should open up. An album that raised "U2" to the Premier League of the greatest rock bands of all time, an album that turned it from a band of "medium-sized" arenas "into a huge stadium giant.
If "War" influenced the alternative sound of the 1980s, then this album just redefined it.
There was initially no consensus among the band members as to the album's musical direction, but what was clear to everyone was that they wanted to stay away from the "synthpop" and "new wave" that ruled the music market during the 1980s. Eventually they all managed to find a common ground, an album that would focus around what they defined as the "primary colors of rock". Guitar, bass, drums. It all happened after Bono spent time with Keith Richards and Mick Jagger of "the Rolling Stones" in 1985 and the two played him Blues and Country records. Also The Edge discovered the Blues and Country artists like Howlin' Wolf, Robert Johnson and Hank Williams. The musical background of the two was based on Punk Rock and they were simply embarrassed by the fact that they did not know these genres well, so they made a decision to explore them more in depth.
The decision regarding the album's musical line, the blues and country influences the band consciously chose to follow and the incredible production work of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois with the help of Flood, who decided to hold the recordings in an old Irish house converted into a recording studio, created a winning combination that led to this masterpiece.
This album fulfilled the band's ongoing affair with America. The band's tour of the United States in the early 1980s, led the band to choose "America" as the general theme that will accompany the album and it does exist there and in a big way. Starting with the gospel of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", through the slide guitar and acoustic blues of "Running to Stand Still" and the "Bob Dylanish" harmonica of "Trip Through Your Wires", to the album cover that the band first shot in the US.
As with previous albums, this time too the Irish-Catholic influences of the band members and their religious beliefs, are evident, as a source of inspiration for some of the album's lyrics. The spiritual search for "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", the "heaven" hinted as a place where the streets have no names in "Where the Streets Have No Name", the mention of Jacob's struggle with the angel in the song "Bullet the Blue Sky" and the reference to the sons of Cain in the song "In God's Country".
This album has a simply inconceivable hit sequence: "Where the Streets Have No Name", whose work consumed about 40% of the studio time allocated to the recording of the entire album and whose lyrics were influenced by a story Bono heard about Belfast being able to learn about a person's income and religion only from the street where he lives, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", which began with a jam session that included a very special Larry Mulan drumming pattern, "With or Without You", which was the band's first hit to reach the top of the US charts, "Bullet the Blue Sky", influenced by the civil war in El Salvador that Bono visited and includes the lyrics "Rattle and Hum" that will serve as the title for the next album, "Running to Stand Still" - the quiet and chilling ballad about a pair of heroin addicts from Dublin, "Red Hill Mining Town", about the British miners' strike in 1984 and more and more ...
This album is dedicated to one of the band's crew members, Greg Carroll, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in Dublin. The band members traveled to New Zealand, Carol's birthplace, to attend his funeral. The tragedy and experience of the band members from the unfortunate accident, inspiration the song "One Tree Hill", which as mentioned was entirely dedicated to Greg Carroll.
Upon its release, the album received rave reviews from various critics. "The Joshua Tree" is on almost every possible ranking list of the greatest albums of all time. It broke a record as the fastest-selling album in the UK, having received platinum status within 48 hours of its release. This is the band's best-selling album, which has sold over 25 million copies worldwide, while conquering the top of the album sales charts, in over 20 countries.
It is interesting to note, that despite his great success, despite the rave reviews and despite it's tremendous influence, years later the band members did their best to move far from it. Bono noted in one of his interviews that "Achtung Baby" is "the sound of four men chopping down The Joshua Tree"...