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Joshua Tree 25 years later: Is it still (or was it ever) U2's best album?



the-joshua-tree1.jpgExpect a lot of U2 this week in print, the Internet and on the radio: March 9 marks the 25th anniversary of the band's fifth studio album, Joshua Tree. It was the album, some critics said, that turned the Irish lads from music stars to superheroes.

But is that necessarily a good thing? When you're on top, there's usually only one direction you can go.

Rolling Stone named it the third best album of the '80s (behind only Purple Rain at No. 2, and London Calling in the top stop; just ahead of Remain in Light and Graceland).

"I just think the album takes you somewhere," bassist Adam Clayton told the magazine. "It's like a journey. You start in the desert, come swooping down in Central America. Running for your life. It takes me somewhere, and hopefully it does that for everyone else."

Yes, yes. All good things. But the question remains: Is it U2's best record? 

Some would argue Achtung Baby in 1991 was superior, as Stuck in the '80s co-host Sean asserted back in 2009. That same time, I maintained that 1984's Unforgettable Fire was the top record. Oddly enough, neither of us felt much for Joshua Tree. Will that change this week now that we lend fresh ears to the hits from the record (With or Without You, Where the Streets Have No Names, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For) and the dogs (Trip Through Your Wires, Exit).

Ultimately, I think we all gravitate toward the music that was new during special times in our lives. Unforgettable Fire came out my senior year in high school. Every track on the album is burned into some experience from that year that I've never forgotten. The next two albums? Just white noise in my brain bank. Doesn't make them inferior products; just not a mental bookmark for me.

As we prepare for a podcast on the anniversary of Joshua Tree, we want your thoughts. Leave us a comment below -- either on Joshua Tree or on the album you think was U2's best.

[Last modified: Monday, March 5, 2012 9:18am]


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