204 of 207 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic album gets the royal treatment
Nearly 21 years after the original release of The Joshua Tree, the CD version of the album has finally gotten its due. In what must be considered an embarrassment of packaging riches, this new "Super Deluxe" 20th Anniversary Edition of the album more than does justice to the original album art (poorly served on previous CD releases), and the music has been given a...
Published on November 20, 2007 by Giacomo Holdini
45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "Remasterd"?...I don't get it
This review only addresses the remastered release and not the content of the album.
The original CD of this album was not the best example of mastering analog to digital in the earlier days of CDs. With that in mind, this "remaster" is even worse. I don't agrree with the assessment that the engineering of the original recordings is to blame because I have an...
Published on February 4, 2008 by MC
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204 of 207 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic album gets the royal treatment,
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This review is from: Joshua Tree (Remastered / Expanded) (Super Deluxe Edition) (2CD/DVD) (Audio CD)Nearly 21 years after the original release of The Joshua Tree, the CD version of the album has finally gotten its due. In what must be considered an embarrassment of packaging riches, this new "Super Deluxe" 20th Anniversary Edition of the album more than does justice to the original album art (poorly served on previous CD releases), and the music has been given a spanking new mastering, supervised by none other than The Edge. The "Super Deluxe" edition comes in a sturdy, 6" x 8" x 1.5" box with fully restored cover art. Inside is a 56 page hardcover book containing liner notes, lyrics, pictures, single-sleeve art, technical information, and a number of essays, including ones by Bono, Daniel Lanois, Adam Clayton, Anton Corbijn, Brian Eno, and The Edge. An embossed envelope contains five more Corbijn photos, printed on 5" x 7" sheets of textured, "antique" paper. The three discs all come in their own mini-LP gatefold sleeves: the album disc is in a quasi replica of the original LP sleeve, whereas the bonus CD and DVD are in similar sleeves featuring alternate photos. No detail has been overlooked - even the CD labels are patterned after the spindle label on the original LP. This is a truly "super deluxe" package.
But what about the sound? While the original 1987 mastering was never great, much of what has been lambasted over the years as murky sound is really intrinsic to the original recording and/or mix. It is important to note that this is a remastered version of the original mix, not a remixed version of the original session tapes. Thus, the overall qualities of the original mix remain, such as dense atmospherics and an ambient soundscape. However, this version improves matters. There is a substantial increase in volume, but generally not to the point of clipping. A visual analysis of the waveforms reveals only a handful of clipped peaks throughout the album. Comparison between this release and the mastering on Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab's Gold Ultradisc II release (out of print) reveals very little difference between the two, which indicates to me the engineers on this remaster used discretion with their techniques, and did not go overboard. Overall, instrumental textures are fuller, and bass response is improved. Also, the continual tape hiss that was present even in between tracks on the original CD has been removed. (Some hiss intrinsic to the original analog tapes remains, but is reduced from the original mastering.) Generally speaking, all but the most critical and particular listeners can feel confident they are getting the best sounding version of this album yet released with this new mastering.
The 14-track bonus audio disc contains a number of b-sides and unused tracks from the period that have previously been available elsewhere, but have never been collected in one place before. Six of the fourteen tracks were either previously unreleased or were very rare prior to this release. The songs range from excellent to barely worthy of release ("Drunk Chicken"), but are all worth having if you are any sort of completist. For those who have always imagined that The Joshua Tree was the best double album never made (an erroneous notion, as Edge makes clear in his essay), the bonus disc provides them the perfect opportunity to construct their own version of the fabled opus.
The concert presented on the DVD goes a good distance toward filling a gap that has existed in the U2 catalog for the last two decades - namely the absence of a full-length concert video from The Joshua Tree Tour. This video (the liner notes say it was filmed, but industrial-size video cameras are clearly visible onstage) features the entire concert U2 performed in the Paris Hippodrome on July 4, 1987, minus three cover songs (the concert openers "Stand By Me" and "C'Mon Everybody," and a rendition of "Help!" that they played between "Electric Co." and "Bad"). The band is in top form, playing a classic lineup of their songs, many of which have not been heard on later tours. Notably, they did not perform "Where the Streets Have No Name" at this concert, an omission that occurred a number of times on the European leg of the tour. The video direction is refreshingly plain, avoiding the overly moody lighting Phil Joanou employed in Rattle and Hum (the Paris footage was directed by Gavin Taylor), and without the short-attention-span jump cuts of the band's recent concert videos. The sound is an excellent LPCM stereo mix - not surround, it's true, but every bit as good as you would expect from a live album on CD. The sound is actually better than either the live tracks on the Rattle and Hum CD, or the fan club only release of the 1989/1990 New Year's concert at the Point Depot.
The documentary, "Outside it's America," basically plays like Rattle and Hum's little brother, only in color and not as well shot - and, frankly, not as interesting. On the other hand, it does not have the myth-making posturing that so marred Rattle and Hum. Both this documentary and the concert video show a more human, down-to-earth, less "god like" side of the band. Still, the documentary has a lot of footage that will likely be of interest to die-hard fans only. (It is worth noting that the documentary was directed by Barry Devlin and Meiert Avis, not Phil Joanou, and therefore is not an assemblage of rejected Rattle and Hum footage, as has been speculated elsewhere.) The two music videos are fair makeweights, but are hardly essential. The selling point of the DVD is without question the concert video, which many fans will find invaluable, making this set an easy choice over the two-disc Deluxe edition.
On the whole, this is an outstanding issue that more than makes good on its promises. Thoroughly recommended.
138 of 159 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ascetic, Prophetic and Disarmingly Sincere,
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This review is from: The Joshua Tree (Audio CD)There is within music an ability to tap into the raw, revelatory power of beauty; music can give itself to the unknown whisper of the eternal in ways that other forms of art only hint at. The collage of sounds communicates something deep to the heart and, when combined with the presence of the voice, can be downright liberating. Few individuals, let alone bands, ever really reach a point where they are that open to the Unknown that it can give itself so freely through their music. U2 has done so time and again, but never with the level of directness and sincerity as they accomplished on the Joshua Tree.
A joshua tree is a real tree that thrives despite the dry environment it lives in. The image - the icon - of life amidst its seeming absence, embodied in the joshua tree, is one that is fully appropriate to U2 - particularly at the end of their first decade. U2, like the joshua tree, stood in stark contrast to its environment: ascetic, prophetic and disarmingly (some would say "naively", but let the tension stand) sincere. (Their foray into the realm of post-modern sampling, irony and sarcasm was an identity crisis fully in line with where they stood in the 80s: cynicism is frustrated optimism.)
"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", the second song, really expresses the kernel of The Joshua Tree; every other song fleshes it out in some way or another. The album is, in the end, about distance: "I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls only to be with you: But I still haven't found what I'm looking for." While one may take this to be an admission of defeat - and distance whispers of despair as much as consummation - doing so is incorrect: "I'm still running," Bono sings. The song is an expression of hope more than anything.
Faith is a raw and disarmingly rough beauty; it looks within and it looks without. "Bullet the Blue Sky" and "Mothers of the Disappeared" give full expression to U2's long-time political engagement, while "With or Without You" gives a glimpse into U2's more tender side. "With or Without You" may very well be the best love song of the 80s. "One Tree Hill", a deeply personal song about the death of a friend, moves with passion and rugged grace - and, again, with hope: "I'll see you again when the stars fall from the sky and the moon has turned red over one tree hill."
I look forward to the day when my children ask me, "Dad, did you ever listen to U2?" Not only will I have stories to tell about live concerts, but I will be able to relive with them the goosebumps that certain songs will inevitably bring. If rock is dead, U2 was its apex. And U2 has yet to be eclipsed.
49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of The Best,
The opening suite is about as good as it gets in music: Where the Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, and With or Without You. All of these are more than just great rock hits: they're part of the fabric of our time. Outside of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band, I can't think of a more amazing beginning to an album. The instant those echoed notes of Where the Streets Have No Name start to fade in, you know - whether it's the first time you've heard it or the thousandth - that you're in for a transcendent musical experience. There aren't many songs or albums that deserve this kind of excessive praise (Sgt. Pepper, Blood on the Tracks, Automatic for the People, Exile on Main St., Songs in the Key of Life, to name a few) and this is one of them.
Not only are the opening tracks incredible, and well-known to all, but the album continues with series of songs both hard-hitting, stunningly beautiful, totally heart-felt, and wonderfully pure, sometimes all at once. The production by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno is textured, nuanced, and completely appropriate for every song. This new, remastered version only enhances the production.
The second disc gives an even fuller picture of the band's sound from this peak era, expanding what was hinted at on the b-sides disc of their 1980-1990 greatest hits collection.
This edition exists for those who are unable or unwilling to shell out the money they're asking for the super-deluxe edition, which includes a concert dvd. For some of the more visually-oriented fans, that's definitely the edition to get. Others, who tend to watch a concert dvd only once or twice, but listen to cds (or ripped music on their computer or mp3 player) may find this the better deal. I, for one, think it's fantastic that the option exists. Rather than force people who want the second disc of Joshua Tree-era songs to pay a rather high price for the full cd/dvd package, fans can opt to buy only the remastered album and second disc.
The bottom line for me is that this is one of the greatest albums of all time, and this new edition has found a way to improve its presentation. With any luck, this deluxe edition will become the new standard for how artists release anniversary editions of their classic albums.
51 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Classic Album of a Generation,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Joshua Tree (Audio CD)This is the only album I ever owned in which I wore out the vinyl copy AND the cassette and so had to get it on CD. I was always a U2 fan going back to "War" and "The Unforgettable Fire", but I know that a lot of people see this as their watershed album which, of course, it was. However, I also think the more recent U2 albums have been unfairly compared to this one, which if you think about it is silly since we should appreciate bands that don't stick with a successful formula just because it works and this album is as much of a departure from U2's early work as "Pop" is from this one. All that aside, this is why you should own this CD:
1) The production of Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno - listen to "Where The Streets Have No Name" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" with headphones and you'll hear what sonic layering can be in the hands of masters. 2) An uncanny match of lyrics and music - in the liner notes it says that "One Tree Hill" was written upon a friend's death. I would like to think that if I were ever in a similar situation I could come up with something that would evoke half the emotion that song does. 3) No bad spots - when was the last time you bought an album that was completely listenable all the way through?
I do think it's a shame that U2 has not been able to recapture the overall karma of this album in their subsequent years (not that they haven't tried) but I think the biggest testament to this album is that I have bought it for friends and relatives ranging in age from 45 to 17 and they all love it. That's one awesome album.
45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "Remasterd"?...I don't get it,
The original CD of this album was not the best example of mastering analog to digital in the earlier days of CDs. With that in mind, this "remaster" is even worse. I don't agrree with the assessment that the engineering of the original recordings is to blame because I have an original vinyl of the album and it is far better than ANY digital incarnation. Sure CD tech has come a long way in 25+ years and most new albums and remasters sound far better than they ever used to, but what the heck happened here? The instrumentation may be slightly more articulate in some tonal ranges (particularly the Edge's multiple guitar parts and overdubs) but that is about the only improvement over previous incarnations. The vocals and the percussion are completely flat, two dimensional and lifeless far more so than previous CDs rendering this remaster almost unlistenable. I had to check my equipment to make sure something had not gone wrong because it sounded so poor. Perhaps this remaster was intended to be carved up into mp3 or worse but I feel totally deceived by this release and very disapointed.
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars everything great about U2,
This review is from: The Joshua Tree (Audio CD)Having just listened to this CD for the bizillionth time last night, I am once against struck by the enduring beauty and meaning of the songs on "The Joshua Tree." This is, without a doubt, one of the best and most important pop recordings to come out of the 80's.
Perhaps more than any of their other albums, "The Joshua Tree" captures the great themes of U2's music. Politically forward, spiritually searching and earthily honest--these eleven songs all still speak as loudly today as they did in 1987.
The first three songs (Where the Streets Have No Name; I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For; With or Without You) are deservedly the most famous. Yet all of the songs are worthy in their own way of recognition.
It has always mystified me why "Running to Stand Still" is not more widely played. It is the lyrical gem of the CD. Likewise, I always thought "In God's Country" deserved and could easily find a larger audience.
U2 got to work with a dream team in Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, and Steve Lillywhite. It shows in the absolutely great yet transparent sound of this recording.
I can honestly say that I wholeheartedly recommend this album. Get it today.
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Enduring Classic,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Joshua Tree (Audio CD)U2 is a band for the ages and "The Joshua Tree" stands as their most brilliant accomplishment. I don't think I've ever heard an album that combines uniqueness of sound, lyrical mastery, overall quality, and pure soul as "The Joshua Tree" does. The first four songs make the album commercially viable, but what I was surprised to find was just how good the songs were that followed. Every song that on the album is distinct and memorable. The subject of the songs range from the struggles of a heroin addict, the loss of a close friend, and even the promise of America to those who yearn for freedom.
The highlights of the album are obviously "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and the absolutely beautiful "With or Without You," two songs that I still hear very frequently on the radio today. But with songs like "Red Hill Mining Town," "In God's Country," and "One Tree Hill," among others you'll find that it's very hard to keep this album out of your CD player.
U2 is undeniably an incredible band. They are lead musically by one of the most innovative and unique guitarists of all time, The Edge. His sound is backed by an equally unique rhythm section of Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr. And, in front of all that is Bono, a frontman who combines passion, lyrics, intelligence, and beauty of his voice more so than anyone I've ever heard. What more can I say, U2 is my favorite band and "The Joshua Tree" is their finest album. And, unless you're one of the people who dismiss the album because it was successful commercially, you'll probably find yourself admiring this album and this band as I do.
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb remastering of a U2's masterpiece,
This review is from: Joshua Tree (Audio CD)That this album is brilliance of the highest level goes without saying, and if you want to know about the album itself, go read about the 400+ reviews for the original CD printing. I'm not here to talk about that today - I'm here to review the remastering job, and for that this album gets five stars. The whole album is cleaner and with less noise. Specifically, compared to the original printing:
1. Adam's bass is deeper and absolutely huge,
2. Bono's vocals are more pure and realistic sounding and sit better in the mix, and vocal harmonies are cleaner and better balanced
3. Larry's drums are more natural sounding and also bigger and cleaner-sounding with less "fuzz" around the hits,
4. The Edge's guitar textures sound even better, cleaner, more layered and complexities are more easily heard, and
5. the overall mix is much better balanced, with every instrument heard better.
The best examples of this are in the first 2:15 or so of "With or Without You." I listened to this track most closely for specifics at first, because I feel it is one of the best technically recorded tracks on the album (and of all time...). I formed these conclusions based on that track's listening, then I listened to each track alternating the "original" and "2007" CD's, which confirmed all of the statements above. On "With or Without You," listen to these specific elements for their depth, clarity, balance, and natural timbre:
0:00 noise floor, toms
0:05 hat/tambourine hits
0:10 bass (this continues big and beautiful throughout)
0:17 lead guitar
0:42 lead guitar with echo
0:53 Bono inhales
1:09 tom eighth-note hits
1:26 guitar layers
1:35 "I can't live..."
1:52 lead guitar
2:06 vocal harmonies
And the song's climax at 3:03 is also very distinct, each instrument sounding better and more easily distinguished, the overall mix better balanced.
One of the best remastering jobs I've ever heard (Miles Davis's Kind of Blue is another of my favorites). Bravo to the engineers for presenting this classic, brilliant album in an even more euphonically beautiful package than ever before. Even if you own the original album, buy the new remaster.
Note: Listening done on a Kenwood SE7 mini-component HiFi system with stock 10" bookshelf two-way near-field stereo speakers (came as complete system). Amp is in "pure A" mode, preset EQ called "NB 1," which has slightly enhanced bass and treble ('smile pattern').
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply a sublime, classic album,
This review is from: The Joshua Tree (Audio CD)It's the sign of a truly special album when the non-hit songs best the popular songs that were released to radio. If you've only heard the first three radio tunes on "The Joshua Tree," then you've only heard one-third of the album, which means you're missing the best parts. "The Joshua Tree" contains both huge, arena-ready sounds and quieter, more reflective moments, and is even folkishly quaint in some parts. I suppose it's that somber, sober feeling to this CD -- a sense of searching innocence from U2 -- that makes it such a worthwhile gem.
Lyrically, Bono has said that the "Joshua Tree" is incomplete, making it hard for him to listen to at times. That's hard for me to fathom. There's a real sense of personal searching and sadness that overlays much of this album, which doesn't sound unfinished to me. If you want arena-styled anthems, stick with the first half of the record. "Bullet the Blue Sky" is as good as rock music gets, opening with a spine-tingling guitar intro that manages to maintain its foreboding buildup and excitement throughout. This is the type of song that superstar rock stars write, and thankfully it wasn't released as a single and played to death on radio. From there, "The Joshua Tree" changes gears. "Running to Stand Still," a song about the perils of drug use, has soft, tender vocals, quiet piano and is almost a dreamy lullaby compared to the monsters that preceded it.
Looking back, it's surprising how low key U2 kept the second half of this album. The songs are folksy and centered, nearly hymnal in parts, uncorrupted by fame, industry and overly loud guitars. Songs such as the longing "Red Hill Mining Town," the gorgeous "In God's Country," "Trip Through Your Wires" and the chiming guitars in "One Tree Hill" are as moving as music can possibly be. This is not hard rock or pure folk, and it's certainly more meaningful than mere pop music. Simply put, "The Joshua Tree" completely transcends decades: This could be music for the 1980s (it was), 1990s (the band moved on in a big way) or 2010 (we'll see what happens).
The final song, "Mothers of the Disappeared," features Bono's hypnotic voice -- lullabaic and utterly musical. Like its predecessors, "Disappeared" is addictively melodic, with guitar by The Edge in the background, chiming away magnetically. "Exit" is the only tune to rock a bit on the back half of the album. Otherwise, there's nothing fancy or over the top, musically, lyrically or productionwise. It's simply a collection of some of the greatest songs around, with dedicated and genuine words by Bono. Anyone looking to build his or her CD collection with pure classics would do well to include U2's "The Joshua Tree."
46 of 55 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Audiophiles Need Not Apply,
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