Author Topic: Is the Joshua Tree really a Masterpiece?  (Read 3108 times)

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Offline boom boom

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Is the Joshua Tree really a Masterpiece?
« on: March 08, 2017, 03:47:39 AM »
According to this article in the observer: You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login

The writer questions is the JT really a masterpiece of just half a masterpiece.
To paraphrase this article he suggests that side 2 is just U2 coasting and dialing it in and very underwhelming with the best track being Mothers of the Disappeared on side 2.
While my first reaction to the article is what the hell is this guy on, not that I agree with him but I can see his point of view.
While most of us on this forum (or at least me) are going to JT30 to finally hear side 2 the writer says that most only recognize the first 6 songs and don't care about the rest.
Now originally when the album came out, I thought the whole album was great and not just side 1 and loved hearing the side 2 songs live at least the ones that were played.
I guess now because I have been listening to U2 so long and seen them so many times live that they have continuously played side 1 songs live to death that I am actually sick of them and mainly going for this tour specifically to hear the side 2 songs.
But to play devils advocate the average fan most likely will be going to hear side 1 and not side 2 as most will probably tune out or go to beer stands or bathroom break at this stage. I will take the opportunity to hit the beer stands during side 1, as I heard these songs so many times.
Also again to play devils advocate, if U2 thought side 2 was soo great, why the absence of these songs for so long, really since the original JT tour in '87.
What are your thoughts?
« Last Edit: March 08, 2017, 03:50:25 AM by boom boom »



Offline Blueyedboy

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Re: Is the Joshua Tree really a Masterpiece?
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2017, 03:57:23 AM »
The problem with the article is that it tries to break the album down into songs rather than taking the album as an entity.
The Joshua Tree paints scenery in its sonics and can only be appreciated if you see the whole picture. Trip through your wires is as important as Streets in achieving this goal. The only alteration I would make to this album would be to add Heartland somewhere in the second half.

Offline briscoetheque

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Re: Is the Joshua Tree really a Masterpiece?
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2017, 04:15:56 AM »
It's not in my top 5 U2 albums to be honest but I do agree on the brilliance of it capturing a place and soundscape. I listened to the whole thing growing up in Australia on a cassette deck. In 2009 I listened to it driving through death valley. It was better than I remembered it...

Offline riffraff

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Re: Is the Joshua Tree really a Masterpiece?
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2017, 04:24:58 AM »
The entire album is a masterpiece. Both sides. Each and every song...well, except Mothers...I appreciate the idea behind it, but just never really liked the song itself.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2017, 05:24:13 AM by riffraff »

Offline eddyjedi

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Re: Is the Joshua Tree really a Masterpiece?
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2017, 06:42:54 AM »
Stupid article.
U2 phoning it in on side two is a ridiculous assessment.
Kudos to the patti smith reference, Exit is very similar.
It's a great great album, incredibly cohesive.

Offline lucas.homem

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Re: Is the Joshua Tree really a Masterpiece?
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2017, 06:54:47 AM »
To be fair, I was thought it was weird that people don't say of TJT the same people always say about ATYCLB.

However, I do think the second half of TJT is gorgeous, with the exception of Red Hill.

They expand a lot the atmosphere of the album in those last songs, keeping the main concept, but making it deeper. For me, IGC and OTH are the most important tracks for the (concept of the) album as a whole, because they are the soul of that journay. TTYW is like a stop in that journay, when you rent a hotel room and enjoy that countryside town before keep going. At last, Exit is the personal ending of your journay, when you... die. MOTD is the grief after death.

I don't know if the lyrics agree with my interpretation, but that is my feelings while listening to the album.

Online aviastar

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Re: Is the Joshua Tree really a Masterpiece?
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2017, 07:16:15 AM »
I agree with him that TUF is the better album of the two.  But that doesn't make TJT any less great.

I disagree with him on several points.  First, he makes a case that many of TJT songs are just rip-offs - I think you could probably do that with any great rock album.  There are only so many chord combinations in western music, and rock music is particularly limited to forms (nobody is going to make a rock album with Coltrane Giant Steps changes).  There's only so many places you can go - it's in the formulation and nuances that rock songs shine.  Second, he cherrypicks the one real weakness of Side 2 (Trip Through Your Wires) - where they are clearly coasting through (the song is decent, but nothing to rave about) - and makes the case that it's emblematic of the whole side.  No mention of One Tree Hill, which I think is a fantastic track.  He discounts Exit pretty quickly, but it's as moody and thematic as anything on TUF.  Red Hill Mining Town may have been ruined by the cheesy video, because on the whole the song is pretty darned good IMO.

The editorial just reads like an overblown sports "hawt take", but instead for music.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2017, 07:18:15 AM by aviastar »

Offline an tha

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Re: Is the Joshua Tree really a Masterpiece?
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2017, 07:32:30 AM »
Have long maintained it is the most overrated album in u2's cannon and one of the most overrated albums of all time by anybody.

I can appreciate that a lot of people disagree with my view on it and I can see the records attraction - but as I say for me it is massively overrated.

I don't personally own a copy of it and I don't consider that fact as meaning I am missing out.

The only song on it I would call a masterpiece is Mothers - yet again u2 at their best for me when being understated....RTSS would be up there as well if the album version was in same vein as the zoo tour version - Exit is OK as well.

Of course on this upcoming tour in enormodomes it will be the obvious hits that receive the most rapturous receptions from Joe Public and songs like those mentioned above will largely receive muted receptions/see exoduses to the bars.

« Last Edit: March 08, 2017, 07:41:05 AM by an tha »

Offline U2_One

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Re: Is the Joshua Tree really a Masterpiece?
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2017, 09:09:37 AM »
You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
According to this article in the observer: You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login

The writer questions is the JT really a masterpiece of just half a masterpiece.
To paraphrase this article he suggests that side 2 is just U2 coasting and dialing it in and very underwhelming with the best track being Mothers of the Disappeared on side 2.
While my first reaction to the article is what the hell is this guy on, not that I agree with him but I can see his point of view.
While most of us on this forum (or at least me) are going to JT30 to finally hear side 2 the writer says that most only recognize the first 6 songs and don't care about the rest.
Now originally when the album came out, I thought the whole album was great and not just side 1 and loved hearing the side 2 songs live at least the ones that were played.
I guess now because I have been listening to U2 so long and seen them so many times live that they have continuously played side 1 songs live to death that I am actually sick of them and mainly going for this tour specifically to hear the side 2 songs.
But to play devils advocate the average fan most likely will be going to hear side 1 and not side 2 as most will probably tune out or go to beer stands or bathroom break at this stage. I will take the opportunity to hit the beer stands during side 1, as I heard these songs so many times.
Also again to play devils advocate, if U2 thought side 2 was soo great, why the absence of these songs for so long, really since the original JT tour in '87.
What are your thoughts?

Good post. In the context of TJT 2017 tour, I think it might work well for those who don't follow setlists as they'll be guaranteed to hear the songs that made the album a big seller. It also might work well for some because within the last six songs on the album, there's one that's never been played at all, and others that either haven't been a staple since the original tour, or at any point.

Can't ever really appeal to everyone with everything, but I think the appeal of this tour should be fairly wide ranging.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2017, 11:45:30 AM by U2_One »

Offline Smee

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Re: Is the Joshua Tree really a Masterpiece?
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2017, 09:42:44 AM »
Simply Put, The Joshua Tree album is as good an album as any ever put out. It is right up there with all the classics

Offline Canadanne

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Re: Is the Joshua Tree really a Masterpiece?
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2017, 09:50:13 AM »
It was hearing the strength of the non-singles (especially RHMT) that persuaded me to buy TJT in the first place, instead of just sticking with the Best Of. That decision in turn led to me buying all their other albums and becoming the mega-fan I am now. So I definitely disagree that side 2 is "underwhelming" - in fact I listen to it far more often than side 1! (The only track I find somewhat weaker is Mothers Of The Disappeared, so I'm even more puzzled that he considers that to be the sole highlight.)

Obviously a lot of people at the shows will only be familiar with the singles/warhorses, but that says nothing about the quality of the other tracks.

To answer the question in the subject line, I don't really see TJT as a "masterpiece" - it's a middle-ranking album for me - but it's still pretty great!

Offline acrobat62

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Re: Is the Joshua Tree really a Masterpiece?
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2017, 09:59:19 AM »
Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition
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    1    :  a work done with extraordinary skill; especially :  a supreme intellectual or artistic achievement


It qualifies!  ;)

Offline Spacejunk69

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Re: Is the Joshua Tree really a Masterpiece?
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2017, 11:30:56 AM »
No, its not. A great album yes, but very overrated. I like Exit, Trip Through Your Wires, Running To Standstill and Mothers Of The Disappeared - that's it.

Offline The Exile

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Re: Is the Joshua Tree really a Masterpiece?
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2017, 12:16:37 PM »
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Stupid article.
U2 phoning it in on side two is a ridiculous assessment.
Kudos to the patti smith reference, Exit is very similar.
It's a great great album, incredibly cohesive.

It's a masterpiece, whether we personally enjoy it or not. It just is.

Offline il_capo

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Re: Is the Joshua Tree really a Masterpiece?
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2017, 01:44:15 PM »
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Stupid article.
U2 phoning it in on side two is a ridiculous assessment.
Kudos to the patti smith reference, Exit is very similar.
It's a great great album, incredibly cohesive.

It's a masterpiece, whether we personally enjoy it or not. It just is.

I agree with this.  It may not be our favourite U2 album but it is perfectly executed, a musically and lyrically rich and dense record, with so much high quality material on it (compare it to Zooropa, which is a critically-acclaimed album but feels a bit sparse when compared to the weight of material on AB, TJT, or Pop). 

The writer of the piece dismisses side 2 as derivative of other artists, but pretty much anything can be defined as derivative if you want to look at things genealogically, and this writer seems obsessed with demonstrating his rich knowledge of rock music by listing antecedents.  Anyone else listened to With or Without You and thought of Talking Heads’ Once in a Lifetime?

As for side 2, the writer fails to mention One Tree Hill, and whilst I agree with him that In God’s Country is not the most original song and Trip Through Your Wires is weak, it’s overall a dark, powerful and political set of songs, not the treading-water exercise the writer suggests.  When the album came out vinyl was still the predominant format in Europe at least, and if U2 wanted some more “big tunes” on side 2 they’d have sequenced the album differently.  That they did not tells me that side 2 is precisely what they wanted it to be.