In Profile: U2 (1987)

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U2 began the year recording songs that would eventually become B sides for forthcoming promotional singles for “The Joshua Tree” album. Four songs, “Walk To The Water”, “Luminous Times (Hold On To Love)”, “Spanish Eyes” and “Birdland” were completed. The latter was deemed too strong to be released as a B side and would be held over for the future.

During February two videos are filmed to promote the songs “Red Hill Mining Town” (which wasn’t released as a single) and “With Or Without You”.

On March 8th the band perform live for the U.K. music show “Old Grey Whistle Test”

March 9th sees the worldwide release of the long awaited long player “The Joshua Tree”. It reaches number one in 22 countries and is the fastest selling album (300,000 in the first week) in British music history.

U2 – The Joshua Tree (9/10)
Produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno
Label – Island

Here’s The Hackskeptic’s review of “The Joshua Tree”

On March 16th the band appear on RTE’s Late Late Show paying tribute to Irish folk band The Dubliners. They perform “Springhill Mining Disaster”.

March 16th also sees the release of “With Or Without You”, the band’s first U.S. number 1 single.

U2 – With Or Without You Single
Recorded at Danesmoate House, and Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin
Producers: Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno and U2
Label – Island

Side 1 – With Or Without You (10)
Side 2 – Luminous Times (Hold On To Love) (6) / Walk To The Water

On March 26th the band participate in a photo shoot with Anton Corbijn on top of The Million Dollar Hotel in Los Angeles. The following day, a video crew record a live rendition of “Where The Streets Have No Name” atop the Republic Liquor Store at 7th and Main in downtown L.A. The clip would eventually be used as a promotional video for the single.

On April 2nd the band start a 29 date American tour that starts in Tempe AZ and ends in East Rutherford NJ on May 16th. Lone Justice play support.

Following a concert on April 12th in Las Vegas, the band walk around the streets and a film crew record a promo video for the single “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”.

On April 27th the band appear on the front cover of Time Magazine.

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May 25th sees the second single release from “The Joshua Tree”. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” would become their second consecutive Billboard number one.

U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For Single
Recorded at Danesmoate House, and Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin
Producers: Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno and U2
Label – Island

Side A – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (10)
Side B – Spanish Eyes (6) / Deep In The Heart (5)

Hot off the heels of their North American leg of the tour the band start a 30 date European tour on May 27th. Starting in Rome they will be on the road until August 8th Dublin concert. During this period the band have several meetings with Phil Joanou who will eventually get the green light to direct a movie initially titled “U2 In The Americas”.

A third single from The Joshua Tree, “Where The Streets Have No Name” is released on August 31st.

U2 – Where The Streets Have No Name Single
Recorded at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin
Producers: Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno and U2
Label – Island

Side A – Where The Streets Have No Name (10)
Side B – Race Against Time (5)/ Silver And Gold (7)/ Sweetest Thing (8)

During August the band find out that Island Records is in financial difficulties and cannot pay them $5 million in The Joshua Tree” royalties. They reinvest the unpaid amount into the company in return for an estimated 10% stake.

The third and most exhaustive leg of “The Joshua Tree” tour is the 50+ date North American leg, which starts on September 10th at Uniondale New York, and finishes in Tempe AZ on December 20th.

September 11th sees “With Or Without You” win the MTV viewers choice award for best video.

On September 26th the band rehearse “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” with the New Voices of Freedom in a Harlem church, footage of which later appears in the movie “Rattle And Hum”.

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October 12th sees the release of a charity album put together by producer Jimmy Iovine titled “A Very Special Christmas”. The record features U2 performing “Christmas, (Baby, Please Come Home”), with backing vocals from original performer Darlene Love. The inspiration for the project is to provide funding for the Special Olympics.

“In God’s Country” is released as a single in the U.S. and Canada. It reaches number 44 and 25 respectively.

U2 – In God’s Country Single
Recorded at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin
Producers: Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno and U2
Label – Island

Side A – In God’s Country (8)
Side B – Bullet The Blue Sky (7)/ Running To Stand Still (8)

November 1st sees the band play as a support act for themselves. The Dalton Brothers, a four piece “Country” and “Western” act with awful cod American accents play “Lucille” and “Lost Highway”. Nobody is fooled, although the brothers would appear again at the November 18th Los Angeles show.

The November 7th show in Denver is filmed for the “Rattle And Hum” movie.

November 29th sees the band visit Graceland.

The final show of the year (December 20th) sees more filming for “Rattle And Hum” at Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe AZ.

In Profile: U2 (1976 – 1979)

In Profile: U2 (1980)

In Profile: U2 (1981)

In Profile: U2 (1982)

In Profile: U2 (1982)

In Profile: U2 (1983)

In Profile: U2 (1984)

In Profile: U2 (1985)

In Profile: U2 (1986)

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8 responses to “In Profile: U2 (1987)

  1. Familiarity has not bred contempt for me on this one. I don’t break it out that often, but it’s a solid listen when I do. I’m also increasingly surprised by how much Anton Corbijn has figured in the visual scrapbook of my musical journey.

    • For sure, he artistically guided a lot of bands during the 80s. British bands from the early part of the decade fully embraced MTV and the need to visually market their music. If not for some inspiring photographers and video directors, would we have ever seen the “second British” invasion?

  2. A thorough look at the release of Joshua Tree there! I know I’ve said this here before, but I think was the height of the band. A perfect balance of creativity, relevance and urgency right here.

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