U2 – The Joshua Tree 20th Anniversary

I’m sure that reissues like this are all part of an evil conspiracy. No, not the “persuade people to buy a new version of something they already have” conspiracy – that’s just a normal part of the music business. No, this is the much nastier “make Les feel really old” conspiracy. Can The Joshua Tree really be twenty years old? Well, apparently it can. I guess I knew that, but it still seems a bit strange.

For the five people on the planet who don’t know, The Joshua Tree was the album which transformed U2 from an increasingly popular cult act into one of the biggest bands ever. That U2 were going to be big was hinted at by their performance at Live Aid a couple of years earlier, but it was the wide, spacious, passionate, and, quite frankly glorious songs on their 1987 album that made everyone notice the Irish band. Those of us who’d been into them for years did wonder what took everyone else so long, but hey, that’s normal…

Anyway, twenty years on, the album has been remastered. If memory serves, and it may not, this will be the second remastering – the first CD release was not quite as good as it might have been, and an improved version was produced. Or I might have imagined that. Possibly.

And just to keep everyone happy, the new version is available in a bewildering range of editions. There’s the standard single CD, which will be great for the five people who don’t already have the album in some form or other, and which is quite reasonably priced. Then there’s a double CD which includes a disk full of B-sides, rare tracks and at least one previously unreleased song. That one comes with extended notes by various people, and looks pretty good. It’s also available on high quality vinyl for people who like turntables.

But the version I went for is the really nice double CD with DVD edition. This comes in packaging that looks seriously expensive – a nicely produced DVD size box with a lid. Lifting the lid revelas not the DVD case you might have expected, but a hardback book containing articles by various people involved with the album – Bono, The Edge and Adam Clayton of the band (Larry Mullen Jr tends not to say much, so his absence is not surprising), Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, who produced the album, and others. Along with the moderately interesting articles are the lyrics, some in Bono’s handwriting, and lots of Anton Corbijn’s iconic photographs of U2, which were such a major part of the wonderful look of the original album.

Underneath the book, there’s a wallet containing quality prints of five more Anton Corbijn’s photographs, which are worthy of being framed and displayed.

And underneath that are three cardboard gatefold sleeves containing the discs. The designs all match the original album sleeve, but each has a different selection of Corbijn photographs.

The DVD contains a 1987 concert recorded in Paris, a 1987 documentary and a promo videos for With or Without You and Red Hill Mining Town.

The box is a lovely package, which I’m sure any U2 fan would love to have. I certainly couldn’t resist it.