"The Joshua tree itself may be a symbol of hope and deliverance, but its twisted shape and the barrenness of its environment suggest the sort of forces that must be confronted before redemption comes". Such an accurate observation, as stated in a 1987 Rolling Stone article about the band, that I read just recently. The album itself, an American folk and blues-influenced record that romanticized America's past, and thumbed its nose at all of America's shortcomings, remains to date perhaps U2's most serious, substantial, and substantive set.
As soon as I saw the design of the outer box of this, I just had to have it, regardless of how much it cost or what was included. For some reason, the textured embossed gold-foiled Joshua tree icon against the black background mesmerized me. And so, I preordered without second thoughts. In the weeks that followed, I realized that the contents of the box were not really worth the asking price. Now that I actually have the box, I can safely say to those who want this to wait until the price drops before buying. U2 appear less generous than they were back in 2007, when they had presented a great 3-disc mini box to celebrate the 20 years since the album's original release. This time around, other than the alternate, coloured cover artwork, which is admittedly cool, the 1987 Madison Square Garden gig featured is incomplete, the remixes rather plain, many of the outtakes were previously released, the 84-page hardback book of never-before-seen photography is beautiful but not essential (who really needs a book with photos of deserts, mountains, and trees?), and the folio of prints seems like an addition to justify an overall ludicrously overpriced super deluxe box set. Of course, the 3,5 hours of audio content on here is much more appealing than the plain 2CD set of this, but nothing new and exciting is presented ie. an extra disc of new bonus material, a DVD, or a 5.1 mix. The box is super elegant inside-out, the disc packaging is neat, all very detailed and nicely assembled. But, as much as I love the album itself, asking fans to pay extra in order to indulge on bonus material, feels like U2 ripping fans off. Especially when the complete audio from the set is available on iTunes for $25. It is a pity that this new anniversary release misses the opportunity to fittingly celebrate such a timeless classic.
***** for the album
*** for this edition