The Joshua Tree 30th Anniversary Countdown: The Ones That Got Away!

Day 5 of our countdown to the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree, where we bring you some key tracks that didn't make it onto the final cut of the album.

The days edge ever-closer to March 9 – the date when The Joshua Tree was launched, all of 30 years ago, in 1987. It was the album that fired U2 into the stratosphere, reaching No.1 all over the world and going on to sell 25 million copies.

To mark this occasion, Hot Press have been selecting, for your delectation, seven of the less familiar tracks from the recording sessions that generated The Joshua Tree – one every day from now till March 9th. Some of our choices were never intended for a U2 record. Others might arguably have made the album even stronger. And more again just didn’t fit the flow, in an era when artists were far more limited by a requirement to come in at or under the 40 minutes you could fit comfortably onto a vinyl record.

There are any of a dozen reasons why decisions can be made to include or exclude tracks. But what we can say is that herein is an even greater abundance of U2 gold. Here's our second installment, with your guide: Valentina Magli.

5) Race Against Time

'Race Against Time' is one of those tracks that are not easily definable. The Edge himself confessed he was experimenting with Afro sounds in the studio, but soon realised that the flavour was clashing with the theme of the Joshua Tree album, and abandoned the idea. Somehow, I hear a bit of the Virgin Prunes in there, though I am not quite sure why!

Either way, 'Race Against Time’ is a sonically fascinating mix. Released on the bonus disc from the remastered version of The Joshua Tree, it remains essentially an instrumental track, but with haunting voices that create an otherworldly quality, like a deep keening. Atmospheric and unmistakably urgent, it seems to me like an early forerunner of the sounds U2 would develop gravitate towards in the 90s. It has a groove, and a feeling of restlessness, that would be reworked four years later during Achtung Baby, when U2 abandoned America to re-explore Europe with a different set of eyes.

 

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