- 06 Mar 17
A graphic artist and a musician in his own right, Dublin born Steve Averill has designed every album cover for U2, from Boy to Songs of Innocence. Here, Steve recollects how the seminal cover of The Joshua Tree was created – and emphasises the fresh relevance of the album today.
It was always going to be difficult to find a cover that would bring together the many diffuse strands of The Joshua Tree succinctly. Lyrically, the record was overflowing with powerful imagery. There were political and religious elements in the thematic mix. And musically, it was different to anything U2 had done before, with a far deeper connection to the blues, gospel, soul and folk music.
Not only that: the quality of the songs ensured that contemporary concerns in 1987 met abiding universal themes, in a way that resonated hugely. It was music that was both intimate and epic in its scope. Try putting that in a wrapper!
The images that eventually donned the front and back covers of U2’s fifth album did, indeed, match the weight of the music contained within. The cover of The Joshua Tree went on to become one of the most iconic in rock history, inspiring U2 fans from across the world to make pilgrimages to the location in Death Valley.