seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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U2 & New Voices of Freedom at Madison Square Garden

Irish rock band U2 is joined by the New Voices of Freedom choir onstage at Madison Square Garden in New York City for a performance of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” on September 28, 1987.

Dennis Bell, director of New York gospel choir The New Voices of Freedom, records a demo of a gospel version of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” While in Glasgow, Scotland in late July during U2’s Joshua Tree Tour, Rob Partridge of Island Records plays the demo for the band. In late September, U2 rehearses with Bell’s choir in a Harlem church, and a few days later they perform the song together at U2’s Madison Square Garden concert.

Footage of the rehearsal is featured in the rockumentary Rattle and Hum, while the Madison Square Garden performance appears on the Rattle and Hum album, the band’s sixth studio album. After the church rehearsal, U2 walks around the Harlem neighbourhood where they come across blues duo Satan and Adam playing on the street. A 40-second clip of them playing their composition “Freedom for My People” appears on both the movie and the album.


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U2 Album “The Joshua Tree” is Released

the-joshua-treeThe Joshua Tree, the fifth studio album by Irish rock band U2, is released on March 9, 1987. The album is produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno on Island Records. Formed in 1976, the band consists of Bono (vocals and rhythm guitar), The Edge (lead guitar, keyboards, and vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen, Jr. (drums and percussion).

In contrast to the ambient experimentation of their 1984 release The Unforgettable Fire, the band aims for a harder-hitting sound within the limitation of conventional song structures on The Joshua Tree. The album is influenced by American and Irish roots music, and depicts the band’s love–hate relationship with the United States, using socially and politically conscious lyrics embellished with spiritual imagery.

Inspired by American tour experiences, literature, and politics, U2 chooses America as a theme for the album. Recording begins in Ireland in January 1986. Several events during the recording sessions help shape the conscious tone of the album, including the band’s participation in A Conspiracy of Hope tour, the death of roadie Greg Carroll, and lead vocalist Bono’s travels to Central America. Recording is completed in November 1986 and additional production continues into January 1987. Throughout the sessions, U2 seeks a “cinematic” quality for the record, one that will evoke a sense of location, in particular, the open spaces of America. They represent this in the sleeve photography depicting them in American desert landscapes.

The Joshua Tree receives critical acclaim, topping the charts in over 20 countries, and selling in record-breaking numbers. According to Rolling Stone, the album increases the band’s stature “from heroes to superstars.” It produces the hit singles With or Without You, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, and Where the Streets Have No Name. The album wins Grammy Awards for Album of the Year and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1988. The group supports the record with the Joshua Tree Tour throughout 1987.

Frequently featured on critics’ lists of music’s greatest records, The Joshua Tree is one of the world’s best-selling albums, with over 25 million copies sold. U2 releases a remastered edition of the record in 2007 to commemorate its 20th anniversary. In 2014, it is deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the U.S. Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry.