5/9/12

Herc's Mix: The Joshua Tree




As someone who listens to albums in their entirety, HERC has nothing but respect and admiration for artists who put thought, talent and creativity into the process.  But... HERC has been known to make his own versions of certain albums.  We're not talking remastering or eq'ing the original master recordings.  HERC's methods are about something other than sound quality. They are about the listening experience.
  • Sometimes the running order on albums just doesn't sound right to HERC's ears.  So he rearranges the tracks to better suit his tastes.
  • Or sometimes an overindulgent multiple disc album is reduced by HERC to a very strong single disc.
  • Sometimes songs are left off an album but surface as singles or b-sides.  HERC gathers them up and reunites them.
  • Or sometimes a soundtrack album has most but not all of the songs featured in the film.  HERC gets them all.
  • Sometimes an album spins off singles that are remixed or extended for club play.  Sometimes HERC prefers those to the original album cuts.
  • Or a shorter, radio-friendly edit is made of a longer album cut and HERC likes it better.  
  • Or any number of alternate versions of a track exist and HERC feels they make for a better listening experience than the original album version.
HERC's Mixes can be any or all of these... or none of them.  Unhindered by legal restrictions or label politics and blessed with Spotify's library of more than 20,000,000 (and growing) tracks, HERC compiles "more complete" albums.



Today's HERC's Mix is U2's The Joshua Tree and the video directly above is the first single from that album.  (The video at the top of this post was the third single and if you look real hard, you'll spot HERC in the crowd!)

U2 had recorded enough music for a double album release but released an 11 track single disc with the running order reportedly set by Kristy MacColl (wife of the album's remixer/producer Steve Lillywhite) who placed the songs in order of her most favorite to her least favorite.  In the business, we call that "front loading" or "top loading" just like washing machines.

HERC took 1987's The Joshua Tree as released, dropped his least favorite tracks, added some b-sides and then spliced in some of his favorite tracks from the following year's Rattle and Hum as he felt it carries on the Americana vibe of its predecessor.  And then he sprinkled some tracks including a single remix and a live version from the album that preceded Joshua by three years, The Unforgettable Fire.  It was on that album, that Bono's fascination with American icons and ideals began.

Why call it The Joshua Tree after all the ch-ch-ch-ch-changes?  Because Joshua represents the fully realized vision both musically and lyrically of Bono and the boys obsession/tribute to the United States of America.  It began on Fire and continued through Hum.  And "Unforgettable Joshua Hum" or "Fire Tree Rattle" just didn't sound right.  Sometimes the best course of action is inaction.  Said the guy who ruined your favorite album.


HERC saw U2 perform on tour for all three of the albums. Thanks to the following concert dates and their performed setlists, this playlist was conceived.

 March 1, 1985 - Red Rockers opened; 
April 5, 1987 - was there an opening act?;
and December 20, 1987 - when B.B. King opened.


There is no disputing the late Ms. MacColl's running order - we have been loving it for the last quarter century and have grown accustomed to it but thanks to modern technology, technology that wasn't even dreamt of way back in 1987, what if...


In order to better evaluate HERC's Mix, listen to this playlist for 25 years, then let HERC know how you liked it.  Never mind; you're welcome.

Read Mr. Martin Maenza's track-by-track album reviews by clicking on the titles below:

2 comments:

  1. Hey Herc, so I was wondering where you turn to when you're doing some serious introspection? When you have problems and just don't seem to have an answer, or whether you just need a break. Or is there no "one shoe fits all" and it depends on the different injuries that have occurred to said foot? (awesome metaphor?) Just a curious fan.

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  2. Beans
    When HERC is doing serious introspection, he needs calm. No distractions. That being said, sometimes the thoughts in HERC's head require some quieting. This is achieved either by his favorite songs or intense physical activity.

    As for unanswerable problems, sometimes you just have to let them go, put them out there in the Universe. Occupying yourself with someone else's problems, trying on their shoes to continue your metaphor, can also give you perspective on your own tribulations.

    Our minds, blessed with creativity and imagination are especially adept at making things seem worse than they really are. Reach out and unburden yourself to a confidant.

    Suffering in silence is highly overrated.

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