The Pre-ordained Classic
March 09, 2007 12:38PM
I'm seeing several stories popping up in the media this week about the 20th anniversary of the release of THE JOSHUA TREE and what a milestone it was, yadda yadda yadda. To me, JOSHUA TREE has always been the prime example of what I call the Pre-Ordained Classic, in which a combination of hype, anticipation, expectation and some sort of odd nigh-conspiracy amongst fans and critics reaches such a critical mass that an album is decreed to be a classic for the ages before it's even released, and its actual contents upon release really have no bearing on anything. It's a five-star, bonafide classic and such petty concerns as listening to the damn thing shall have no bearing on it.

In reality, THE JOSHUA TREE is three pretty good songs frontloaded with an awful lot of filler behind them. Not a terrible album, by any means, but not the world changing artistic statement it has the reputation of being. This seems to be the pattern with Pre-Ordained Classics - they're never really terrible, and some actually ARE great, but they usually don't hold up to the hosannahs prematurely tossed their way. (There's also a difference between the POC and a "highly anticipated" release - NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS was a major event because the Pistols were major cultural news before it was released. And it doesn't fit anyway, since - unbelievably now - it was considered disappointing when it came out.)

Other examples:
I was only 3 1/2 years old when it came out, but I imagine SGT PEPPER fits the bill

I had a much longer list in my head when I started typing this, but they're gone now. I'm sure they'll come back to me. But if anyone else has any that spring to mind, throw em out there.
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 09, 2007 12:59PM
The Lucinda Williams that you mention is a prime example...the previous album, Sweet Old World, was the classic. But because she had such a lapse between releases--and because so many people were a day late and a dollar short on discovering her--they deemed the highly mediocre album a classic. You're dead on about YHF too; compared to its predecessor, Summerteeth, it's a flat, uninteresting album. Summerteeth, in its own way, was dairing and experimental and all the other adjectives they applied to it. Flipping it around and looking backwards, it seems like a lot of the classics that weren't preordained have staying power because of they "uncanniness" and being so out of place and time when they came out, Marquee Moon and Astral Weeks for instance.
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 09, 2007 02:27PM
Good topic.

How about Born in the USA?
Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms.

In both cases (at least in terms of the singles), it seems like the songwriters had forgotten how to write an actual song. I realize that neither Springsteen nor Knopfler are likely to have too many fans around here, but both of them had written plenty of well-constructed, melodic songs (both short and long). Yet the non-melodic, barely-there songs on these albums became huge hits.

Throw Peter Gabriel's So on the heap as well. Where are the songs? Was everyone doing cocaine in the 80s?
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 09, 2007 03:25PM
"Born in the USA" is actually a pretty good song, stripped of the studio bombast of the recording. It was a discard from the Nebraska sessions and I wouldn't mind hearing it in that context. (I know, I know: ye olde "Nebraska" justification for Springsteen.) It's a pretty dark and negative song and not the patriotic anthem that dimwit Reagan thought he had adopted in using the tune. I saw Springsteen in his solo folkie guise summer 2005 from the third row and had a good chance to reevaluate my once reactionary stance toward him. He did some really interesting, creepy, Americana and no hits. He closed with a Suicide cover. I left impressed and became an admirer; the Springsteen fans were enraged by the show. A bada-bing guy next to me kept saying, "I came all duh way from central Jersey for *dis*?!!!"
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 09, 2007 04:01PM
erikalbany wrote:

> "Born in the USA" is actually a pretty good song, stripped of
> the studio bombast of the recording.

Be that as it may, it was the bombastic version that was a hit, and which is considered a classic. The thing I hate about that record (and "Dancing in the Dark") is that they're so repetitive. The melody goes "Bum, ba-da, ba-da-bum", and to accent it, the synthesizer goes "Bum, ba-da, ba-da-bum". Over and over and over again.

The song got boring in the first 15 seconds, from a guy who had previously written some fairly interesting songs in the 7+ minute range.
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 09, 2007 04:47PM
I have often thought that after a band puts out an outstanding collection, the industry arrives a bit late. Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream comes to mind, as for my money Gish is much more interesting.

I think this was tried several times with REM (who wound up sounding very apologetic after the record didn't do the buisiness expected--I'm thinking Life's Rich Pageant and Fables of the Reconstruction of the Fables). The band wanted to distance themselves from the previous failure.

Bob Mould sounded that way about Workbook when Black Sheets of Rain came out (I like Workbook a lot and find BSoR kinda slapdash, though not bad).

And to be close to the moment, The Arcade Fire has a new, can't miss CD on the shelves. Will Neon Bible be on this list in a year or two? I have it, I've listened a couple times so far. I like it, but darned if they don't sound eerily like John Cafferty and Beaver Brown on track 2. Not a good thing...

Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 09, 2007 06:06PM
I absolutely agree with the premise that the industry always ends up overpraising the album after the great album. One case that comes to mind is the lavish praise heaped on Sleater Kinney's Dig Me Up which was only about 75% as good as the classic Call the Doctor. Or the second New Pornographers LP, which nobody I know considers as good as the first one but which received massive critical acclaim.

The preordained classic of course always causes an equal and opposite reaction. It is for this reason that I try to avoid exposure to such albums until about 5 or 10 years after the fact. Maybe I will actually listen to Kid A one of these days....

Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 10, 2007 06:34PM
You mentioned Sgt. Pepper might be.

In the latest Mojo there is much written about it. And it seems to be the opposite of what you described. Even though it was highly anticipated, people didn't think it was going to be that great. There were also talks of the group breaking up. But most notable people who heard it proclaimed it to be a tremendous cultural leap, not just a great album.
I have the tendency to agree.
Even though you could hear Joshua Tree jangling around the late eighties quite a bit, it did not have any cultural effect.

David Crosby's personal accounts of first hearing Sgt. Pepper are especially noteworthy.

Any well-aged Hipsters have any comments on the subject?
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 10, 2007 11:45PM
> David Crosby's personal accounts of first hearing Sgt. Pepper
> are especially noteworthy.
> Any well-aged Hipsters have any comments on the subject?

the handsome one by way of the adny one:

June 1st, 67 something died and went to heaven
I wish Sgt Pepper
never taught the band to play

Post Edited (03-10-07 19:46)
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 11, 2007 12:10AM
man, i hated that fucking album that summer. i was in day camp and we were 13 and everyone (especially the girls and the smug guys) made it out like they'd been given the Torah in hummable form. The ponderousness of what they imagined to be the Beatles message in those silly ditties was my first inkling of the sense that when everyone sees or hears something that isn't there, it doesn't mean it has to be there, that it is entirely possible to be in a tiny minority about something and still be right.
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 11, 2007 05:35AM
What were you listening to at the time, Ira?
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 11, 2007 01:07PM
the who mostly...
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 11, 2007 01:25PM
"it is entirely possible to be in a tiny minority about something and still be right."

This needs to be engraved somewhere.
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 12, 2007 03:02AM
i think its true that the who sell out somewhere in the ono ads (the am sound) SCRATCHED ala hip hop before anyone.
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 12, 2007 02:01PM
I think the main problem w/Sgt. Pepper was that it wasn't deemed so much as being a pre-ordained Classic Album, but a pre-ordained Classic of Western Civilization, ranking right up there not just w/the Beach Boys or the Stones, but w/Michangelo & Shakespere. It was the album that allegedly showed that Rock n' Roll had "grown up" to an adult artistic level. Ira's post really nailed how some people reacted to it. Speaking of the Beach Boys, I wonder what Sgt. Pepper's impact would have been if Brian Wilson had finshed & released SMILE in late '66.

P.S. : I would like to read Ira's take on the Who Sell Out (my fave rave Who album) in the 33 1/3 series.
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 12, 2007 03:45PM
I was born the year Sgt. Pepper's came out, so I wasn't caught up in the hype. (Besides, my dad's favorite band when I was a baby was Creedence Clearwater Revival.) Over the years I've admired it's technical innovations and production and arrangement ambitions, but I find the songs fairly slight and too much of it sounds dated to me.

The only Beatles albums my parents owned when I was growing up were Rubber Soul and Abbey Road, which are my favorites to this day. I'd be curious to know if Abbey Road also had the "pre-ordained classic" appellation attached to it when it was released.

Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 12, 2007 11:05PM
lest my animosity for Sgt. Peppers (and Abbey Road, which is even worse) be taken out of context, Meet the Beatles was the first album I ever bought, and a couple of girls in grade school (when I was 10) nicknamed me Ringo, which I liked, even though it was because there were so few white kids in the school and i had bangs...
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 13, 2007 01:44AM
you had lester?

please tell us more...
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 12, 2007 06:25PM
Nirvana: Nevermind
Not a bad record, but again it's 3 good songs surrounded by forgettable-to-okay-but-not-classic material. One has to wonder if it would have been considered a "classic" (instead of a "breakthrough") if Kurt hadn't become a Rock Star Casualty (I remember hearing about his death on the radio and the announcer describing him as the "John Lennon" of our generation. No comment.)
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 12, 2007 07:39PM
I saw The Who last week in D.C. In spite of the negative posts that I've written about old rock stars still performing in their advanced years, I felt compelled to see if Roger, Pete and their sidemen can still cut it live. Yes. They concentrated a good portion of their show playing new material from Endless Wire, which is a pretty damned good album, compared to Face Dances and It's Hard, my two least favorite Who albums. There is a mini-opera, rock, soft ballads and social comment songs on the new album. They all work well as individual songs and as a whole. It seems like many sides of a maturing world view from Pete Townshend. He is still the angry guy from My Generation. His energy has been shifted to society's ills in a realistic sense, for example, railing against hypocrites in religious robes in "Man in a Purple Dress." Endless Wire is not being touted as a "preordained classic" album. However, it's growing on me and could be seen as a sleeper that turns classic over time. It's as good, or better than, The Who By Numbers and Who Are You, not that those albums were really seen as classics when they first came out. I personally like those albums, so the new one gets kudos from me. My favorite Who album is The Who Sell Out. How can they repeat that work of art twice? I can suspend my typical criticism of old bands working past their prime in the case of The Who. As an aside, I also give Dylan a pass based on his exellent new album, Modern Times. He's still the lyrical badass he was in 1965.
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
November 27, 2008 01:38AM
I saw The Who again on November 3, 2008 at the same location, the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. Excellent show. They didn't play as much of the Endless Wire material this time, only a handful of the songs from the album. They stuck to the classics and a few rarities like "The Seeker," which sounds great live. It sounds close to the studio version because Simon Townshend plays the guitar parts Pete doesn't play. It sounds full, like the record. Roger can still belt out the screams. Pete can still windmill some distorted sound. I guess they will keep it up until they drop dead of old age.
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 13, 2007 05:28AM
> In reality, THE JOSHUA TREE is three pretty good songs frontloaded with
> an awful lot of filler behind them. Not a terrible album, by any means, but
> not the world changing artistic statement it has the reputation of being.
> This seems to be the pattern with Pre-Ordained Classics - they're never
> really terrible, and some actually ARE great, but they usually don't hold
> up to the hosannahs prematurely tossed their way.

I felt the same way about *The Joshua Tree*, from the start. The yield of top-notch songs was pretty weak, compared to *War*. And I thought its sound was a bit threadbare. Compared to *The Unforgettable Fire*, everything seemed to sit on the surface. "Not as good as it was popular," as Ira says. But I seemed to be the only one in my circle who didn't regard it as a masterpiece.

Maybe some of that hype taught U2 a lesson, though, because their next album of all-new material, *Achtung Baby*, IS a damn near unimpeachable classic. Solid songwriting from beginning to end, surprises galore in the production, and a new overall approach that had me enthralled from the first time I heard "The Fly" on the radio. Whereas *The Joshua Tree* had left me scratching my head, wondering what all the fuss was about, *Achtung Baby* spent so much time in my CD player that the postman started delivering mail to it there.
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 22, 2007 07:06PM
Funny, I was at a party recently and a guy was talking about how THE JOSHUA TREE is his favorite album of all time...

YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT definitely fits the bill ("The label rejected the album!!!").

NEVERMIND was not a pre-ordained classic. I think Rolling Stone only gave it 3 stars (as is their custom). It had some hype, but not at pre-ordained levels.

REM - OUT OF TIME: definitely pre-ordained
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 23, 2007 10:52AM

NEVERMIND was not a pre-ordained classic. I think Rolling Stone only gave it 3 stars (as is their custom). It had some hype, but not at pre-ordained levels.

that would have been me....not one of my finest hours....but yes, you're right, no one outside of Olympia knew what that record was until it became it.
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 23, 2007 11:28AM
I was wondering if you were going to own up to that Rolling Stone review, Ira (which, to this day, I agree with).

Here 'tis:

(RS 618 - Nov. 28, 1991)

Despite the hand-wringing the fanzines do each time an indie-rock hero signs a major-label deal, righteous postpunk stars from Hüsker Dü to Soundgarden have joined the corporate world without debasing their music. More often than not, ambitious left-of-the-dial bands gallantly cling to their principles as they plunge into the depths of commercial failure. Integrity is a heavy burden for those trying to scale the charts.

Led by singer-guitarist Kurt Cobain, Nirvana is the latest underground bonus baby to test mainstream tolerance for alternative music. Given the small corner of public taste that nonmetal guitar rock now commands, the Washington State trio's version of the truth is probably as credible as anyone's. A dynamic mix of sizzling power chords, manic energy and sonic restraint, Nirvana erects sturdy melodic structures – sing-along hard rock as defined by groups like the Replacements, Pixies and Sonic Youth – but then at-tacks them with frenzied screaming and guitar havoc. When Cobain revs into high punk gear, shifting his versatile voice from quiet caress to raw-throated fury, the decisive control of bassist Chris Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl is all that keeps the songs from chaos. If Nirvana isn't onto anything altogether new, Nevermind does possess the songs, character and confident spirit to be much more than a reformulation of college radio's high-octane hits.

Nirvana's undistinguished 1989 debut, Bleach, relied on warmed-over Seventies metal riffs, but the thrashing Nevermind boasts an adrenalized pop heart and incomparably superior material, captured with roaring clarity by coproducer Butch Vig. Cued in with occasional (and presumably intentional) tape errors, most of the songs – like "On a Plain," "Come as You Are" and "Territorial Pissings" – exemplify the band's skill at inscribing subtlety onto dense, noisy rock. At the album's stylistic extremes, "Something in the Way" floats a translucent cloud of acoustic guitar and cello, while "Breed" and "Stay Away" race flat-out, the latter ending in an awesome meltdown rumble.

Too often, underground bands squander their spunk on records they're not ready to make, then burn out their energy and inspiration with uphill touring. Nevermind finds Nirvana at the crossroads – scrappy garageland warriors setting their sights on a land of giants.
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 23, 2007 04:40PM
That is an excellent review. On the money too.

I never bought into the Nirvana hype. There was so much better music from the late 80's early 90's. There is no denying the cultural impact but musically speaking 3 out of 4 is about right, maybe generous.
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
November 29, 2008 03:44AM
I thought Daisy Chainsaw was better than any of those Seattle grung bands.
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 23, 2007 01:28PM
From this vantage point, I don't think Ira's review is all that far off the mark.

But hey, Ira, per your comment above - they weren't from Oly!
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 24, 2007 04:12AM
I wasn't implying that they were from Olympia, i was alluding (without explanation, sorry) to an experience i had. The K Records festival was held in Olympia in August 1991, and everyone there was buzzing about how Nirvana had changed tack from Bleach and made this amazing pop record, which it seemed all the indie insiders in town (which, because of the event, meant all the similar folks from Seattle) had heard. i left there desperate to hear what it meant for the unexceptional thrash band that made Bleach to have supposedly made a great pop album. that was the meaning of my remark.

the coda to the story is that i contacted geffen when i got back to nyc, got a cassette, and pitched rolling stone, for whom i had covered the K Fest. Anthony DeCurtis essentially took my word for it, and assigned me an average length review, which then he sat on for something like three issues, during which an unreleased cassette became a rocketing up the charts smash, which made me look like an idiot, since the gist of my review was the futility of its chances.
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 24, 2007 10:35AM
what's a cassette grandpa?
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
December 01, 2008 11:13PM
ah no, Baker, you dinnnnnnn't!

[I realize I'm responding to a post from March, but it's new to me, and it's making me laugh in December]

Post Edited (12-01-08 19:24)
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
December 02, 2008 04:17PM
March of last year, no less!
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
October 30, 2009 07:15PM
would something like this qualify @ least?

HOLLY BETH VINCENT & the italians

new album out soon!
Re: Ira's review
March 23, 2007 03:50PM
Obviously with the rule of hindsight being 20/20 there was no way to predict what Nervermind would become. Divorced from its cultural impact, (which is on par with Never Mind the Bollocks and maybe even Sgt. Pepper), Ira's review seems pretty on the mark to me; I even agree with the 3 star rating. I probably would have rated Sgt. Peppers and Never Mind the Bollocks 3 stars as well.
Re: Ira's review
March 23, 2007 04:22PM
Ira's Nevermind review is right on the money in my opinion, though I find 3 stars a tad low for an album containing a few undeniable classics. It annoyed the piss out of me to see lame high school girls banging their head around to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" at the prom! I don't really understand the reaction against Never Mind the Bollocks, however. That is a really goddamn exciting record. Are there any moments in, say the Fall's canon, as thrilling as "I wanna be part of historeeeee" ?

Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 24, 2007 12:02AM
Excellent review. Seems a bit enthusiastic for an album that got only three stars (out of five). But then, the fine print states that the ratings are "supervised" by RS's editors. For all I know, they may be determined by throwing darts.

Actually, I liked Michael Azerrad's essay, published in the April 1999 issue of CMJ's commercial/monthly imprint, about where rock had gone in the five years since Cobain's death — i.e., nowhere. He said that rock had seen an onslaught of copycat bands, stealing from Nirvana's sound. He commented that any band that makes it big inevitably breeds such a wave of imitators:

"But the results have been even more dire in Nirvana's case, because truth to tell, Nirvana's sound wasn't all that inventive to begin with. It was just an amalgam of other bands that Cobain liked — the Beatles, Sabbath, the Pixies, Hüsker Dü. But it was *inspired*. And it's that inspiration that's lacking from the dull music of the grunge imitators. These bands have copped Nirvana's sound, but not Cobain's sensibility."

Perhaps *Nevermind* could be described as a "post-deflated" classic. (Given some of the comments in this thread, that would put it in some lofty company.)
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 24, 2007 12:52AM
Ira listed "Nevermind" extremely high on his list of 50 favorite (or was that "best"?) albums on this board - and his TP entry for it is significantly more admiring than the RS review.

My problem with "Nevermind", is that I find it contradictory to the main characteristic of great Rock & Roll, in that it lacks the hedonistic spirit that I always thought defined the music from Elvis onward.

With the exception of "Breed" there's very little joyous about the record. I find it kind of bums me out and it even did at the time. It's raucous but I don't find it cathartic. I know that when I first heard "Definitely Maybe" I thought "Nevermind" sounded kind of silly in its worldview.

Azzerad is right, not much happened post-Nevermind, but I'm not sure Cobain's "sensibility" deserved to be copped. I'll get blasted for this, but I didn't think Rock really got back on track post-"Nevermind" until the new garage bands of this decade.

It's really the dirty little secret of Rock & Roll (and Rock criticism) : It's rarely about what's "good" or what's "better". It's usually about a utilitarian issue - "how can I use this music in my life?" ; in the case of Nirvana, I never figured out how to incorporate it in a way I could live with. It was great, but it wasn't any good, so to speak.

Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
March 31, 2007 10:18AM
People like to feel part of a majority group.
c.f. the flag-waving years 2003-2005, and the year of J.T.

"It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority." - Lord Acton

"When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule the majority are wrong. The minority are right." - Eugene V. Debs

“Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.” - Gandhi

“Everything great and intelligent is in the minority” - Goethe

"A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority" - Thoreau

"Should we judge a culture by its majority?" - Emerson

"Truth always rests with the minority" - Kierkegaard
OK, my sgt pepper's story::
I grew up with roots country. My dad hated rock.
We bought a used furniture-console record changer in the late 60s. Inside someone had left a SP's record cover but the vinyl was missing! I had MMTour and would listen to it instead while staring at the SP cover and imagining what it might sound like. Even though MMT had a booklet inside, the cover of SP looked like it contained a Kabbalah secret to unveiling the hidden meaning of the Torah (wink). Didn't hear it 'til junior high school a decade later but, alas, the Pistols/Ramones/Clash had happened.
Of course, heard SP over the years but didn't sit down with headphones until Recording Engineering class.
I do think it's brilliant and has a place in history. I think everyone should hear it. I don't care to hear it instead of Revolver or Abbey.
Last Beatles I put on and thoroughly enjoyed was Let it Be. But then, I was never Beatles/Who. I was Kinks/Stones.
pre-ordained classic?
new Dylan has one good track. I'm willing to give the new 'oo another chance, due comments here.
Ira, the backstory casts light on yr approach re:Nevermind. Your evaluation now would be fun/interesting.
Nevermind=Good Charlotte (if they'd have come "1st", which is what the issue is). The point was the next big thing for an industry sick of hair metal, not some untread ground. But since I like Bleach better and think it's not warmed-over-70s but the museum exhibit for grunge....somebody has to be devil's adv. To make matters worse, I prefer Dig Me Out!
I also have a sexual attraction to Lois Griffin.

Post Edited (03-31-07 18:43)
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic: "Chinese Democracy"
November 26, 2008 07:07AM
Haven't heard it yet, but "Chinese Democracy" seems to be POCS (the Pre-Ordained Classic Syndrome) again. After such a long wait, how can it not be a masterpiece?
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic:
November 26, 2008 01:23PM
Really? I'd had the impression that most people were expecting it to be terrible and a laughable waste of time and that Axl would be exposed a crazy old goon who'd wasted a decade crafting a ludicrous piece of crap. Most of the stories of the past decade have definitely focused on Rose burning through bizarre band line-ups and melting down in concert while working obsessively on something that couldn't help but be a disappointment.

I've been pretty surprised by the good notices it's been getting. I haven't heard a single thing from it yet, either, so I have no basis to form an opinion if the good reviews are justified or not (and the only review I've read in its entirety is Klosterman's, who would admit he's not unbiased when it comes to 80s metal). But still, I think the reaction has been more "hey, wow, it's actually pretty good, who'da thunk?" more than "of course this was going to be great."

Post Edited (11-26-08 09:28)
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
November 26, 2008 11:06PM
June 1st, 67 something died and went to heaven
I wish Sgt Pepper
never taught the band to play

Hee hee, how great is Dick?
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
December 01, 2008 04:58PM
Here is my two cents worth:

At the time "The Joshua Tree" came out, I was working in a record store in Roanoke, Va. I was a sophomore in high school, if memory serves. Got to buy the cassette after closing time the day before the album was released. Boy-o-boy! I thought I was so special.

((("Cler the track, thar. I'm on the waw-path, and the price uv coffins is
a-gwyne to raise!")))

I listened to that tape until I fell asleep that night. Walkman batteries dead as doornails in the morning. Loved it. Loved all of it. Took the cassette to school the next day and got so wound-up while trying to explain to my homeroom girlie-friend how good it was that I just about collapsed. I was babbling. Practically foaming at the mouth. Things got me more excited back in those days.

That said, I've never considered "The Joshua Tree" to be some sort of monolithic cultural milestone. Certainly not on the order of Springsteen's "Born In The USA." It didn't take long at the time to see that it was just the last album U2 was going to make for a long time where they took themselves seriously. After "Rattle & Hum," they basically tossed the "Lets-Dress-Like-Amish-Ministers-And-Walk-Across-A-Frozen-Lake" image aside and went Vegas. When you're making that kind of money, who'd believe in anything remotely approaching that sort of earnestness anyway, right?

I basically gave up on U2 about that time. At least I stopped buying their stuff. "Actung Baby!" and onward. Having read about and heard traces of their recent stuff wherein they are alleged to have "returned to classic form," I can sort of grasp what might be at the heart of this "Pre-ordained-Classic" idea.

But really, I cannot agree that the label applies to “The Joshua Tree.” As a witness, all that I can say is that it just felt like a great album by a great band. A great album was expected, but no one I knew was waiting at the foot of the mountain for Bono and Co. to descend with a “Pre-ordained Classic” in their collective mitts. The whole thing could have just as easily stunk on ice. That it did not wasn’t viewed as miraculous by myself or my friends. We were just very glad to have it. Was the album hyped? Yeah, I suppose so. But not on the monstrous, runaway-train level that is so prevalent in this day and age. And the only “cultural” ripple caused by “TJT” that I can think of would be that Berkeley Breathed decided to parody Anton Corbijn's cover photo for the back cover of his Bloom County "Billy & The Boingers Bootleg" cartoon collection. Mind you: The BACK cover.

One other thing occurs to me just now. If (as our original poster implied) there is a lot of “filler” on “The Joshua Tree,” can you conjure up a better version of “TJT” by re-sequencing it or adding songs that U2 left off the album and relegated to B-sides of singles? There are some ace tunes that never got onto the album. Think of the exercise as indulging your inner Kirsty MacColl.

All that said, I do still think of “The Joshua Tree” as a classic. Just not a lead-pipe cinch of a classic. Maybe its just that I was so young at the time? As a flipside to this “P.O.C.” notion, how about Guns ‘N Roses and “Appetite For Destruction?” I seem to remember that LP taking about a year to get really monstrous commercially. That year is book-ended by record store Christmas parties. The first year it was merely available. By the next Christmas, it was unavoidable.

Two cent worth? Make those cents circa 1987 and we’re squared up.

Post Edited (11-01-09 15:03)
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
October 30, 2009 05:10PM
Taking this one out of mothballs, because of Florence + The Machine.

I thought there was/is entirely too much hype. I felt the song title "Kiss with a Fist" was too clever by half (still do, actually). Putting a song on soundtrack to Jennifer's Body (from the writer of Juno!) did nothing to endear even the idea of this band to me. I anticipated something for the Hot Topic crowd (well, that could still be correct – I don't know).

The more I read about Florence and her pseudo band, the more I figured they'd end up 2009's answer to Big Pig, and not in a good way.

So, after months of hearing and reading raves about Florence + The Machine (as well as the most Kate Bush comparisons since there was a Kate Bush), against my better judgment, I finally listened to their A Lot of Love. A Lot of Blood EP yesterday.

I bought it. Then, I bought the deluxe version of their debut long player, Lungs this morning. I've been listening to these tunes for at least 12 of the last 24 hours.

So, based on the early singles and debut EP, this was one H-Y-P-E-D album. My friends, I am definitely drinking the Kool-Aid.

One can certainly understand the Kate Bush comparisons, especially with regards to the lyrics and the orchestral/choral thing...but that's just one small part of what's happening. These are delicious, delirious songs of twisted, youthful obsession. So good. Although one still wonders about the Jennifer's Body soundtrack.
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
December 01, 2008 07:42PM
I never worked at a record store, but I had plenty of friends who did. One of those friends agreed to set aside a copy of The Joshua Tree for me on the day of its release. Based on the steadily built-up fan base for War, Under a Blood Red Sky (which sold like hotcakes in Colorado, thanks to the Red Rocks show) and The Unforgettable Fire, my clerk friend was predicting some big sales.

I got my copy, took it home, listened to it ... and was rather disappointed. About half the songs were great; the rest seemed like filler to me.

Since then, most of those less-than-great tracks have gained some worth to my ears. Overall, though, I concur with Ira's assessment: after the first three tracks, the album gets pretty inconsistent. On the other hand, I loved Achtung Baby from beginning to end, and still do.

Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
December 03, 2008 09:25PM
I think it's the perfect moment to confirm one of the original posits:


And to be close to the moment, The Arcade Fire has a new, can't miss CD on the shelves. Will Neon Bible be on this list in a year or two? I have it, I've listened a couple times so far. I like it, but darned if they don't sound eerily like John Cafferty and Beaver Brown on track 2. Not a good thing...

Neon Bible qualifies as a POC in my book. I enjoyed it for about 4-6 months, but it never got under my skin like Funeral. If pressed, I'd attribute my meh-ness to the overall overwrought overkill.

My future wife gave me the cassette of The Joshua Tree at a high school track meet in March of '87, so I lack objectivity, although I'll admit it is not my favorite U2 release. Nevertheless, I was listening to the 20th Anniversary Remaster of The Joshua Tree yesterday, and commented to a friend that I never get tired of the song "One Tree Hill"...
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
December 03, 2008 10:56PM
"One Tree Hill" and "In God's Country" are the two best songs on Joshua Tree after the opening salvo.

But after twenty years, I can look at the track list and honestly say I have no idea what "Exit" or "Mother's of the Disappeared" sound like, even though I've listened to the thing in its entirety many times.
Re: The Pre-ordained Classic
December 04, 2008 01:17AM
street with no name is solid.

hate to rub it in but i did see their '81 tour w/jay guiles WPalm Auditorium.

My friend, (we'll call him Matt) stole their laundry.

niether him nor me don't know anything about no 'october' album lyrics disappearing though.

Post Edited (12-03-08 21:19)
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