The Joshua Tree is the fifth studio album by rock band U2. Produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, it was released on 9 March 1987 by Island Records. In contrast to the ambient experimentation of their 1984 release, The Unforgettable Fire, on The Joshua Tree U2 aimed for a harder-hitting sound within the limitation of conventional song structures. The album is influenced by American and Irish roots music, and depicts the band's love-hate relationship with the United States, with socially and politically conscious lyrics embellished with spiritual imagery.
Inspired by American tour experiences, literature, and politics, U2 chose America as a theme for the record. Recording began in January 1986 in Ireland, and to foster a relaxed, creative atmosphere, the group recorded in two houses, in addition to two professional studios. Several events during the sessions helped 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 was completed in November 1986; additional production continued into January 1987. Throughout the sessions, U2 sought a "cinematic" quality for the record, one that would evoke a sense of location, in particular, the open spaces of America. They represented this in the sleeve photography depicting them in American desert landscapes.