U2

Where the Streets Have No Name

Composed by Adam Clayton / Bono / Larry Mullen, Jr. / The Edge

Song Review by

"Where the Streets Have No Name" failed to equal the dominance of its two chart-topping predecessors ("With or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For") from U2's 1987 blockbuster The Joshua Tree, just missing the Top Ten on the singles chart. However, its insistent, propulsive rhythmic drive and anthemic chorus eventually earned the song its status as part of the uppermost echelon of the band's repertoire, and an enduring fan favorite. With the slow build of its arrangement toward a climactic peak, "Where the Streets Have No Name" was a perfect album-opener, fading in first with atmospheric synths that gave no indication of the song's tempo. The Edge then entered with an up-tempo, chiming guitar arpeggio, run through a delay effect (in which each note rang out twice) to make it sound even busier. While bassist Adam Clayton maintained a steadily driving pulse, Larry Mullen Jr.'s drums kept time in 16th notes for much of the song, and the percussive guitar effects picked up the slack when he dropped into a looser, less demanding pattern. This perpetual forward momentum lent greater force to the song's lyrics, which pleaded for a utopian sort of freedom vaguely linked with natural imagery and an escape from urbanization. Bono's delivery was passionate and grandiose, his commitment to the material unshakable. That, coupled with the sonic power of the rest of the band, was what gave pre-Achtung Baby U2 its tremendous force -- and "Where the Streets Have No Name" was a perfect example.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Joshua Tree 1987
U2
Island 4:47
No Image 1987
U2
Island
Rock's Hottest Ticket [Disc 1+2] 1987
U2
Red Phantom 6:26
No Image 1991
U2
RP
No Image 1992
U2
Indian Records 5:36
Dublin 1993 1993
U2
Live Storm 5:16
Zoo TV: Live from Sydney [Video] 1994
U2
Az / Island
Emerald Rock [Alex] 1995
Various Artists
Alex 4:48
Sounds of the Eighties: The Rolling Stone Collection, 1986-1987 1995
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 5:35
Please 1997
U2
Island 6:33
Popmart 98: Santiago 1998
U2
Thunderball 5:39
Now: 1987 [36 Tracks] 1998
Various Artists
Virgin/EMI 4:36
The Best of 1980-1990/The B-Sides 1998
U2
Island / Universal 4:35
The Best of 1980-1990 1998
U2
Island / Universal 4:35
No Image 1998
U2
Popmart 7:30
The Joshua Tree [DVD] 2000
U2
Image Entertainment
No Image 2000
Various Artists
MCA
Ö3 Greatest Hits, Vol. 11 2000
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:34
Walk On 2001
U2
Island
Elevation Tour 2001: Live from Boston [Video/DVD] 2001
U2
Interscope
Q Anthems 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:35
U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle [DVD] 2003
U2
Interscope
Greatest Irish Bands [Bonus DVD] 2004
Various Artists
Hip-O 4:36
50 Years of the Greatest Hit Singles 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
World Cup Of Hockey 2004 2004
Various Artists
Universal International 4:27
Vertigo 05 Live from Chicago 2005
U2
Interscope
The U2 Phenomenon: The Independent Review 2006
U2
Classic Rock Legends
Zoo TV Live 2006
U2
U2 Limited 5:39
U218 Singles 2006
U2
Interscope / Island/Def Jam / Universal / Universal Distribution 4:46
Zoo TV Live from Sydney [2 Disc DVD] 2006
U2
Island
Popmart: Live from Mexico City [Video] 2007
U2
Island
U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle 2007
U2
U2 Dot Com 5:40
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Keltia 4:36
The Best of 1980-2000 2009
U2
Island 4:36
360 at the Rose Bowl 2010
U2
Universal Island Records
Innocence + Experience Live in Paris [Video] 2016
U2
Interscope / Island
Zoo TV Tour: Texas 1992
U2
Not Guilty 5:04
blue highlight denotes editor's pick