U2's "Joshua Tree" earned the Irish quartet two Grammys at last night's 30th Annual Grammy Awards in New York, one of them the prestigious Album of the Year honor and a second one for best rock performance by a duo or group.

Lead singer Bono Hewson poked fun at the group's reputation for social consciousness and commitment, telling the crowd at Radio City Music Hall, "It really is hard carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders ... but we enjoy our work.

"We set out to make soul music," Bono said. "It has nothing to do with being black or white. It's a decision to reveal and not conceal."

Earlier, guitarist The Edge (David Evans) had thanked "everyone in college radio -- I don't know where we'd be without them" and then saluted a wide variety of influences, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bob Dylan, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Walt Disney, Jimi Hendrix, Morris the Cat, Flannery O'Connor, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Fawn Hall, both Batman and Robin, "sumo wrestlers throughout the world and, of course, Ronald Reagan."

Whitney Houston, a winner two years ago with her debut album, took honors for Best Female Pop Vocalist for "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," from "Whitney." That album also earned a producer's Grammy for Narada Michael Walden.

"Somewhere Out There," a sentimental ballad written by veteran songwriters James Horner, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil for the animated film "An American Tail," was named Song of the Year. It didn't seem to be a popular choice with the crowd, which greeted the announcement with but a smattering of polite applause. The song also earned a Grammy for best song written specifically for a film or television show.

Also something of an upset: Paul Simon's "Graceland" won the Record of the Year Grammy. The "Graceland" album was a big winner last year, but few expected this follow-up single to jump past U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," Suzanne Vega's "Luka" or Los Lobos' "La Bamba." Since Simon was in Brazil, his absence and the crowd's tepid response to the award sounded a disconcertingly sour note.

Actually, this entire Grammy Awards ceremony seemed flat, despite the best efforts of emcee Billy Crystal, who joined several other people in poking fun at Jimmy Swaggart ("he was going to perform, but he said he'd rather just watch"). Maybe it's just evidence of the factionalism within the industry, but there seemed to be very little crossover enthusiasm, and even less for such nonglamorous categories as classical and jazz.

And somebody convince Quincy Jones that Jackie Mason is funny. Listening to his meandering monologue last night, you have to wonder about New York's perception of humor (the comedian's one-man show "The World According to Me" was a hit on Broadway last season). Jones, sitting in the front row, seemed particularly embarrassed by Mason's fumbling commentary on race relations. Little wonder that Mason lost the Grammy for Best Comedy Album to Robin Williams, whose presence last night would have been a blessing.

Little Richard upstaged winners and losers alike when he declared that he had won the Grammy for best new artist. "I have never received nuthin' -- y'all never gave me no Grammys, and I've been singing for years," he pointed out. "I am the architect of rock 'n' roll ... the originator," he shouted, and the crowd roared its approval. Unfortunately, it's much the same spiel Little Richard made when he hijacked a presentation at the January Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction dinner. Somebody give this man a contract and some of his own advice: Shut up.

Other presenters suggested that those in attendance hold their applause as they ran through that majority of Grammy awards that were deemed too uninteresting for prime-time presentation. A wakeup call would have been more appropriate.

Also, an unfortunate number of winners "couldn't be here tonight." Which at least provided deadpan comedian Steven Wright with an opening: After Williams won the Grammy for Best Comedy Album for "A Night at the Met," Wright said, "He couldn't be here so we'll go look for him."

Other notable no-shows included Bruce Springsteen, whose "Tunnel of Love" album won the Rock Vocal Award (for which male and female entries were combined this year) and Sting, whose "Bring on the Night" album won the Male Pop Vocal Award.

Michael Jackson's first television appearance since the Motown anniversary in 1982 was an odd affair. First, was he live or was he Memorex? It sure looked as if he was lip-syncing, particularly on the first song, "The Way You Make Me Feel," whose real highlight was a sensual foot solo (or is that feet soli?). On "Man in the Mirror" it was hard to tell for sure. So much for "live" performances. As for Jackson's much-ballyhooed episodic commercials for Pepsi-Cola, they were awful.

Jackson's "Bad" album won an early Grammy, Best-Produced Non-Classical Recording, for producers Bruce Swedien and Humberto Gatica, but Jackson himself was shut out. His best shot was probably the male R&B vocal award, which went instead to another Motown veteran, Smokey Robinson, for "Just to See Her."

On the performance side, a multistar tribute to New York was as long, and about as exciting, as subway trip from Grand Central to Flushing (relieved a little later by a doo-wop tribute). Only Terence Trent D'Arby seemed to invest his solo turn with genuine enthusiasm, but that was before he lost the Best New Artist award to Jody Watley.

However, the only notable moments were provided by Suzanne Vega, Joe Williams and Bobby McFerrin. "Luka" was delivered solo as Vega accompanied herself on acoustic guitar, offering a stripped-down version of her hit single fraught with hesitation. Williams and McFerrin weren't even official performers, but before they raced through the jazz awards they did a few lovely a cappella choruses of "Everyday I Have the Blues." Maybe they should make all the acts perform acoustically next year.

Vladimir Horowitz, the legendary pianist who had 20 Grammys entering the ceremonies, won two more, for Best Classical Album and Best Classical Instrumental Performance, both for "Horowitz in Moscow." He was also given a special President's Special Merit Award from the Academy. Horowitz looked somewhat dazed by his gaudy surroundings, saying in his still-thick Russian accent, "Thank you, thank you, very much. I am so very happy the classical music still has an appreciation." When he won the album award, he simply smiled and carried it away, saying nothing.

Still, Horowitz lags behind Sir Georg Solti, conductor of the Chicago Symphony, whose recording of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony won a Grammy for best orchestral recording and raised his lifetime total to 26 Grammys.

Jennifer Warnes, who won a Best Pop Vocal Duo Grammy five years ago for "Up Where We Belong" with Joe Cocker, took the same award with a new partner, Bill Medley, and another movie theme song, "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" (from "Dirty Dancing").

Aretha Franklin, who already has 12 Grammys, picked up two more, for Best R&B Vocal Performance for her album "Aretha" and Best R&B Performance by a duo or group for her collaboration with George Michael, "I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)."

McFerrin, who stunned the Grammys last year with his scintillating vocal expansion on "Round Midnight," won two Grammys this year: Best Male Jazz Vocal Performance for "What Is This Thing Called Love?" and Best Recording for Children for his collaboration with narrator Jack Nicholson on "The Elephant's Child."

Other dual winners were soprano Kathleen Battle (Vocal Soloist and Best Opera Recording) and violinist Itzhak Perlman (Chamber Music Performance and Instrumental Classical Soloist).

In the country field, veteran newcomer K.T. Oslin took the female vocal Grammy for "80's Ladies," while onetime dishwasher Randy Travis, who's come to dominate the various country awards shows, did the same here, winning the male vocal Grammy for his album "Always & Forever." To no one's surprise, long-time-getting-around-to-that-project and longer-time friends Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris took the group vocal Grammy for "Trio," which had also crossed over into the album of the year category.

A number of artists who have died in the last few years were honored: Professor Longhair, whose "Houseparty New Orleans Style" was voted best traditional blues recording; Steve Goodman, whose "Unfinished Business" was voted Best Contemporary Folk Recording; Peter Tosh, whose "No Nuclear War" was voted Best Reggae Recording. And Garrison Keillor's "Lake Wobegon Days," taken from his self-canceled radio show, won for Best Spoken Word Recording.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the South Africa vocal group featured on Simon's "Graceland" album, won a Grammy for themselves for Best Traditional Folk Recording for "Shaka Zulu," produced by Simon.

Frank Zappa, who has released more than 50 albums in his long career, won his first Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance (orchestra, group or solists) with "Jazz from Hell"; that allowed him to beat both his son, Dweezil, and Bruce Springsteen.

Robert Shaw's recording of requiems by Gabriel Faure' and Maurice Durufle' with the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and Orchestra won Grammys for Best Engineered Classical Recording and for producer Robert Woods. The Atlanta group's recording of Paul Hindemith's "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" won as Best Choral Performance.

This year's show at Radio City Music Hall, televised by CBS, saluted recordings released between Oct. 1, 1986, and Sept. 30, 1987, in 73 categories.

Other winners at last night's Grammy Awards:

MUSICAL CAST SHOW ALBUM: "Les Miserables."

POP VOCAL PERFORMANCE, MALE: Sting, "Bring on the Night."

POP INSTRUMENTAL PERFORMANCE (ORCHESTRA, GROUP OR SOLOIST): Larry Carlton, "Minute by Minute."

NEW AGE PERFORMANCE: Yusef Lateef, "Yusef Lateef's Little Symphony."

R&B SONG: Bill Withers, "Lean on Me."

R&B INSTRUMENTAL PERFORMANCE (ORCHESTRA, GROUP OR SOLOIST): David Sanborn, "Chicago Song."

JAZZ INSTRUMENTAL PERFORMANCE, GROUP: Wynton Marsalis, "Marsalis Standard Time Volume I."

JAZZ FUSION PERFORMANCE, VOCAL OR INSTRUMENTAL: Pat Metheny Group, "Still Life."

JAZZ VOCAL PERFORMANCE, FEMALE: Diane Schuur, "Diane Schuur and the Count Basie Orchestra."

JAZZ INSTRUMENTAL PERFORMANCE, SOLOIST: Dexter Gordon, "The Other Side of Round Midnight."

JAZZ INSTRUMENTAL PERFORMANCE, BIG BAND: The Duke Ellington Orchestra, conducted by Mercer Ellington, "Digital Duke."

COUNTRY VOCAL PERFORMANCE, DUET: Ronnie Milsap and Kenny Rogers, "Make No Mistake, She's Mine."

COUNTRY INSTRUMENTAL PERFORMANCE (ORCHESTRA, GROUP OR SOLOIST): Asleep at the Wheel, "String of Pars."

COUNTRY SONG: Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz, "Forever and Ever, Amen."

GOSPEL PERFORMANCE, FEMALE: Deniece Williams, "I Believe in You."

GOSPEL PERFORMANCE, MALE: Larnelle Harris, "The Father Hath Provided."

GOSPEL PERFORMANCE BY A DUO OR GROUP, CHOIR OR CHORUS: Mylon LeFevre and Broken Heart, "Crack the Sky."

SOUL GOSPEL PERFORMANCE, FEMALE: Cece Winans, "For Always."

SOUL GOSPEL PERFORMANCE, MALE: Al Green, "Everything's Gonna Be Alright."

SOUL GOSPEL PERFORMANCE BY A DUO, GROUP, CHOIR OR CHORUS: The Winans and Anita Baker, "Ain't No Need to Worry."

LATIN POP PERFORMANCE: Julio Iglesias, "Un Hombre Solo."

TROPICAL LATIN PERFORMANCE: Eddie Palmieri, "La Verdad -- The Truth."

MEXICAN-AMERICAN PERFORMANCE: Los Tigres Del Norte, "Gracias! America Sin Fronteras."

CONTEMPORARY BLUES RECORDING: Robert Cray, "Strong Persuader."

POLKA RECORDING: Jimmy Sturr & His Orchestra, "A Polka Just for Me."

INSTRUMENTAL COMPOSITION: Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Billy Higgins, "Call Sheet Blues."

ALBUM OF ORIGINAL INSTRUMENTAL BACKGROUND SCORE WRITTEN FOR A MOTION PICTURE OR TELEVISION: Ennio Morricone, "The Untouchables."

PERFORMANCE MUSIC VIDEO: Elton John, Tina Turner, Sting and others, "The Prince's Trust All-Star Rock Concert."

CONCEPT MUSIC VIDEO: Genesis, "Land of Confusion."

ARRANGEMENT ON AN INSTRUMENTAL: Bill Holman, "Take the 'A' Train," performed by the "Tonight Show" band.

INSTRUMENTAL ARRANGEMENT ACCOMPANYING VOCAL: Frank Foster, "Deedles' Blues" (from "Diane Schuur & the Count Basie Orchestra").

ALBUM PACKAGE (ART DIRECTORS): Bill Johnson, "King's Record Shop."

ALBUM NOTES: Orrin Keepnews, "Thelonious Monk The Complete Riverside Recordings."

HISTORICAL ALBUM (PRODUCERS): Orrin Keepnews, "Thelonious Monk The Complete Riverside Recordings."

OPERA RECORDING: James Levine conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, "Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos."

CONTEMPORARY COMPOSITION: Krzysztof Penderecki, Cello Concerto No. 2.