A JOIN is a simple select. It's the simplest, as a matter of fact. If you have a complex query with many linked tables, throwing all the links into the WHERE clause at the end makes the code very difficult to read.
Also, the optimizer is much more likely to use indexes on JOINs than on WHERE relationships. For simple statements the optimizer will convert the WHERE syntax into a JOIN prior to execution, but for complex statements it may not be able to do so.
Code like a pro. Use JOINs to link tables. Use the WHERE clause to filter table records.
If it's not practically useful, then it's practically useless.