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Rattle and Hum

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Album Review

Functioning as both the soundtrack to U2's feature film documentary and as a tentative follow-up to their career-making blockbuster, Rattle and Hum is a bit messy. A mix of live cuts and new studio tracks, the album finds U2 running wild in the aftermath of The Joshua Tree, continuing their embrace of America to the point that they adopt several classic rock moves. Specifically, they dabble in American roots rock, something they ignored before. These experiments sometimes work: "Desire" has an intoxicating Bo Diddley beat, "Angel of Harlem" is a punchy, sunny Stax soul tribute, "When Loves Come to Town" is an endearingly awkward blues duet with B.B. King, and the Dylan collaboration "Love Rescue Me" is an overlooked minor bluesy gem. These are paired with some affecting laments — the cascading "All I Want Is You" and "Heartland," which sounds like a Joshua Tree outtake — but Rattle and Hum is by far the least-focused record U2 ever made, leaving it to the listener to mine for the Silver & Gold within its sprawl.

Customer Reviews

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This Album takes me back to a time when music was playing a very important part in my life and helping me find an identity. The tracks take me to found memories of jumping up and down playing air guitar to Desire or pretending to be a bluesmaster in When Love Comes to Town. I hold this CD very close to my heart. It will stand the test of time, have no doubt about it.

A Good Staring Point

There are flaws to this album, let us state this at the outset. However, bear in mind the context in which the album was made. A group from Ireland, finally "broke" America, probably the first European band on that scale since the 60's invasion. They evidently were struggling to find a path to take after the Super-Nova success of the Joshua Tree, torn between the seeking spirit of breaking new ground, started on the Unforgettable Fire and consolidating on their recent album, Rattle and Hum, falls somewhere in the void. However, it is good place to start for a U2 collection, bridging the gap between the Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby. Some of live material is clunky, the opening line of "Charles Manson stole this" is saturated in concert adrenalin, however the song itself rocks along at a fair pace and if nothing else may encourage you to seek the Beatles original, which will give you a new perspective on where grunge may have it's roots. Like wise, I still Haven't found what I am Looking For, All Along The Watchtower, Pride (In the Name of Love) and Silver and Gold are not as good as their original recordings, strange for a band renowned for lifting songs when they are played live, to new levels. As for Van Diemens Land, probably best left off the album, it’s the weakest point of the album. The one live track which captures this spirit, is Bullet The Blue Sky, it really does conjure the end of the world, at the end of a guitar carpet-bombing. Of the sometimes-lamented new songs that were included on the soundtrack, there are some much underrated, understated gems. Heartland is cotton field hot, something you could imagine, Ella Fitzgerald or Nina Simone singing. Love Rescue Me, is a slow burning flickering in the breeze, yearning for a lost love. Co-Wrote with Bob Dylan, it is a lyrical high point of the album. Worth a listen, but be prepared to have to run through it a few times, it is what people would dub a grower. Of the other songs, you've probably heard them; they are, as others would point out, extensions of Joshua Tree-esque songs. Desire, Angel of Harlem, When love comes to town and the beautiful All I want is you. All great songs. In closing, if I may, I would direct you to Hawkmoon 269 and in particular God Part II. As they represent the first tentative steps away from the Joshua Tree and into the sonic country that would become Achtung Baby. Especially God Part II with it's driving bass rhythm and pounding drum accompaniment, coupled with Bono's lyrics, give the impression of The Fly, almost 3 years ahead of it's time. As I mentioned at the outset, this is probably a good place to jump into a U2 collection, it gives you a recap of the bands biggest albums to that date, plus the first taster of the more radical albums that were to follow.

Great Album (DVD is even better)

This is a fantastic album but I would suggest buying the Rattle and Hum DVD instead.


Formed: 1976 in Dublin, Ireland

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Through a combination of zealous righteousness and post-punk experimentalism, U2 became one of the most popular rock & roll bands in the world -- equally known for their sweeping sound as for their grandiose statements about politics and religion. The Edge provided the group with a signature sound by creating sweeping sonic landscapes with his heavily processed, echoed guitars. Though the Edge's style wasn't conventional, the rhythm section of Larry Mullen, Jr. and Adam Clayton played the songs...
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