Rattle & Hum


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Review Text Functioning as both the soundtrack to the group's disastrous feature-film documentary and as a tentative follow-up to their career-making blockbuster, Rattle and Hum is all over the place. The live cuts lack the revelatory power of Under a Blood Red Sky and are undercut by heavy-handed performances and Bono's embarrassing stage patter; prefacing a leaden cover of "Helter Skelter" with "This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles, and now we're stealing it back" is bad enough, but it pales next to Bono's exhortation "OK, Edge, play the blues!" on the worthy, decidedly unbluesy "Silver and Gold." Both comments reveal more than they intend -- throughout the album, U2 sound paralyzed by their new status as "rock's most important band." They react by attempting to boost their classic rock credibility. They embrace American roots rock, something they ignored before. Occasionally, these experiments 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. However, these get swallowed up in the bluster of the live tracks, the misguided gospel interpretation of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and the shameful answer to John Lennon's searing confession "God," "God, Pt. 2." A couple of affecting laments -- the cascading "All I Want Is You" and "Heartland," which sounds like a Joshua Tree outtake -- do slip out underneath the posturing, but Rattle and Hum is by far the least-focused record U2 ever made, and it's little wonder that they retreated for three years after its release to rethink their whole approach. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Helter Skelter - 3:07
  2. 2. Van Diemen's Land - 3:05
  3. 3. Desire - 3:59
  4. 4. Hawkmoon 269 - 6:22
  5. 5. All Along the Watchtower - 4:24
  6. 6. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - 6:53
  7. 7. Freedom for My People - 1:38
  8. 8. Silver and Gold - 6:49
  9. 9. Pride (In the Name of Love) - 4:27
  10. 10. Angel of Harlem - 4:49
  11. 11. Love Rescue Me - 6:24
  12. 12. When Love Comes to Town - 4:15
  13. 13. Heartland - 5:03
  14. 14. God Part II - 3:15
  15. 15. Star Spangled Banner - 1:43
  16. 16. Bullet the Blue Sky - 6:36
  17. 17. All I Want Is You - 7:30

Product Details

This excellent documentary follows the Irish group U2 on their concert tour of the United States in support of their seventh album Joshua Tree. The politically involved rock quartet sets their sights on American musical influences, previously ignored. They quickly immerse themselves in the musical culture with a recording session at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis. Four tracks were recorded that ended up on their next record appropriately called Rattle And Hum. Blues Legend B.B.King adds his vocals and guitar work to Love Comes To Town, and Angel Of Harlem is a passionate tribute to the late Billie Holiday. In addition to their original material, the band covers gems from The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix. Director Phil Joanou combines black-and-white with color photography to capture the band on and off the stage. Only the band's visit to Elvis Presley's Graceland seems out of context with the rest of the feature. Although the band's reverence for Elvis and his music is evident, they are merely tourists standing on the other side of a velvet rope. Spinal Tap had a more poignant visit to the king's palace, but Rattle And Hum is still one of the best musical documentaries of all time. Both the musical and political passion of U2 is evident in every frame. ~ Dan Pavlides, Rovi
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