Rattle And Hum


Island Records, 1988


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Is Rattle And Hum a movie soundtrack, a U2 live album, an "in-the-process" look at how the band records, or just a hodge-podge of music?

I think critics have been trying to figure this out for years, and I'm not going to pretend to have any answers. But as long as it's a decent album, who really cares what you label it as?

Featuring the music from the documentary film of the same name (a film which I haven't watched since I was in college), Rattle And Hum seems to show Bono and crew trying to move away from the "holier-than-thou" stance that was the backbone of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Joshua Tree. How else do you explain the curious but interesting choice of cover tunes - the Beatles' "Helter Skelter" and Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower"? How else do you explain rockin' numbers like "Desire" and "When Love Comes To Town", the latter featuring B.B. King on vocals and guitar?

This isn't to say that U2 wanted to abandon the stoic and serious stance they took with The Joshua Tree - not completely, anyway. Tracks like "Freedom For My People," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and "Bullet The Blue Sky" all represent the political views of U2, and they're represented well, even if Bono gets a little too preachy at times. ("Am I buggin' you?" he asks at one point, then adds - slightly sarcastically, "I didn't mean to bug ya.")

Jumping from the studio to the stage, one would expect that this collection of tracks would suffer, in terms of overall quality. Fortunately for U2, the quirky variety is just what the doctor ordered. The Edge gets his first chance to sing on the track "Van Diemen's Land," and turns in a command performance. Likewise, tracks like "Hawkmoon 269," "God Part II" and "All I Want Is You" are excellent tracks. Only "Love Rescue Me" sags a bit - and this could be because I'm used to a live version featuring Ziggy Marley that I have on the CD3 (remember that marketing disaster, kids?) of "Angel Of Harlem".

I will admit this much about Rattle And Hum: It's an album that you really have to be in the mood for. Sometimes, it feels like there's a lot to take in and digest musically; other times, it's like the album is over in a matter of minutes. It's still a good album overall, but it's not always the most approachable - though it's more approachable than The Joshua Tree these days.

Rating: B+

User Rating: B-



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Island Records, and is used for informational purposes only.