Rattle and Hum (1989)


 
1. Helter Skelter 2. Van Diemen's Land 3. Desire 4. Hawkmoon 269 5. All Along the Watchtower 6. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For 7. Freedom For My People 8. Silver and Gold 9. Pride (In the Name of Love) 10. Angel of Harlem 11.Love Rescue Me 12.When Love Comes To Town 13.Heartland 14.God Part 2 15.The Star Spangled Banner 16.Bullet the Blue Sky 17.All I Want Is You




 

What do The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Billie Holliday and B.B. King all have in common? Well, for one thing, they all make an appearance, in some strange way or another, on this album. As U2 conquered the world with The Joshua Tree, it really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that a psudo-artsy documentary would be made that followed the band's journey as they toured America supporting one of the biggest records in the history of music.

It was made into a film and a CD - neither were really considered that noteworthy. Since U2 seemed to take on some sort of heavy social responsibility, the film was scattered with commentaries on America, so rather than being an energetic, upbeat film of the guys having fun and enjoying the success, it gets burdened at times with sociological, political platitudes. That's really not to be that unexpected. After all The Joshua Tree was a somewhat commentary on America, so why not make observations and reflections of the very place while the members were playing all across that same country?

The film wasn't really an art film, and its an overall pleasing snap shot of the band during its history. The movie has a lot of great live performances, with a few new studio tracks being demoed and recorded during the process. The CD, ironically, is just the opposite. What we have here is almost enough new songs that could make an entire album. Scattered about it, are some random live tracks done here and there.

The problem with the record is that it really lacks consistency - both on the studio and the live tracks. I'm not really sure of the connection on the album. The songs don't really seem to flow all that well, and I'm not sure why the five live songs were selected (two are covers, and one of them is a song that was not on an album, yet only a B side). It almost sounds like the guys are simply trying to do too much here. They're trying to cram as much America as they can on one album, and the final product seems to be a hodge-podge of songs.

Still, this is U2. And its great U2. So despite its flaws, the overall songs on the package are all fabulous. They have a duet with B.B. King, and Bob Dylan joins them on background vocals on a song. They then do a cover of Dylan's (All Along the Watchtower) in a concert setting - yet the song was probably better known as a Jimi Hendrix song, since his version is better known. They then include the actual Jimi Hendrix The Star Spangled Banner as an introduction to their song Bullet the Blue Sky. They also cover The Beatles with a killer live version of (Helter Skelter).And God, Part II is a response to a John Lennon solo song. Follow all that? If not, that's probably a good indication of how you may feel when you listen to this entire set.

Critics were much more harsh (some calling the album "Prattle and Dumb") then the band deserved, but it did seem, at this point, that U2 was becoming just a tad too heavy and relevant and they seemed to lose some of the spontaneity that made them so enjoyable just a few short years ago. Had more care gone into the arrangements, this could have been another classic. Also, this probably should have been two albums. One of studio - and a second of just the live performances from the tour. Sadly, the film features a lot of great music that cant be found here. Maybe a bonus edition will show up one day.

Back To Main Page
Go To Next Review