Friday, November 27, 2009

U2 7: Rattle And Hum

Unfortunately, having become truly superstars, U2 got caught up in the wake of their incredible success and popularity. The faithful still hung on their every word, but with Rattle And Hum—a double album and companion to their feature film—they were in danger of wearing out their welcome.
Like the film, the album began simply as a collection of live recordings produced by Jimmy Iovine, who’d done the same on Under A Blood Red Sky. But as the project ballooned and the band’s fascination with American rock icons grew, the album turned into less of a soundtrack than a follow-up to The Joshua Tree, to which it sadly pales.
The live tracks are performed well, as long as you can stand Bono’s extrapolations. “Helter Skelter” and “All Along The Watchtower” are unnecessary covers, but “Pride” and “Bullet The Blue Sky” are a little better. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” is augmented by a gospel choir, but based on the film footage, it’s tough to tell if they actually appeared onstage with the band, or were grafted on in the studio. “Silver And Gold” makes its first appearance on a U2 album, though the B-side and Sun City versions are preferable.
The new songs are another odd mix. The Edge sings a poem called “Van Diemen’s Land”, with a voice that sounds uncannily like Don Johnson. “Hawkmoon 269” and “Love Rescue Me” are too-long collaborations with Bob Dylan. “Angel Of Harlem” is little more than namedropping of references Bono doesn’t understand, but somehow it was a hit. Equally baffling is the popularity of “When Love Comes To Town”, a two-chord lumber written for and featuring B.B. King, who’s obviously a good sport. “God Part II” is another rushed list, written both in response to John Lennon’s song of the same name and the recent trash biography by Albert Goldman. At least there’s some relief with “Heartland”, a Joshua Tree outtake that thankfully revives the Eno/Lanois sound, and the closing “All I Want Is You” has a sweep and passion that almost makes up for what has gone before.
Rattle And Hum seemed so much more important at the time, but the excitement didn’t last. They were getting too big, and something needed to be done if they were going to remain relevant.

U2 Rattle And Hum (1988)—2

1 comment:

  1. U2 is one of my favorite bandes ever because they combine great music with a great message.

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