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HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon December 11, 2000
Rattle & Hum is the soundtrack to the band's documentary on their 1987 tour through America. The album is a mix of live tracks and studio recordings. The album takes on an American sound to it as the band traveled through the States visiting such places as Harlem, Graceland & Sun Studios. "Angel Of Harlem" is a tribute to Billie Holliday and the band shows they've got some soul with the song's stirring horn section. "When Love Comes To Town" is a duet with blues legend B.B. King and he lets loose with some terrific guitar playing. "God Part II" is the band's sequel to John Lennon's "God" from his Plastic Ono Band album. Much like the original, U2 question their own beliefs and the beliefs about them. "Desire" is a blistering song and Bono's harmonica work is impressive. "Van Dieman's Land", "Hawkmoon 269" and the appropriately titled "Heartland" find the band playing sounds with a folky, Midwestern vibe. "All I Want Is You" closes the album with a powerful beauty. The live tracks include a gospelized version of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", a take on the Beatles "Helter Skelter" in which Bono adds one of his more famous lines "three chords and a dream", a simmering take of their anti-apartheid song "Silver & Gold". "Bullet The Blue Sky" shows all the power and force of the band on stage. It opens with a snippet of Jimi Hendrix's take of "The Star Spangled Banner" and then merges into a booming Larry Mullin drum beat. Adam Clayton plays an extremely heavy bass while Bono expands on his sermon in the middle of the song and The Edge's guitar soars up and down. The critics dismissed this album when it first came out as bombastic and egotistical, but that probably had a lot to do with the film. U2 had been untouchable up to that and the project gave them a chance to jump on them. The album is uneven in places and the film is precocious at times, but their overall passion and feeling override any flaws and ten years later those feelings are still strong.
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on October 20, 2000
U2 were completely panned by the press and some hardcore U2 fans for 'Rattle & Hum' (1988), which is purported to be U2's ill-fated egocentric exploration into American music. Leaving pretentiousness in the eyes of the beholder, a lot of people liked this record, a mix of studio songs and live tracks from 'The Joshua Tree' tour and for good reason. Here's a song-by-song:
1. "Helter Skelter" [Live]. OK, the ego does get a bit out of hand here, but this is one of the standout cover tunes.
2. "Van Diemen's Land". The Edge takes vocals on this nice ode to the working man which is abruptly cut off in mid-verse.
3. "Desire". The first single, an obvious musical tribute to blues legend Bo Diddley, continues to be one of their most popular and infectious songs.
4. "Hawkmoon 269". Although there is some lyrical help from Bob Dylan, this is one of the studio tracks that really does not work.
5. "All Along the Watchtower" [Live]. An uninspired cover which is memorable only if you saw the movie.
6. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" [Live]. With embellishments by a real gospel choir, the song is performed the way it was meant to be.
7. "Freedom for My People". This is just a snippet of a street performer.
8. "Silver and Gold" [Live]. A great live version of a non-LP track, seethingly delivered by Bono toward an apathetic American audience.
9. "Pride (in the Name of Love)" [Live]. What live record would be complete without the consumate U2 anthem.
10. "Angel of Harlem". As one of the songs recorded at the historic Sun Studios, complete with a horn section, this lyrical ode to Billie Holiday is a U2 classic.
11. "Love Rescue Me". With the accompanyment of Bob Dylan, this one never really picks up.
12. "When Love Comes to Town". Although many U2 fans did not appreciate the prominent vocals and guitar of B.B. King, the lyrics are "fantastic" (as the King puts it in the movie), and if you love the blues . . .
13. "Heartland". You can almost see the Mississippi going by on this song, a mood piece which works much better than "Love Rescue Me".
14. "God Part II". A great rocker about contradiction and a lyrical and musical prequel to U2's "reinvention" in the 1990s.
15. "Bullet the Blue Sky" [Live]. With a recorded intro of Jimi Hendrix doing "Star Spangled Banner", this is the consumate version of this song.
16. "All I Want Is You". Although it seems a bit out of place on this record, this is simply one of the best U2 ballads ever.
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on November 28, 2004
This was THE album of 1988. U2 had toured extensively and conquered the rock world in 1987, and this 17-track album was a mix of live tracks from the Joshua Tree tour, studio demo type stuff, a couple of bits of sound they found on their travels (Freedom For My People) and a few really good new songs. I happen to love all the new songs on here, and the live stuff is also pretty good, though having seen the Rattle&Hum movie, they left off the two highlight live tracks: Sunday Bloody Sunday and Where The Streets Have No Name.

My rating of the new studio songs:

Helter Skelter- A raucous Beatles hard-rock cover version opens this disc (and the movie) stunningly.

Van Diemen's Land - This emotional folk ballad is about the leaving of the Old World for the New. It has special relevance for we Tasmanians as Van Diemen's Land was the old name for Tasmania when it was a harsh, brutal European penal colony in the 19th Century.

Desire - Driving 3-minute rock at its basic best. It's all about the energy and the passion. A great #1 hit single

Hawkmoon 269 - densely packed thunderous rock song, full of yearning intensity. Really good.

Silver And Gold - makes its first appearance on a U2 album as a live cut. Dates from U2's Amnesty crusade in 1986.

Angel Of Harlem - I love this tribute to the giants of 20th Century American music. Works even better live in concert as a guaranteed singalong favourite.

Love Rescue Me - slow building, guitar based blues-styled song.

Heartland - My favourite song on the album. This is a wonderful U2 song evoking glorious imagery and feelings about the Heartland of America the band had been discovering during their 80's tours of the USA.

God Part II - "You glorify the past when the future dries up" Here, U2 writes a sequel to John Lennon's famous track God. It's really good too.

When Love Comes To Town - Strong imagery, impassioned vocals and inimitable slide guitar from master musician B.B King make this a truly memorable song

All I Want Is You - it is U2's most direct love song - a classic hit and a fitting way to end an epic album

5 stars from me
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on December 5, 2003
When U2 made Rattle and Hum, they confused people. They started out with a live album to go with their concert film, but then they added some new live tracks --- one of their own (Silver and Gold) and one by the Beatles (Helter Skelter). They cut 6 or 7 new songs. Some of them were with guest stars like BB King and Bob Dylan. Then the Edge got a lead vocal. Then they added a bit of Jimi Hendrix playing the Star Spangled Banner.
Okay guys. Are you really wondering why people were confused and/or disappointed? You have to commend the band for taking a few chances, of course. They took a perfectly good live album and squeezed an EP of "American roots music" songs into it. They thought it would work, but it didn't.
The whole thing would be an afterthought, but this is U2. When they make an album between "proper" albums, they have trouble making it modest. It happened again with Zooropa: After a big tour, they tried to make a little post-tour CD of outtakes and experiments, but it grew into a full-sized album.
In the end, just about everyone likes half of Rattle and Hum. But few people agree on exactly which half. I prefer the studio tracks that either sound like Joshua Tree outtakes (like Heartland) or the noisy stuff like God Part 2. I don't have any use for live versions of the Joshua Tree songs. They're overproduced and dull. Fans will always come back to this CD for their favorite parts. Non-fans can probably live without it.
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on March 23, 2002
When I listened to this as a kid I remember thinking just how unbearably pretentious is was. The whole message of the album seemed to be saying 'look at us we've arrived, we can jam with the big boys'. I picked up a CD copy of it recently by chance and was amazed to discover that behind the unbearable Bono there was actually a very good album musically. With age I have become slightly more tolerant of self-promotion. I guess U2 were right at this stage to feel they had 'arrived', after all they had become one of the biggest bands ever. I still hate the way they think they can speak for the Beatles- (I mean 'God Part II' give us a break!!!). The opening line of the album 'Here is a song that Charles Manson stole from the Beatles, we're going to steal it back' is still one of the most cringe-worthy in rock history. What makes it worse is that it leads into a totally pointless cover version of 'Helter-Skelter' which tries unsuccesfully to measure up to the original. Beyond such weak beginnings and the fact that many of the tracks are just reworkings of earlier U2 songs there are actually some inspired pieces on here. 'When Love Comes to Town', 'Angel of Harlem', 'Bullet the Blue Sky', 'Desire', 'Love Rescue me' and 'All I want' are all extremely powerful...
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on October 1, 2003
Rattle & Hum is a second-tier U2 album. It pales in comparision to both its predecessor (The Joshua Tree) and its follow-up (Achtung Baby), plus War, Zooropa, and ATYCLB. That said, there is still plenty to enjoy from Rattle & Hum.
I find myself primarily listening to the new studio songs instead of the live material. With the exception of "Pride (In the Name of Love)", the live songs do little to challenge the songs' original versions. The new songs are the winners here: the haunting "Van Diemen's Land" and the singles "Desire" and "Angel of Harlem" stand with the band's best work. This is not to mention "All I Want Is You", which is my favorite U2 song and a brilliant way to close out both the album and the 1980s incarnation of the band. All in all, the live stuff can be overwhelmingly pretentious, but the studio material makes the album worth it for any true U2 fan.
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on December 11, 2002
U2 were completely panned by the press and some hardcore U2 fans for 'Rattle & Hum' (1988), which is purported to be U2's ill-fated egocentric exploration into American music. Leaving pretentiousness in the eyes of the beholder, a lot of people liked this record, a mix of studio songs and live tracks from 'The Joshua Tree' tour and for good reason. Here's a song-by-song:
1. "Helter Skelter" [Live]. OK, the ego does get a bit out of hand here, but this is one of the standout cover tunes.
2. "Van Diemen's Land". The Edge takes vocals on this nice ode to the working man which is, unfortunately, abruptly cut off in mid-verse on the record.
3. "Desire". The first single, an obvious musical tribute to blues legend Bo Diddley, continues to be one of their most popular and infectious songs.
4. "Hawkmoon 269". Although there is some lyrical help from Bob Dylan, this is one of the studio tracks that really does not work.
5. "All Along the Watchtower" [Live]. An uninspired cover of the Dylan classic which is memorable only if you saw the movie.
6. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" [Live]. With embellishments by a real gospel choir, the song is performed the way it was meant to be, albeit a bit over the top.
7. "Freedom for My People". This is just a snippet of a street performer.
8. "Silver and Gold" [Live]. A great live version of a non-LP track, seethingly delivered by Bono toward an apathetic American audience.
9. "Pride (in the Name of Love)" [Live]. What live record would be complete without the consumate U2 anthem?
10. "Angel of Harlem". As one of the songs recorded at the historic Sun Studios, complete with a horn section, this lyrical ode to Billie Holiday is a U2 classic.
11. "Love Rescue Me". With the vocal accompanyment of Bob Dylan, you would think this one would be great. However, it falls flat.
12. "When Love Comes to Town". Although many U2 fans did not appreciate the prominent vocals and guitar of B.B. King, the lyrics are "fantastic" (as the King puts it in the movie), and if you love the blues . . .
13. "Heartland". You can almost see the Mississippi going by in a bus window listening to this tune, an evocative mood piece which works much better than "Love Rescue Me".
14. "God Part II". A great rocker about contradiction and a lyrical and musical prequel to U2's "reinvention" in the 1990s.
15. "Bullet the Blue Sky" [Live]. With a recorded intro of Jimi Hendrix doing "Star Spangled Banner", this is the consumate version of this song, which seems to take on a new context with each passing tour.
16. "All I Want Is You". Although it seems a bit out of place on this record, this is simply one of the best U2 ballads ever.
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on December 3, 1999
I have listened to album more than any other U2 album. God Part II and the live version of Bullet the Blue Sky are two of the best songs they have ever done.
I don't see where the "egotism" thing that the critics railed about comes through. To me this album simply shows their love for American rock and roll culture, which is also amply documented on The Unforgettable Fire and other albums.
The thing that pisses me off though is that U2 seems to have bought into what the critics say! Stand up for yourselves, guys! Tell the critics to stick it...well, you know.
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on November 28, 2000
I've been playing "Rattle and Hum" for years,and still enjoy it.My all time favorite cut is "Angle of Harlem," about the great Billy Holiday.This would have to be my number 1 best record from U2.I've never heard such a fantastic singer like Bono,and he sounds even better on the live numbers."Pride,In the Name of Love," is almost like a duet with the audience.Everyone praising the late Dr.Martin Luther King.The Beatles,"Helter Skelter," is another fantastic live cut.The single released from the album,"Desire," was a huge hit, but wait untill you get to the last song,"All I want is you," with Tom Petty.This number is Brilliant,with a beutifull String arrangment by Van Dyke Parks,who worked on Carly Simon's album,"Film Noir." Every type of music is on this record,from the soft ballads,to the hardest rock songs ever.If your a U2 fan,you have to get "Rattle and Hum" for your collection.
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VINE VOICEon February 28, 2006
Review number 101. Superb follow-up to their 1987 masterpiece 'Joshua Tree' album. Liked both the movie as well as the awesome soundtrack here. As huge a fan of live releases that I am, I simply could not get enough of this CD's live tunes, "Helter Skelter", "All Along The Watchtower", the (sometimes) tear-jerker "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and "Bullet The Blue Sky". The studio tracks are equally as good. Even after umpteen years of it's original release, 'Rattle And Hum' is MORE than able to stand the harsh test of time. An absolute must-have.
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