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on 28 August 2007
Most of this 1988 release was recorded during the band's Joshua Tree tour. It is often derided for marking the moment U2 began to balloon out of control, veering into something near parody. To be fair, there are several highly inspired moments including "Desire," "Heartland," and "All I Want Is You." An uneven listen.

Rattle and Hum is an expression of U2's urge to have it both ways. A sprawling double album that incorporates live tracks, cover versions, collaborations, snippets of other people's music and a passage from a taped interview, the record is an obvious effort to clear the conceptual decks and lower expectations following the multiplatinum success of The Joshua Tree.

But ambition has always been U2's gift and curse, and the band clearly doesn't feel fully comfortable with its sights lowered. Consequently, if amid the rather studied chaos here, you feel moved to draw comparisons with masterpieces of excess like the Beatles' White Album or the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street, you can be sure that Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. won't mind a bit.

This record doesn't quite ascend to those heights, but U2 does win half the prize. In its inclusiveness and rollicking energy, Rattle and Hum caps the story of U2's rise from Dublin obscurity to international superstardom on a raucous, celebratory note. At the same time, it closes off none of the options the band might want to pursue for its next big move - and, possibly, the album even opens a few doors.

Despite Bono's insistence in the blistering "God Part II" that "I don't believe in the 60's in the golden age of pop/You glorify the past when the future dries up," Rattle and Hum is in large part a paean to the tradition of Sixties artists that U2 reveres. "God Part II" itself is Bono's personal extension of "God," the dramatic track on Plastic Ono Band in which John Lennon shed the Sixties, his identity as a Beatle and all the idols he had worshiped. Bono's update includes a pointed attack on Albert Goldman, whose book The Lives of John Lennon paints a bitter, unflattering portrait of the ex-Beatle: "I don't believe in Goldman his type like a curse/Instant karma's gonna get him if I don't get him first."

Rattle and Hum evokes the Beatles right off the bat when it opens with a corrosive live version of "Helter Skelter," a song that originally appeared on the White Album. "This song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles; we're stealin' it back," Bono announces portentously before U2 tears into the tune.

Bob Dylan sings on one track (the meandering ballad "Love Rescue Me," which Dylan also co-wrote) and plays organ on another ("Hawkmoon 269"). He is further acknowledged when U2 ignites a live rendition of "All Along the Watchtower." Jimi Hendrix, the third member of U2's Sixties trinity, is resurrected when the version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" he performed at Woodstock introduces U2's searing live take on "Bullet the Blue Sky."

U2 certainly holds its own while flirting with the greats, but Rattle and Hum is most enjoyable when the band relaxes and allows itself to stretch without self-consciously reaching for the stars. The New Voices of Freedom choir joins the band...

Track Listings

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
6. 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 II
15. Star Spangled Banner
16. Bullet The Blue Sky
17. All I Want is You
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on 7 June 2011
Somewhere along the extended length of a career, whether you're a writer or filmmaker or musician, you hit a creative peak and along with impulse and self-belief comes the reasoning that you can do no wrong. On the whole critics are quite good at identifying that creative peak in artists too, and the reviews and analyses that follow usually move in one of two directions: either it's your masterwork and will never be bettered; or you've become bloated, self-indulgent and think that if you write, direct or sing the telephone directory, people will go out and buy it in droves. Well, if The Joshua Tree was U2's peak (and arguably their re-invention with 1991's Achtung Baby runs it close!) Rattle and Hum was by-and-large, as reviews have noted, their comedown. A mishmash of ideas said the critics, a potpourri of studio outtakes and ill-considered "classic" covers that U2 had no right touching. And then there was that "discovery-of-America" odyssey that the accompanying film turned out to be. Hindsight is always useful in these instances and now history is being somewhat kinder to Rattle and Hum - possibly because in comparison to Pop-era U2 in the late '90s, this record now looks like Sgt Pepper, Pet Sounds and Exile on Main Street all in one! There are vignettes here - Van Dieman's Land, Hawkmoon 269, the Dylan collaboration, Love Rescue Me - that don't really work, and one can still accept that All Along the Watchtower isn't quite Hendrix in his pomp. But the thrust of Desire, the grandeur of All I Want is You and the sheer joy of re-creating Memphis-sound rock and soul with Angel of Harlem (surely a bona-fide U2 classic?!) makes this a record worth re-visiting every now and then. Add to that a few gems such as Heartland and the angry, Achtung Baby prelude, God PtII, and you have some lasting legacies here. And oh yes, that film. When it moves from the somewhat self-conscious visitations to Graceland and Sun Studios (and even there the "live" take of Angel of Harlem is pretty scorching) to the live footage, for a band to leave off the album (which was after all there to shift the units, not the film which got a limited and short-lived theatrical release) such definitive live versions of With or Without You, Where the Streets Have no Name and a quite brilliant Exit, is to return to that creative peak theory and the utter self-belief in one's material. If it doesn't fit the record's intent, the fans will accept it, they seemed to say. Of much more importance anyway and featured on both record and film, is the apocalyptic rendition of Bullet the Blue Sky which sums up the time, context, and history for this album. Bono - already on the way to being the world's guardian, missionary musician - had travelled to El Salvador and seen what the American-backed right-wing government was doing to its people and at a time when Ronald Reagan was being hailed as one of America's great presidents and praised for bringing about the beginning of the end of the Cold War. As U2 toured America through 1987 and 88 and realised how little the people knew of their government's Central and South American foreign policy, the song took on ever more pleading and ferocious overtones. The final lines said it all and complicate far more the relationship with the US at this time that the band had, which people have often been quick to see as fawning and overly reverential. "Pounding the women and children, who run, into the arms of America" sang Bono breathlessly at the end. U2's America was grandiose and memorable, but it was also frightening and ignoble. Any record that can capture even a fleeting moment of life going on around it such as this one, therefore deserves your attention.
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on 15 March 2000
This is a tribute album which U2 at the time of its release were heavily criticised for, but what critics fail to see is the outstanding use the band make of their roots in songs like "Heartland", "Love rescue me" and "Hawkmoon 269". What can be seen is an intensity carried on from the Joshua Tree, with an influence of blues, folk and country, which deliver beautiful melodies and powerful sounds. U2 were criticised for not delivering anything new, but how can songs like "All I want is You" and "Desire" not be considered original material. There is something about U2 in this album, Larry Mullen's intensity behind the drums, Adam Clayton's heartbeat sensation, Edge's atmospheric echoes and Bono's even stronger commitment to reaching his listeners, creates something enourmous, something which bursts out of your speakears, which renders this piece of music as original and as intense as U2 meant it to be.
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on 21 June 2016
I liked the album when it was release, but got bored after a while and sold it. U2 has been cooking the same old stew for too long and there is hardly an album after Achtung Baby that is still enjoyable. Rattle and Hum is one of them.
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on 3 September 2015
good buy for the price, the last song on the cd skips a bit but for what I paid for it I don't mind, I polished the scratch out and it is fine, I would buy from them again as it did say on the copy I bought "minor scratches"
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I can't understand why any U2 aficionado would criticise RATTLE AND HUM. I have THE JOSHUA TREE too, which seems to be everyone's favourite, but this one is surely on a par. Well, it's all a matter of opinion, and mine is that it is! Seventeen tracks, no less, and some classics among them. For me the best include Desire, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, Pride (In the Name of Love), Angel of Harlem, God Part II, and the best of a fantastic lot: All I Want Is You. Even if you removed all these outstanding songs the album would still be pretty decent. 25 years down the line and this one album contains some of the best rock music in an entire generation. Forget the 'Americanist' allegations, the moaning about the accompanying feature film - this is U2 at their best. A landmark musical creation by any standard, and an indicator of what made U2 one of the greatest rock bands on earth.
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on 5 April 2016
An album that is often criticised, I personally really like it. The live versions of songs like Bad, Sunday Bloody Sunday and Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For are the best versions available. It loses one star because inexplicably it doesn't have the live version of With Or Without You, which is fantastic and is on the DVD.
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on 14 November 2013
personally i think U2 are a massively overrated band with the exception of two albums ... this is one of them

this is them at their best and they blow everything else before or since away ( except maybe the Joshua tree album)
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on 29 March 2012
Ok, so I know that everyone thinks Joshua Tree is the best U2 album, and it certainly is amazing too but Rattle and Hum is my favourite. To me it's an album that everyone must own, whether they're a U2 fan or not. It's full of amazing tracks, covers and collaborations. Amazing.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 September 2012
I don't usually buy live albums, but only six of the seventeen tracks on `Rattle & Hum' are actually performed live. Nine of the remaining eleven are brand new. The other two are short extracts from other performers, but what these two confirm is that this is very much an American album.

Soul, blues, and gospel are here married to rock in a bigamous relationship that only sometimes produces healthy offspring. The American theme is relentless but implicit: Dylan and King times two (Martin Luther and BB); Billie Holiday and Hendrix; Memphis and Harlem; route 66, dollar bills, and the Star Spangled Banner; Hawkmoon and Death Valley. Like an introduction to all that is to follow, the sleevenotes open with the lyrics to `Heartland' with "the delta sun" burning "bright and violent".

In `God Part II' - presumably a critical homage to Lennon and his fans - Bono sings, "You glorify the past when the future dries up". This can also be seen as an oblique critique of the future of the group and its own fans. The previous album, `The Joshua Tree' reached a summit that might be either followed by a fall or followed by a plateau, or even followed by a higher triumph. `Rattle and Hum' is to me a fall. So much disappoints in this American love-and-hate-and-love-in as U2 attempt to seal their transatlantic credentials. Thankfully, after a long hiatus, the group would find for their next album a new inspiration from a different heartland: Germany.
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