Rattle And Hum, what can I say? One of the seminal moments of my life. This is supposed to be a review of the album, not the movie, but they are clearly so intertwined that I find it hard to separate them. If I write here about the album but say things about the movie, please forgive me, and vice versa when I get to a post about the movie.
The album is a mix of live songs and new recordings, and because of that it tends to feel a little disjointed. We’re not listening to something purely live, a concert album, and we’re not listening to some fresh new music. Not only that but the mix is throughout the album, it’s not like they did a side one that is live and a side two that is recorded. The running order is similar to but not the same as the movie, there are three songs (Hawkmoon, Love Rescue Me and God Part II) that appear on the album but not the movie. On the other hand, there aren’t any new songs that are on the movie but not the album, although some of the versions are different.
So what’s the deal with that? Why produce both? I don’t know, and I don’t know why it is so mixed up. It’s not like they’re simulating a show mixed with new music that they hadn’t played live at the time. The running order for the album is disjointed, and not just the live/recorded mix, but there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason for the order. There is a little bit of songs going together, the segment from Love Rescue Me to God Part II works pretty well, but in general it feels like I’m pinging back and forth like a pinball.
The album had a interesting mix of people on it, perhaps more guests than on any other U2 album. BB King was the highlight of course, along with Bob Dylan hiding in the back a little, but also various backing musicians like the gospel choir on Still Haven’t Found, the guys who sang Freedom For My People, and the horns and trumpets on Angel Of Harlem. The band was doing their tour of the US, looking at various historic musicians and in some ways trying to emulate them. I think they succeeded, certainly from my point of view, in exposing some of those singers to the U2 audience, but I can see how there was a backlash against them for it. At the time they were not in that level of superstardom that people thought, and by taking the approach they did, they took away from themselves a little. But now, knowing how huge the band has become since, I think you could say that what they did worked for them, and for the musical history they were looking at. It all works out in the end.
I have Rattle And Hum rated a little above average, and that also puts it a little above average in terms of U2 albums. Remember I rate fairly harshly though, so I’ll reiterate that an average U2 album is, for me, the equivalent of the best albums for anyone else.
My rating for Rattle And Hum: 5.7 / 10