Rattle and Hum

From Academic Kids

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Rattle and Hum refers to both a motion picture about the band U2 and its companion album, documenting the band's 1987 tour of the United States and its exploration into American music.

The movie is a rockumentary, released in theaters in 1988 and on video in 1989. It was produced by Michael Hamlyn and directed by Phil Joanou. It incorporates live footage with studio outtakes and band interviews. It is criticized for being overwrought and pretentious and for attempting to elevate the band into the rock pantheon by paying tribute to (and playing with) their musical heroes. Nevertheless, fans regard it as a solid concert film that finds the jovial band members somewhat overwhelmed by the sudden success The Joshua Tree brought them.

The album is a hodgepodge of live material and new studio recordings that further the band's experimentation with American music styles and recognize many of their musical influences. It was produced by Jimmy Iovine and also released in 1988 (see 1988 in music). Because of its chaotic presentation and its unfortunate placement between the much more groundbreaking The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby, it is one of the more overlooked albums in their catalogue. Still, it has sold nearly ten million copies worldwide and earned the band its first number one single in the UK, "Desire."

Due to the poor reception of Rattle and Hum, the band announced at one of their last tour dates in the eighties that they needed to go away for a while to "dream it all up again." Many fans feared the band was going to split up, which it nearly did. However, instead, the band took a drastic change in direction with 1991's Achtung Baby.


Studio recordings

Most of the tracks on the album pay homage in some way to the rootsy influences the band discovered while recording 1987's The Joshua Tree.

The album opens with a live cover of "Helter Skelter" (which Bono infamously introduces as "a song Charles Manson stole from The Beatles...we're stealing it back"). It also has a live version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," which can be seen as a dual tribute to Dylan and to Jimi Hendrix, who popularized the song with his own blistering rendition. Aside from the covers, a couple of songs were written for other artists. "Angel of Harlem" is a vivacious, horn-filled tribute to Billie Holiday. The bass-heavy "God Part II" is a sequel of sorts to John Lennon's "God," his stark denunciation of everything from Elvis Presley to Jesus Christ.

The songs are also musically in line with the predecessors they honor. The punchy lead single, "Desire," for instance, sports a Bo Diddley beat. "Love Rescue Me" (featuring co-author Bob Dylan on vocals) and the live performance of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (recorded with a church choir) are gospel songs. "When Love Comes To Town" is a blues rocker featuring B.B. King on guitar and vocals.

All of the studio tracks except "Heartland" were recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, where Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, and others also recorded.

Live performances

Most of the live footage is black-and-white indoor concert footage from the band's Denver, Colorado show on November 8th, 1987 or outdoor concert footage from the band's Tempe, Arizona show on December 20, 1987.

The performance of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" is from the band's impromptu "Save the Yuppies" concert in San Francisco, California on November 11, 1987. The video intersperses the performance of the song with footage from the band's performance of "Pride" from the same show, where Bono spray-painted "Rock and Roll Stops the Traffic" on a sculpture outside a building. This caused a bit of controversy, and ultimately, the band paid to repair the damage and publicly apologized for the incident.

"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" is from the band's New York City show on September 28, 1987 and features the New Voices of Freedom, a gospel choir.

During "Silver and Gold," Bono explains that the song is an attack on apartheid.

"Sunday Bloody Sunday" is from the Denver show, which was performed on the day that a bomb killed thirteen parade-goers in the Irish town of Enniskillen. As the band went into a long musical break, Bono condemned the violence with an emotional cry of "Fuck the revolution!" and led the crowd in a brief chant of "No more! No more!"

Track listings


  1. "Helter Skelter" (live) (3:07)
  2. "Van Diemen's Land" (3:05)
  3. "Desire" (2:59)
  4. "Hawkmoon 269" (6:22)
  5. "All Along the Watchtower" (live) (4:24)
  6. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (live) (5:53)
  7. "[Freedom For My People]" (0:38)
  8. "Silver and Gold" (live) (5:49)
  9. "Pride (In the Name of Love)" (live) (4:27)
  10. "Angel of Harlem" (3:49)
  11. "Love Rescue Me" (6:24)
  12. "When Love Comes To Town" (4:15)
  13. "Heartland" (5:03)
  14. "God Part II" (3:15)
  15. "[The Star-Spangled Banner]" (0:43)
  16. "Bullet the Blue Sky" (live) (5:36)
  17. "All I Want is You" (6:30)


  1. "Helter Skelter" (live)
  2. "Van Diemen's Land"
  3. "Desire" (demo)
  4. "Exit" / "Gloria" (live)
  5. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (rehearsal)
  6. "[Freedom For My People]"
  7. "Silver and Gold" (live)
  8. "Angel of Harlem" (demo)
  9. "All Along the Watchtower" (live)
  10. "In God's Country" (live)
  11. "When Love Comes To Town" (rehearsal/live/recital)
  12. "Heartland"
  13. "Bad" / "Ruby Tuesday" / "Sympathy for the Devil" (live)
  14. "Where the Streets Have No Name" (live)
  15. "MLK" (live)
  16. "With or Without You" (live)
  17. "[The Star-Spangled Banner]" / "Bullet the Blue Sky" (live)
  18. "Running To Stand Still" (live)
  19. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (live)
  20. "Pride (In the Name of Love)" (live)
  21. "All I Want Is You"

Music by U2, words by Bono, except:

"Desire," "Angel of Harlem," "When Love Comes To Town," and "All I Want Is You" were released as singles.

All tracks were produced by Jimmy Iovine, except "Heartland," a left-over from The Joshua Tree that was produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois.


The album also features a number of guest performers:

  • B.B. King--guitar and vocals on "When Love Comes To Town"
  • Bob Dylan--Hammond organ on "Hawkmoon 269," vocals on "Love Rescue Me"
  • The New Voices of Freedom--vocals on "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"
  • The Memphis Horns--horns on "Angel of Harlem" and "Love Rescue Me"
  • Benmont Tench--Hammond organ on "All I Want Is You"

Lovetown Tour

The album was supported by the Lovetown Tour, a limited tour of Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and Japan. It can be seen as an extension of the Joshua Tree Tour since it purposely played locations that tour missed.

B.B. King toured with the band and played the first set each night. At the end of U2's set, B.B. King and his band joined them for a short encore.

See also

External links



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