Quick Review (LP): Rattle and Hum by U2

Rattle and Hum
Island; 1988

My Rating: C (53/100)

Best Tracks: "Desire", "Angel of Harlem", "All I Want Is You", "Van Diemen’s Land", "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (live)"

The sound of a band losing the plot.


  • U2 is often accused of trying to inherit The Beatles’ mantle with their cover of "Helter Skelter" opening this record. However, the biggest problem with their cover is that it sort of sucks.
  • "Van Diemen’s Land" is a harrowing little sleeper, isn’t it? Really nice stuff from The Edge.
  • "Desire" is the punchiest tune they’ve written since "I Will Follow."
  • "Hawkmoon 269" is okay. Nothing particularly special in my book. The gospel singers are a little cheesy.
  • Their cover of "All Along The Watchtower" is without vision and forgettable.
  • The live version of "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For" is really nice. The gospel choir takes it in a different direction, but really captures the essence of the song.
  • "Silver and Gold" wasn’t even good in the studio. It doesn’t stand a chance here.
  • The live version of "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" is decent. Nice singalong. "THE EDGE!!!" Love that part.
  • "Angel of Harlem" is such a great tune. It’s one of the few stellar moments here, a song that really transports you into the hustle and bustle of NYC.
  • "Love Rescue Me" was co-written with Bob Dylan. He can be heard on the track. It’s a decent sort of big city blues number with a horn section to boot.
  • "When Love Comes to Town" is one of the band’s firiest moments. It actually sort of reminds me of REM’s "Orange Crush" in a weird way.
  • "Heartland" is a cool tune. Though not among their greater tracks, it’s a definite highlight here.
  • "God Part II" is supposed to mark the jumping off point into techno for the band. It’s a dud.
  • Don’t really dig "Bullet the Blue Sky" anyway, so why would I like it live?
  • As simple as it is, "All I Want Is You" is prime U2.
  • The thing is, if they had cut all the filler, U2 might have had a decent (though still inferior) companion to The Joshua Tree on their hands. See below for my thoughts on a tracklisting.
  • Though it contains a handful of great tunes, Rattle and Hum is the work of band on the verge of nuking the fridge. As a film, it’s actually pretty enjoyable, but the record itself is confusing. It’s not an enjoyable listen from start to finish, and many of the tracks are questionable as anything other than interesting outtakes or incidental music. Towards the end of the Lovetown tour, Bono would famously tell the crowds that U2 needed to go away and "dream it all up again." Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Cohesion (4/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (2/5)
Songs (3.5/5)

My Rattle and Hum tracklist
1. Hawkmoon 269
2. Desire
3. Van Diemen’s Land
4. Silver and Gold (The Joshua Tree version)
5. Angel of Harlem
6. When Love Comes to Town
7. Love Rescue Me
8. Heartland
9. God part II
10. All I Want Is You

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