Rattle and Hum

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Rattle and Hum
Studio album with live tracks by U2
Released 10 October 1988
Recorded

1987–1988 in US and Ireland

Genre Rock, roots rock[1]
Length 72:27
Label Island
Producer Jimmy Iovine
U2 chronology
The Joshua Tree
(1987)
Rattle and Hum
(1988)
Achtung Baby
(1991)
Singles from Rattle and Hum
  1. "Desire"
    Released: September 1988
  2. "Angel of Harlem"
    Released: December 1988
  3. "When Love Comes to Town"
    Released: April 1989
  4. "All I Want Is You"
    Released: June 1989

Rattle and Hum is the sixth studio album by rock band U2, and a companion rockumentary film directed by Phil Joanou, both released in 1988. The film and the album feature live recordings, covers, and new songs. To a greater extent than on their previous album, The Joshua Tree, the band explores American roots music and incorporates elements of blues rock, folk rock, and gospel music in their sound. The motion picture was filmed primarily in the United States in late 1987 during The Joshua Tree Tour and it features their experiences with American music. Although Rattle and Hum was intended to represent the band paying tribute to rock legends, some critics accused U2 of trying to place themselves amongst the ranks of these artists. While critical reception was mixed, the album was a commercial success, reaching the number one spot in several countries and selling 14 million copies.[2]

History[edit]

"I was very keen on the idea of going wide at a time like that, just seeing how big this thing could get. I had always admired Colonel Parker and Brian Epstein for realising that music could capture the imagination of the whole world."

—U2 manager Paul McGuinness, explaining his original motivation to make a movie.[3]

While in Hartford during the 1987 The Joshua Tree Tour, U2 met film director Phil Joanou who made an unsolicited pitch to the band to make a feature-length documentary about the tour. Joanou suggested they hire Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, or George Miller to direct the film. Joanou met the band again in Dublin to discuss the plans and again in France in September before the band chose him as director. The movie was originally titled "U2 in the Americas" and the band planned to film in Chicago and Buenos Aires later in the year.[4] It was later decided that the Chicago venue wasn't suitable, and instead U2 used the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver to film. Following the success of Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky, which had been filmed in Denver four years earlier, the band hoped that "lightning might strike twice".[5] With production problems and estimated costs of $1.2 million the band cancelled the plans for December concerts in South America. At the suggestions of concert promoter, Barry Fey, the band instead booked the Sun Devil Stadium in Arizona.[5]

The movie is a rockumentary, which was initially financed by the band and intended to be screened in a small number of cinemas as an independent film.[citation needed] After going over budget, the film was bought by Paramount Pictures and released in theatres in 1988, before arriving on video in 1989.[citation needed] It was produced by Michael Hamlyn and directed by Phil Joanou. Paul Wasserman served as the publicist.[6] It incorporates live footage with studio outtakes and band interviews. The album is a mix of live material and new studio recordings that furthers the band's experimentation with American music styles and recognises many of their musical influences. It was produced by Jimmy Iovine and also released in 1988.

The title, Rattle and Hum, is taken from a lyric from "Bullet the Blue Sky", the fourth track on The Joshua Tree; the image used for the album cover and movie poster, depicting Bono shining a spotlight on Edge as he plays, is from the live performance of "Bullet the Blue Sky" recorded in the film and album.

Studio recordings[edit]

The album opens with a live cover of The Beatles' "Helter Skelter". Its inclusion on the album was intended by the band to reflect the confusion of The Joshua Tree Tour and their new-found superstar status. Bono opens "Helter Skelter" with this statement: "this is a song Charles Manson stole from The Beatles... we're stealing it back".[7]

Bono said "Hawkmoon 269" was in part as a tribute to writer Sam Shepard, who had released a book entitled Hawk Moon. Bono also said that the band mixed the song 269 times. This was thought to be a joke for years until it was recently confirmed by The Edge in U2 by U2, who said that they spent three weeks mixing the song. He also contradicted Bono's assertion about Shepard, saying that Hawkmoon is a place in Rapid City, South Dakota, in the midwestern United States.[8]

The album contains 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 popularised 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 an introduction to the Achtung Baby sound, and is a sequel of sorts to John Lennon's "God", his stark denunciation of everyone from Elvis Presley to Jesus Christ.

The punchy lead single, "Desire", sports a Bo Diddley beat. During the Joshua Tree tour, in mid-November 1987, Bono and Bob Dylan met in Los Angeles; together they wrote a song called "Prisoner of Love" which later became "Love Rescue Me". Dylan sang lead vocals on the original recording, a version which Bono called "astonishing", but Dylan later asked U2 not to use it citing commitments to The Traveling Wilburys.[9] The live performance of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (recorded with a full church choir) is a gospel song. "When Love Comes to Town" is a blues rocker featuring B.B. King on guitar and vocals.

U2 recorded "Angel of Harlem", "Love Rescue Me" and "When Love Comes to Town" at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, where Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and many others also recorded. They also recorded an unreleased version of "She's a Mystery to Me" and Woody Guthrie's "Jesus Christ", which appeared on Folkways: A Vision Shared. The band started writing "Heartland", in 1984 during The Unforgettable Fire sessions, and it was worked on during The Joshua Tree sessions.[10] All of the studio tracks apart from "Heartland" were performed in concert on the Lovetown Tour, which began almost a year after Rattle and Hum's release.

Live performances[edit]

The band chose to film the black-and-white footage over two nights Denver's McNichols Sports Arena on 7 and 8 November 1987. They chose the city following the success of their "Under A Blood Red Sky" video which was filmed in Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver in 1983. "We thought lightning might strike twice" said guitarist, The Edge. The first night's performance was disappointing with Bono finding the cameras infringing on his ability to play to the crowd.[5] The second Denver show was far more successful and seven songs from the show are used in the film, and three on the album.

Hours before the second Denver performance, an IRA bomb killed eleven people at a Remembrance Day ceremony in the Northern Irish town of Enniskillen (see Remembrance Day Bombing). During a performance of "Sunday Bloody Sunday", which appears on the film, Bono condemned the violence in a furious mid-song rant in which he yelled "Fuck the revolution." So powerful was the performance, that the band said they were not sure the song should have been used in the film, and after watching the film, they considered not playing it on future tours.[11]

Colour outdoor concert footage is from the band's Tempe, Arizona shows on 19 December 1987 and 20 December 1987. Tickets were sold for $5.00 each and both nights sold out within days. The set was different each night with the band throwing in some rarely performed songs including, "Out of Control", "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)", "One Tree Hill", and "Mothers of the Disappeared." For the latter, all four members played at the front of the stage, each under a large spotlight.

The performance of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" is from the band's impromptu "Save the Yuppies" concert in Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco, California on 11 November 1987. The video intersperses the performance of the song with footage from the band's performance of "Pride" from the same show, during which Bono spray-painted "Rock and Roll Stops the Traffic" on the Vaillancourt Fountain. This caused a bit of controversy, and ultimately, the band paid to repair the damage and publicly apologised for the incident. The phrase "Rock and Roll Stops the Traffic" reappeared 18 years later in the video "All Because of You" when an unnamed fan appeared with the sign at 1:55 in the video.[12] It also reappeared in February 2009, when the band played on the rooftop of the BBC Radio studios in Langham Place[13]

Dennis Bell, director of New York gospel choir, The New Voices of Freedom, recorded a demo of a gospel version of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For".[14] While in Glasgow in late July during The Joshua Tree Tour, Rob Partridge of Island Records played the demo for the band.[15] In late September, U2 rehearsed with Bell's choir in a Harlem church, and a few days later they performed the song together at U2's Madison Square Garden concert. Footage of the rehearsal is featured in the movie, while the Madison Square Garden performance appears on the album.[16] After the church rehearsal, U2 walked around the Harlem neighbourhood where they come across blues duo, Satan and Adam, playing in the street. A 40-second clip of them playing their composition, "Freedom for My People", appears on both the movie and the album.[17]

During "Silver and Gold", Bono explains that the song is an attack on apartheid. "The Star Spangled Banner" is an excerpt of Jimi Hendrix's famous Woodstock performance in 1969. The noise of the crowd was sampled extensively by The KLF for 'the Stadium House Trilogy' of singles on their 1990 album The White Room.[18]

Alternative live concert footage captured for the film in other cities during the 1987 tour (but ultimately not used for the final cut of the film) included:

  • Foxboro, Massachusetts, Foxboro Stadium, 22 September 1987
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, JFK Stadium, 25 September 1987
  • New York, NY, Madison Square Garden, 28 September 1987
  • Long Island, New York, Rehearsals on a beach, 19 October 1987
  • Boston, Massachusetts, Boston Garden, 18 September 1987 (color footage)

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[19]
The New York Times (unfavourable)[20]
Robert Christgau (B+)[21]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[22]
Sputnikmusic 3/5 stars[23]

After the success of The Joshua Tree, the album received a generally mixed reception. Writing in Rolling Stone, Anthony DeCurtis said, "The album ably demonstrates U2's force but devotes too little attention to the band's vision." The album received an 8/10 marking in the New Musical Express (NME) review from Stuart Baillie, but was controversial as Mark Sinker originally gave it a much poorer review, which was pulled in favour of Baillie's more positive one. Sinker left NME shortly after.[24]

Roger Ebert slammed the film, saying that the concert footage was poorly lit and monotonous, with little use made of the crowds. However, review partner Gene Siskel was more sympathetic, praising the music and finding the footage of the Harlem gospel choir particularly moving.[25]

"Rattle and Hum was conceived as a scrapbook, a memento of that time spent in America on the Joshua Tree tour. It changed when the movie, which was initially conceived of as a low-budget film, suddenly became a big Hollywood affair. That put a different emphasis on the album, which suffered from the huge promotion and publicity, and people reacted against it."[26]

U2's 1987 album The Joshua Tree brought the band critical acclaim, great commercial success, and high exposure, but it was the beginning of a backlash against them.[27] They were accused of being grandiose, over-earnest, and self-righteous.[27] The criticism increased the following year with their continued exploration of American music on Rattle and Hum motion picture and companion album. The film's director Phil Joanou called the picture "pretentious", while critics called the record "misguided and bombastic".[28] Many of them interpreted the band's intended homage to American music legends as an attempt to place themselves as peers with rock's all-time great artists.[29][30][31]

Despite the criticism, the album was a strong seller, continuing U2's burgeoning commercial success. It hit No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 chart, remaining at the top spot for 6 weeks, and reached No. 1 in the UK and Australian charts. In the UK, it sold 360,000 copies in its first week, making it the fastest-selling album to that date (and held the record until the release of Oasis's Be Here Now in 1997).[32] However, the album's sales were a far cry from the massive sales of The Joshua Tree.

In 1989 while at a press tour in Sydney, Australia (where the band was touring with B.B. King and working on demos for the follow-up album Achtung Baby), Bono stated "making movies: that's the nonsense of rock & roll," which Rolling Stone magazine claimed was almost an apology for the film. "Playing shows is the reason we're here" he finished.[33]

The film currently ranks 67% on the critical review collecting website Rotten Tomatoes,[34] meaning that 67% of critics gave the film a positive review.

Album[edit]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Bono, all music composed by U2, except where noted.

No. Title Writer(s) Performer Length
1. "Helter Skelter" (live at Denver, Colorado) Lennon–McCartney (lyrics and music) U2 3:07
2. "Van Diemen's Land"   The Edge (lyrics) U2 3:06
3. "Desire"     U2 2:58
4. "Hawkmoon 269"     U2 6:22
5. "All Along the Watchtower" (live from "Save the Yuppie Free Concert", San Francisco) Bob Dylan (lyrics and music) U2 4:24
6. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (live at Madison Square Garden, New York)   U2 with The New Voices of Freedom 5:53
7. "Freedom for My People"   Sterling Magee, Bobb Robinson and Macie Mabins (lyrics and music) Sterling Magee and Adam Gussow 0:38
8. "Silver and Gold" (live from Denver, Colorado)   U2 5:50
9. "Pride (In the Name of Love)" (live from Denver, Colorado)   U2 4:27
10. "Angel of Harlem"     U2 3:49
11. "Love Rescue Me"   Bono and Bob Dylan (lyrics) U2 with Bob Dylan 6:24
12. "When Love Comes to Town"     U2 with B.B. King 4:14
13. "Heartland"     U2 5:02
14. "God Part II"     U2 3:15
15. "The Star Spangled Banner" (Live) John Stafford Smith (music) Jimi Hendrix 0:43
16. "Bullet the Blue Sky" (live at Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona)   U2 5:37
17. "All I Want Is You"     U2 6:30
Total length:
72:27

Extra tracks[edit]

In addition to the nine studio tracks that comprised one-half of the double album, a number of additional recordings from the Rattle and Hum sessions would be released on various singles and side projects. "Hallelujah Here She Comes" was released as a B-side to "Desire", and "A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel" was released as a B-side to "Angel of Harlem." Covers comprised B-side releases to the rest of the singles off the Rattle and Hum album—an abbreviated cover of Patti Smith's "Dancing Barefoot" would be released as a B-side to "When Love Comes to Town" (the full version would see release on 1994's soundtrack album to Threesome), while "Unchained Melody" and "Everlasting Love" would be released as the B-sides to "All I Want Is You." A cover of "Fortunate Son" recorded with Maria McKee would not be released until 1992's "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" single.

Studio versions of "She's a Mystery to Me" (a Bono/Edge composition that would eventually be recorded and released by Roy Orbison), Bruce Cockburn's "If I Had a Rocket Launcher", and "Can't Help Falling in Love With You", while recorded, have yet to be released. (A solo Bono cover of the Elvis Presley classic would be released on 1992's "Honeymoon in Vegas" album, however.) A cover of the Woody Guthrie song "Jesus Christ" was also recorded during these sessions for eventual inclusion on the cover album Folkways: A Vision Shared. Lastly, a cover of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" was recorded and released for the first A Very Special Christmas album, released at the end of 1987.

Charts and certifications[edit]

Film[edit]

Rattle and Hum
U2r&hfilm.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Phil Joanou
Produced by Michael Hamlyn
Starring Bono
The Edge
Adam Clayton
Larry Mullen, Jr.
Music by Bono
Adam Clayton
Larry Mullen, Jr.
The Edge
Cinematography Robert Brinkmann (Black-and-white footage)
Jordan Cronenweth (Color footage)
Edited by Phil Joanou
Production
company
Midnight Films
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • 27 October 1988 (1988-10-27) (Ireland)
  • 4 November 1988 (1988-11-04) (US)
Running time
98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5,000,000
Box office US$8,600,823
No. Title Writer(s) Performer Length
1. "Helter Skelter" (Live) Lennon–McCartney U2  
2. "Van Diemen's Land"   The Edge U2  
3. "Desire" (Demo) U2 U2  
4. "Exit"/"Gloria" (Live) U2 ("Exit"), Van Morrison ("Gloria") U2  
5. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (Rehearsal) U2 U2 with The New Voices of Freedom  
6. "Freedom for My People"   Adam Gussow and Sterling Magee Sterling Magee and Adam Gussow  
7. "Silver and Gold" (Live) Bono U2  
8. "Angel of Harlem" (Demo) U2 U2  
9. "All Along the Watchtower" (Live) Bob Dylan U2  
10. "In God's Country" (Live) U2 U2  
11. "When Love Comes to Town" (Rehearsal, live, recital medley) Bono U2 with B.B. King  
12. "Heartland"   U2 U2  
13. "Bad"/"Ruby Tuesday"/"Sympathy for the Devil" (Live) U2 ("Bad"), Jagger/Richards ("Ruby Tuesday", "Sympathy for the Devil") U2  
14. "Where the Streets Have No Name" (Live) U2 U2  
15. "MLK" (Live) U2 U2  
16. "With or Without You" (Live) U2 U2  
17. "The Star Spangled Banner" (Excerpt) John Stafford Smith Jimi Hendrix  
18. "Bullet the Blue Sky" (Live) U2 U2  
19. "Running to Stand Still" (Live) Bono U2  
20. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (Live) U2 U2  
21. "Pride (In the Name of Love)" (Live) U2 U2  
22. "All I Want Is You" (Heard over end credits) U2 U2  

Personnel[edit]

Guest performers[edit]

Additional musicians (field recordings and tapes)[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Rattle and Hum > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved 1 August 2008. 
  2. ^ Stokes (2005), p. 78
  3. ^ McGee (2008), p. 105
  4. ^ McGee (2008), pp. 105, 109
  5. ^ a b c McGee (2008), p. 112
  6. ^ "U2: Rattle and Hum (1988) – Full cast and crew". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  7. ^ Graham (2004), p. 36
  8. ^ Neil McCormick (2006). U2 by U2 (1st US ed.). HarperCollins. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-06-077675-6. 
  9. ^ McGee (2008), p. 114
  10. ^ McGee (2008), p. 93
  11. ^ McGee (2008), p. 113
  12. ^ "U2 All Because of You". YouTube. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  13. ^ Jones, Sam (28 February 2009). "U2 attract 5,000 with rooftop homage to the Fab Four". The Guardian. 
  14. ^ McGee (2008), p. 104
  15. ^ McGee (2008), p. 109
  16. ^ McGee (2008), pp. 110–111
  17. ^ McGee (2008), p. 111
  18. ^ "KLF Interview". cardhouse.com. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  19. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Rattle and Hum – U2". Allmusic. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  20. ^ Pareles, Jon (16 October 1988). "When Self-Importance Interferes With the Music". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  21. ^ Christgau, Robert. "U2 – Consumer Guide Reviews". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  22. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony (17 November 1988). "Music Review: Rattle and Hum". Rolling Stone (539). Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  23. ^ Cruz, John (16 January 2006). "U2 – Rattle and Hum (album review)". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  24. ^ "Rock's Backpages Writers: Mark Sinker". Rock's Backpages. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  25. ^ "At the movies – Rattle and Hum". Bventertainment.go.com. Retrieved 25 September 2008. [dead link]
  26. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony (December 2000). "U2's Edge and Adam Clayton Look Back on Two Decades of Hit Albums with Few – If Any – Regrets". Revolver. 
  27. ^ a b Fricke, David (1 October 1992). "U2 Finds What It's Looking For". Rolling Stone (640): 40+. Retrieved 26 April 2010. 
  28. ^ Gardner (1994)
  29. ^ McCormick (2006), p. 211
  30. ^ Graham (2004), p. 43
  31. ^ Gardner (1994), pp. xxiii–xxv
  32. ^ "10. U2: Rattle And Hum". Virgin Media. 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  33. ^ "October 1989" Rolling Stone magazine, 14–28 December 1989, page 127
  34. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/u2_rattle_and_hum/
  35. ^ a b c d e "U2 – Rattle and Hum". Ultratop. Hung Median. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  36. ^ a b "Certificações de U2" (in Portuguese). ABPD. Retrieved 18 November 014.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  37. ^ a b "Gold and Platinum Search: Rattle and Hum". Music Canada. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  38. ^ a b "Kulta – ja platinalevyt: U2" (in Finnish). International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  39. ^ "Tous les "Chart Runs" des Albums classés despuis 1985" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 10 August 2011.  Note: U2 must be searched manually.
  40. ^ "Certifications Albums Or – année 1995". Disque en France (in French). Syndicat National de l'Edition Phonographique. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  41. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (U2; 'Rattle%and%Hum')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  42. ^ "Goud/Platina" (in Dutch). NVPI. Retrieved 9 January 2011. [dead link]
  43. ^ "Certifications – Search for: Rattle and Hum". The Official Swiss Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  44. ^ "TOP 40 OFFICIAL UK ALBUMS ARCHIVE – 22 October 1998". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  45. ^ a b "Certified Awards Search". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 10 August 2011.  Note: U2 must be searched manually.
  46. ^ a b c "U2: Charts and Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 23 January 2010. 
  47. ^ "Gold & Platinum – Searchable Database". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 26 April 2011.  Note: U2 must be searched manually.
  48. ^ "Gold & Platinum – Certification Criteria". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  49. ^ "Introduction – RPM". RPM, archives hosted by Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 26 November 2009.  Note: Songs must be searched manually.
  50. ^ "Search the charts". Irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 29 October 2009.  Note: U2 must be searched manually
  51. ^ "U2 singles". Everyhit.com. Retrieved 29 October 2009.  Note: U2 must be searched manually.
  52. ^ a b "U2 songs". Billboard. Retrieved 29 October 2009.  Note: Songs must be searched manually

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
New Jersey by Bon Jovi
Billboard 200 number-one album
12 November – 23 December 1988
Succeeded by
Giving You the Best That I Got
by Anita Baker
Preceded by
Flying Colours by Chris de Burgh
UK number one album
22 October 1988 – 28 October 1988
Succeeded by
Money for Nothing by Dire Straits
Preceded by
New Jersey by Bon Jovi
Australian ARIA Albums Chart number-one album
31 October – 4 December 1988
Succeeded by
Barnestorming by Jimmy Barnes