U2’s ‘Rattle” much, much more than a soundtrack

Panama City Herald / Knight-Ridder Wire by Ellen Creager and Gary Graff (1988-10-14)

Rattle and Hum, U2 (Island) – More than the soundtrack to the movie that opens Nov. 4, this two-record seet is U2’s new album, another musical step for the Irish quartet that’s impressed and progressed since it started releasing albums in 1980. On Rattle and Hum, the group looks for roots; it continues the concious exploration of styles — many from America — that its members began on last year’s The Joshua Tree album and talked about during their U.S. tours.

The search takes many forms on Rattle and Hum. There are in-concert covers of songs by the Beatles (Helter Skelter) and Bob Dylan (All Along the Watchtower), as well as an answer to John Lennon’s God title God Part II, that castigates recent Lennon biographer Albert Goldman. The group also dives into Memphis soul (Angel of Harlem), folk from Ireland (Van Deimen’s Land) and America (Live Rescue Me, composed and performed with Dylan), blues (When Love Comes to Town with B.B. King and a live version of the anti-apartheid Silver and Gold) and gospel (Hawkmoon 269 and a live version of I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For with New York’s Voices of Freedom choir).

It’s an eclectic pastiche of material, but U2 applies a deft hand to each song, making Rattle and Hum surprisingly cohesive and univerly exciting. With nods to its past – live versions of Pride (In the Name of Love) and Bullet the Blue Sky – and all the new material, the group more than lives up to the expectations of those who have labeled it one of this decade’s most important bands.

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