U2 Rattle and Hum (Island)
The U2 Catalog
Reviewed by Michael Bertin, Fri., March 30, 2001
Rattle and Hum (Island)Compile 10 studio albums and one of them will necessarily fall to the bottom of a list ranking them by quality. Thus, relative to U2's catalogue, Rattle and Hum is so bad it's laughable. True, it isn't a studio recording in its entirety, but that's no extenuation. "This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles," Bono announces on a live cover of "Helter Skelter." "We're stealing it back." Puh-leez! What arrogance. And those are the first words on the album. The rest of the track list reads like a litany of mistakes: the soul men wannabe "Angel of Harlem" and gospelized "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," the remedial three-chorder "Desire," the unsolicited sequel to the John Lennon opus "God Part II," and the we-can-out-Willie Willie himself somnambulant "Love Rescue Me." The Joshua Tree, U2's previous release, had rightfully propelled the Irishmen into the upper echelon of the rock hierarchy. They were obviously still drunk on their own success when they conceived of the movie/soundtrack, old/new, live/studio combinations that would define this Rattle and Hum. Naturally it has a couple of redeeming moments: B.B. King rescues the second half of the album with his appearance on "When Love Comes to Town," and in retrospect, the album's closer "All I Want Is You" is a deftly executed harbinger of what could be expected from the follow-up Achtung Baby. With Rattle and Hum, the band tried to be just about everything they weren't and hadn't been up until that point. In that respect, this is the band's most daring album, but bands get judged on their music, and inasmuch as that's what really matters, this is U2's worst album.