Rattle and Hum is U2’s hybrid live/studio album released on October 10th, 1988 via Island Records. It was a follow-up to their breakthrough album The Joshua Tree. The project capturing the band as they continued to explore America on The Joshua Tree Tour. The album features a mix of new studio recordings, live performances, and cover songs, including collaborations with B.B. King, Bob Dylan, and others.
Jimmy Iovine produced the album, and the recorded took place at a variety of locations, including the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, Danesmoate and Point Depot in Dublin, Ireland. Rattle and Hum features a more rootsy and organic sound than U2’s previous albums with a greater emphasis on blues rock, folk rock, and gospel music.
Happy Anniversary to U2’s Rattle and Hum!
The album received mixed reviews from critics upon its release with some feeling that U2 made a deliberate attempt to be too American. Some people said the band wanted to place themselves amongst the ranks of other legendary musicians and artists. Even with mixed reviews, Rattle and Hum reached #1 on nine different charts worldwide, including the US Billboard 200 for six weeks. Since its release, the album has sold over five million copies in the United States, certifying it 5x’s platinum by the RIAA, and over 14 million units moved worldwide.
Phil Joanou directed the Rattle and Hum rockumentary film, released November 4th, 1988 in the United States. It features footage of the band on tour, in the studio, and collaborating with other artists. The film also includes interviews with Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr., and Adam Clayton. It was not as successful as the album, grossing just $8.6 million worldwide. However, it has since become a cult classic. It went down as one of the best rockumentary films ever made.
There was alternative live concert footage captured for the rockumentary in other cities during The Joshua Tree Tour, including the show here in Philadelphia at JFK Stadium on September 25th, 1987. It didn’t ultimately appear on the final cut of the film upon release.
Overall, Rattle and Hum is a significant album in U2’s catalog. It’s also a cool representation of where the band was at that point in their careers. I am glad they decided to capture the music and that moment in time sonically and visually.