U2 > Rattle & Hum









U2
Rattle & Hum
(Island)
Rating: ★★★★★

They were on the brink of being the most important rock band of a generation. Not since the Rolling Stones had a group of rock and rollers emerged with both the cohesion and the thrust to warrant that notion. Puckish in a way that would eventually support the fame skewering/courting of lead singer Bono Vox’s larger-than-life personas, the not taking-themselves-too-seriously banter and choice of song covers-the opening “Helter Skelter,” “All Along The Watchtower,” not to mention the wry B.B. King trade-off “When Love Comes To Town”-offered the balance to the seriousness of the progressive, almost Christian punk band.

The Edge-with that broken glass and twisted, clean, electric tone-both shoves columns of electric guitar chords and lacerates with solos that bore into a melody’s core. As the juxtaposition to Bono’s haunted and haunting delivery that is ardor cast upon a sea of need and seeking.

“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” is an anthem for the disillusioned who refuse to surrender-and here the near-straining to his witness, punctuated by a wall of soul-gospel choir, is a testimonial to faith against the odds. Ditto the intensity that marks the Martin Luther King-inspired “Pride (In The Name of Love)” with the signature riffs, the waves of sweeping rhythms receding into lean places that let the truth emerge of its own volition.

And that’s the beauty of Rattle & Hum. Never designed to be a bigger-faster-louder live record, what emerges from the tracks is a band in their prime-neither hiding in an accelerated take on the songs they’re known for nor drowning them in the hubris that can sometimes plague the road-playing just what is needed, letting the audience rise to the moment and sending everyone home richer for the way music rearranges your DNA.

That is the gift of Rattle & Hum: the truth about a band a lot of people believed in. With the rock-solid Larry Mullin and Adam Clayton holding down the rhythm section, they could hit hard, lean and clean-allowing the songs, the guitar and the singer to bring the heat. To be this naked is the gift-and the reward.