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Old 04-08-2009, 12:32 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Rattle & Hum/Pop [Island; 1988/1997]


I decided to review these two albums at the same time because I found myself saying similar things about them when I tried reviewing them individually. There’s also no score because it’s pointless to score two albums that were clearly terrible.

Both Rattle & Hum and Pop share the unfortunate fate of being considered the worst albums of their respective decades. The reasons differ slightly, but they both arrive at the same conclusion. In Rattle & Hum’s case, fans had already listened to what most considered the pinnacle of U2’s 80s sound in The Joshua Tree. In Pop’s case, fans were no longer interested by the electro/dance gimmick that the band took to ridiculous levels by the time Zooropa came out. It didn’t help that Pop came out five years after Zooropa – by then I imagine fans were expecting something else from the band. You’d think that Rattle & Hum, which came out a year after The Joshua Tree, wouldn’t suffer from what Pop suffered from, but it did. Fans didn’t need another album after The Joshua Tree, not for awhile, especially because most of its singles were played on the radio in full force even a year later (and, heck, decades later).


Both albums also suffer from being too bloated. At 72 and 60 minutes respectively, they are U2’s longest albums. The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby, at over 50 minutes apiece, were allowed – and dare I say embraced – because there were hits all over them. Otherwise their albums are no longer than 42 minutes (Zooropa is the odd one out, running for 51 minutes).

There are some good tracks within both albums, namely within Rattle & Hum, which hosts my favourite U2 song, “Angel Of Harlem.” Pop has a much more forgettable set of okay songs, however – the only real highlight being Discotheque and maybe If God Will Send His Angels.

If there’s one really good thing to say about each of these albums is that they finalized a stage of U2’s sound. After Rattle & Hum, U2 would reinvent themselves with a distinctly 90s sound, and after Pop they would reinvent themselves by embracing an alternative radio, allowing U2 to adapt to the shifting tides.

Maybe after No Line On The Horizon, they’ll try going “indie.”
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Old 04-08-2009, 01:22 PM   #22 (permalink)
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You want to hear something funny? I've seen the above image thousands of times in my life and never until this moment noticed that Bono was in the picture holding the spotlight. I always thought it was just a picture of the Edge.

In my defense, I think it's usually a darker image so it's harder to see Bono, like this version of it:

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Old 04-15-2009, 09:46 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Part of me kind of wishes it WAS just Edge...nothing against Bono, but I think that would have been cool - just having Edge represented on the album. Also, I think (correct me if I'm wrong) this is the only album cover that features band member prominently, to NOT feature Larry and Adam.
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Old 04-16-2009, 10:30 AM   #24 (permalink)
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They got very american with joshua tree and rattle and hum by the way. It's like desert dust, heartland, mining towns, diggin' for gold and all that jazz.
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Old 04-16-2009, 10:36 AM   #25 (permalink)
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They got very american with joshua tree and rattle and hum by the way. It's like desert dust, heartland, mining towns, diggin' for gold and all that jazz.
Yeah, it's especially noticeable on Rattle and Hum. Though the photos on Joshua Tree make the American influence pretty blatant.
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Old 06-13-2009, 08:33 AM   #26 (permalink)
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I've always thought it was a pretty silly criticism of the album too. If anything, I would think making an album with an accompanying theatrically released movie a la Rattle and Hum is more of a sell out move than anything they did with Achtung Baby. In fact, I've never understood what people thought was the big difference between Achtung Baby and The Joshua Tree. I mean the band changed their sound a bit but the circumstances were no different; both were Brian Eno produced albums chock full of radio friendly songs. The only real difference I see is that The Joshua Tree has somber black and white photography of the band looking very serious on the cover. Can it really something as superficial as the packaging makes people perceive Achtung Baby as somehow more commercial?
I have to agree. I don't really think Achtung Baby (even though it was a ****ing quality album) was that much of a departure from what they had previously done in terms of sound.
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