Rattling Across America

| April 5, 2020

Nothing new from DPAA this week – except for a blurb on their website saying they’re affected by the 2019 Wuhan Coronavirus also.

So instead, you get what follows. Consider yourself forewarned. (smile)

. . .

U2 released two absolutely excellent (and hugely different) albums in the late 1980s/early 1990s – namely, The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby. Both are today (and were at the time) critically acclaimed; they’re considered among the band’s best. And both were hugely successful.

But sandwiched between them, the band released a third album. While it was hugely successful, critics weren’t as impressed.

The album was in large part the band’s reaction to and further exploration of American “roots” popular music – soul, blues, gospel, early rock and roll, and rockabilly. Those influences are IMO clearly seen on parts of the album’s studio work. Portions of the album (including two of the tunes featured below) were even recorded in Sun Studios in Memphis – yes those Sun Studios, the same ones used by any number of American musical legends.

The album also ended up being used as soundtrack for what started out as a video log/small independent film about the band’s Joshua Tree Tour. However, due to the project running over-budget (the band was funding it), the project soon morphed into a Hollywood-produced concert film with a moderately largish budget.

Critics being critics, some were put off by the above. Many thought the band was equating themselves with their elders in American popular music vice honoring them.

Regardless, the album was financially successful. And it includes some tracks that can IMO stand with anything the band’s ever done.

I’m not going to feature the most successful tune from the album, “Desire”. This rockabilly- and blues-inspired tune was a successful US single, topping the US charts. But I’m going to feature three other tunes that weren’t as successful – and are IMO as good or better.

The first: U2’s collaboration with blues legend BB King – which was released as a single, and peaked at #14 on US charts. It was recorded at Sun Studios.
 

 
The second: the band’s soul- and jazz-influenced tribute to jazz great Billy Holliday. It was also released as a successful single, and was also recorded at Sun Studios.
 

 
And, finally, what IMO might perhaps the strongest cut from the album. It wasn’t released as a single, so it didn’t get as much airplay; as a result, this one might be new to a few readers. It blends influences from many American popular musical types – IMO, most notably from gospel, folk, early rock and roll, and perhaps country.
 
 
 
A few of the album’s live tracks are similarly excellent. From the live cuts, “Silver and Gold”, the band’s cover of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”, and their collaboration with the New Voices of Freedom Gospel Choir on “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” are IMO the highlights. YMMV.

. . .

OK, that’s all for today. “We now return you to your regularly-scheduled programming.” (smile)

Category: Pointless blather, Who knows

Comments (16)

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  1. AW1Ed says:

    Stroll down memory lane. Thanks, Hondo.

  2. Sparks says:

    Great music Hondo. Thank you and safe travels Brother.

    • Hondo says:

      Thanks, Sparks. Been back home for a few days now, but I do indeed appreciate the good wishes. (You too, Devtun.)

  3. 5th/77th FA says:

    Those who can…do! Those who can’t…criticize. And everybody wants to be a critic.

    Good cuts to choose from, did roll many a mile back then and it was a long way between radio stations. Thank God for a customer base that included record stores (remember them?), being a rep of high end car audio, and owning a plethora of recording equipment.

    BB King & Lucille, two of the finest matchups…evah! And “Lady Day” Billie Holiday, taken from us way yonder too soon. I was just a lad when she passed, but remember the albums that Mama had of hers.

    As I said before, more reasons why these Genxyzlmnops hate us old geezers. We did have the BEST music. It all went to hell with the advent of disco (sux), boy bands, rap, and pop country. “Just take those old records off the shelf.”

    Tanks Hondo!

  4. Devtun says:

    Hey Hondo,’Achtung Baby’ was released in 1991. Thx & stay safe.

    • Hondo says:

      True. The above was intended to read “late 1980s/early 1990s”; I inadvertently omitted the “/early 1990s” while trying to finalize the article quickly and get it posted. It’s fixed above now.

  5. Andy11M says:

    As a child of the 80’s U2 was a big part of the soundtrack of my life back then. I remember all three of these albums and the Rattle And Hum movie.

    • Ret_25X says:

      None of my friends would have been caught dead listening to U2 in the 80’s or 90’s. It’s like being a Def Leppard fan…LOL

      Even today, there is only one U2 song I like, and I don’t like it enough to actually pay money for it.

  6. David says:

    “When Love Comes to Town” – the only song off Rattle and Hum I could stand. Worked a Comdex one year where the booth two down from us looped R&H, and only R&H, constantly. 5 days of that left me with a deep abiding hatred of U2 except for the one song.

  7. Comm Center Rat says:

    In the locust wind comes a rattle and hum
    Jacob wrestled the angel and the angel was overcome

    ~ Bullet the Blue Sky, U2 (1987)

  8. Slow Joe says:

    U2?

    Isn’t that a Cold War era airplane?

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      Perhaps you are thinking of Jefferson Airplane?

    • Hondo says:

      Not exactly. Though it was designed and initially produced during the Cold War, it’s been updated significantly since. As of 2015, updated versions – the U-2S and TU-2S – were still in service with the USAF. I’m reasonably sure it’s still in the USAF inventory today.

      https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/104560/u-2stu-2s/

      FWIW: according to multiple accounts I’ve read, the band’s name was selected off a list of 6 provided by a friend of one of the band members when the band was renaming itself circa 1978. One of the reasons it was chosen was its “ambiguity”. The other reason was the fact that it was the name on the list the band members disliked least – and could thus all agree on. (smile)

  9. QMC says:

    Achtung Baby or bust. Even better than the Real Thing still my jam.

  10. Skippy says:

    I grew up listening to unforgettable fire / Joshua Tree / War
    All three and a distinct sound from a era before they went
    Main stream