"Rattle and Hum" somehow survived 1988, the movie and "The Joshua Tree's" shadow to stand on its own as a massive slab of U2 product -- pulsating (sometimes ominous) bass, chiming guitars, hammering drums and Bono's trademark whisper-wailing.
It's a giant mixed bag -- live cuts from the tour ("Silver and Gold," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," "Pride," and "Bullet the Blue Sky" are magnificent), studio cuts ("God Part II," "Love Rescue Me," "Desire," and "Heartland" live on, while "Angel of Harlem" and "When Love Comes to Town" never made it out of the 80s), covers ("All Along the Watchtower" and "Helter Skelter," both of which are simply OK) and original tunes ("Hawkmoon 289" is extremely underrated).
Dark and beautiful, exceptionally well-produced, "Rattle and Hum" is not U2 for the masses but for the fan and the collector. It just barely misses greatness; its lack of focus and all-over-the-place approach has charm but no momentum. The movie can't compare, but the album does strangely leave off two excellent tracks from the tour: "With Or Without You" (with Bono throwing in the famous "missing lyric") and the bone-breaking "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Oh, well, you can't have it all.