In October 1988, following the massive success of The Joshua Tree, U2 released Rattle and Hum. The film and album was a documentary of the band on tour, and their exploration of America roots music, which included blues and gospel.
Among the places visited during U2’s Joshua Tree tour, the most notable place was Denver, Colorado. There, the film was shot in black and white over two nights, at the city’s McNichols Sports Arena, and most of the songs performed there made it to the album including hits “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and covers of the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” and Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”. Meanwhile, color footage was shot in Tempe, Arizona, and it was where U2 perfromed songs including “Mothers of the Disappeared”, “One Tree Hill”, and “Bullet the Blue Sky”.
Much of the Rattle and Hum album contained studio recordings, and many of them would add more classic hits for U2. They included the Billie Holiday tribute “Angel of Harlem”, “Desire” (which contained a Bo Diddley beat”, and was the album’s only top ten hit single), and “When Loves Comes to Town” (a collaboration with B.B. King).
Rattle and Hum was greeted with mixed reviews, with many of them being negative. The project was panned by critics (including Roger Ebert), as poorly conceived and bombastic, as well as accusing U2 of trying to place themselves as peers among music legends. Commercially, the film barely broke even at the box office. But the album sold strongly, becoming the band’s second number one album in America and Ireland, selling over fourteen million copies worldwide, thus continuing the band’s place as one of the biggest acts of the 1980s.