So it’s 2000 and Rage drops a covers album. What. Haha it rocks, and the songs are well selected, so fear not.
Even the cover art is a parody of another artwork, Robert Indiana’s LOVE, replacing LOVE with RAGE. Of course. I’m really sure we stood with the reproduced LOVE sculpture at 6th Ave and 55th St. in New York City…
As for the tracks:
Eric B. & Rakim – Microphone Fiend
Volume 10’s – Pistol Grip Pump
MC5 – Kick Out The Jams
Afrika Bambaataa – Renegades Of Funk
Devo – Beautiful World
EPMD – I’m Housin’
Minor Threat – In My Eyes
Cypress Hill – How I Could Just Kill A Man
Bruce Springsteen – The Ghost Of Tom Joad
Stooges – Down On The Street
Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man
Bob Dylan – Maggie’s Farm
So it’s either rap or punk artists… oh yeah, and Stones, Dylan and Springsteen. Right on. There was a version that bonus tracks, a couple of live versions, if that interests you.
They play the whole damn thing with aplomb, turning each track from whatever it used to be into a Rage song. I used to bitch about how they turned the Stones track into a Prodigy-feel rave-up, but now I don’t mind so much. The Ghost Of Tom Joad was always my fave, here. Anyway, it all hits damn hard, and in the good headphones you’re in for a right pounding! And now that I’ve typed that, I’m pretty sure I didn’t need to. You knew this already.
Carry on. And CRANK IT!
I’ve already covered this record, in these pages. It really is like a bomb going off in your stereo. I love it completely. After so many play-throughs over these decades I know every note and word, and if I had a drum set, I’ll bet I could play along fairly well with every song. True story: ages ago, a guy with whom I occasionally jammed loved to play Know Your Enemy, him on guitar, me on drums. Even with just two people, much fun!
So I was at HMV (soon to be defunct!) and had got enough stuff that I would be allowed to buy a selected $12 CD for $7. Most of the stack sucked, but this remaster caught my eye. Still, I hesitated. Did I need it? I mean, I have owned that CD since forever, did I care about a remastering? Did I need it again just for three live tracks? And then I was told it would be closer to $5 with the new HMV death throes discount. Ah what the hell, sold.
So I brought it home, plugged it in and it still sounds as great as it ever did. Did I notice anything in the remastering job? Not really. I read somewhere one criticism that it’s now more compressed and louder, but for me it wasn’t noticeable enough to stop me. I was too busy getting indignant about the world and getting ready to break some shit! This record never fails to get me fired up.
Actually, thinking about it, given the recent inauguration of a new president in our southern neighbours’ fine and beautiful country, a track like Take The Power Back really, really, REALLY hit the spot.
The three live tracks are great documents. It’s awesome to hear how they attacked the songs in a live setting, and they sound pretty damn great. Bombtrack (from the Bombtrack single, including Zach’s rant about Leonard Pelletier as intro), Bullet In The Head (from the Bullet In The Head single), and Take The Power Back (from the Freedom single).
This set also came in a bunch of super-fancy-pants versions, none of which I could afford or would even really need. All I need is the main album tracks, played in order, at top volume. Put it in, crank it, and achieve fuckin’ lift-off.
If you don’t own this album, uh, first of all, WHY NOT? You need this, so go get it. This RM is really cheap right now, and worth every damn cent for thinking persons everywhere.
If you already own an old original copy of the album (as I do), then you don’t really need this. But it’s friggin’ cheap, and the extra live tracks are therefore worth it.
Ages ago, I owned this. Must’ve sold it off when we moved provinces, or something. Silly me.
Found at work for cheap, this one is (predictably) a fucking bomb going off in your stereo. These tunes are perfect for November, 2016, and until people get their shit together, this stuff is going to continue to be salient, and bang on the nose.
Also, these fucking tunes are killers! All of them! Just look!
2. Guerrilla Radio
3. Calm Like a Bomb
4. Mic Check
5. Sleep Now in the Fire
6. Born of a Broken Man
7. Born as Ghosts
9. Voice of the Voiceless
10. New Millennium Homes
11. Ashes in the Fall
12. War Within a Breath
Every so often comes a record that shakes up the way you see things; love, life, politics, whatever the case may be, that one record stands above all else and shows you how things could be. We’re lucky if this happens more than once in a lifetime, and it will, if you have your mind and your ears open.
I was in the right place at the right time to be infected by the strength of this first album from rage against the machine. It was the early ‘90s, I was still in high school but headed off to university soon, looking at the world outside with the knowledge that I, too, would soon be more of a participant. Couple that with the explosion that was Grunge, and this album rolled in perfectly.
Anger pours out of every track on this record, but what was refreshing was the way it was presented – point blank, in your face and with no fear of being shut down. We know that anger has its place, that it is a valid emotion and that it must be dealt with immediately, not bottled up for the sake of the status quo. And here was this record, letting it out, venting about the things that bothered the band most and being completely unapologetic about it.
Some friends (and even a band on the Short Music compilation) have called rage against the machine phonies, sell-outs who foist their own propaganda about DIY and Damn The Man while still taking Corporate money to get the message out there. Frankly, there are other ways to get your stuff into the hands of fans. Look at Ani DiFranco, or Fugazi. Even Rollins (sometimes). Oh, and a little thing called the Internet. Heard of it, have you?
But those people missed the point. It wasn’t so much the method that got the album out there, it was what was contained therein. Who can argue its potential to smack you awake and open your mind a bit more to the world around you? And whatever you may think of their politics, no one can deny that, musically, this record is like a bomb going off in your stereo. It’s forceful, even brutal, and definitely loud. It is impossible to play this at a low volume.
rage against the machine went on to make other records, some of which contained great songs, but this first release of theirs remains the template, the epitome of their sound and thought, strong from its bass-driven start to its crashing feedback finish.
I am wholly in favour of anything that is a call to Wake Up. To re-evaluate your life, situation, ways of thinking, everything. This record was one of those wake-up calls. I won’t ever be without it.