Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Rage Against The Machine - XX - Review!

It’s hard not to see Tom Morello’s face in the side bar of a music magazine this past year. Whether it be filling in for Steven Van Zandt on the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band tour, or one of his many solo performances with all of the other Occupy protestors, his leadership is appreciated by the younger post grunge generation and there could be no better teacher of how to “rebel” against… well pretty much anything. Every time I see Tom in one of these scenarios, I always think, damn I miss Rage Against the Machine.

It’s hard to believe that it has been 20 years since Tom and fellow band mates Timmy C., Brad Wilk and Zack De La Rocha released the self-titled debut release as Rage Against the Machine and what better way to celebrate than with this great deluxe rerelease. The remaining band members have not kept quite as high a profile as Tom. Drummer Brad and bass player Tim of course joined Tom through 2001-2007 in Audioslave backing former Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell. Zack on the other hand has continuously kept a much lower profile. I remember reading a magazine article which had a “Where’s Waldo” type feature with Zack in place of Waldo. It fit him perfectly, always showing up at different protests and events but just fading into the background.

I was so anxious to listen to this rerelease today and was not disappointed. It quickly brought me back to the early 90’s when I was a young teenager hearing these crazy guitar solos and Zack De La Rocha’s rapping/singing/screaming with all these protest lyrics. It reminded me of how huge it was back then to hear Rage and how they made it cool once again to speak your mind and fight for what you believe in, whether or not it’s what society wants you to believe.

The packaging of this album was very attractive at first glance. It opens up like a book and turns into a double gatefold. The book style case was made with a coarse cardboard finish, with black and white text and graphics. It is simply the best CD packaging appearance I have seen in a long while. The only complaint I had is how difficult it is to get the discs out of the packaging. I guess you have to trade something off for these great looks. It’s near impossible to get the discs out without getting your finger prints on the bottom.

This deluxe edition contained the original CD with three bonus live tracks of Bombtrack, Bullet in the Head and Take the Power back which were originally released as “B-Sides” of the CD singles. A DVD was included with music videos and live performances. I never get tired of watching clips of Rage performing back in their prime. The real gem however was the second CD that was full of the original demos of the album. I expected to throw this in and hear a bunch of live recordings taped from an old boom box. On the contrary, the sound quality of these demos was fantastic. Their musicianship was sharp and Zach’s singing was damn near perfect. Rage did a really decent job of producing these as well.  I actually enjoyed these demos more than the original album. A little rawer than the official studio releases but when it comes to Rage Against the Machine, the rawer the better.

So to all you rebels who want to relive the early 90’s and to all you young readers who want to learn about true protest music, this release is for you. I highly recommend spending the extra few bucks for the special edition, the demo recordings alone are worth the price. If your wallet is even deeper there is even a much larger Deluxe Box Set Edition available with 2 CD's. 2 DVD's and the Vinyl.

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