Rage Against the Machine Releases

Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine - Renegades:
Released December 5, 2000, on Epic records. (Sony)
Produced by: Rick Rubin and Rage Against the Machine

Guity Parties: Zack de la Rocha - Vocals, Tom Morello -
Guitars, Tim Bob - Bass, and Brad Wilk - Drums.
Contains tracks: Microphone Fiend, Pistol Grip Pump, Kick Out the Jams, Renegades of Funk, Beautiful World, I'm Housin', In My Eyes, How I Could Just Kill a Man, The Ghost of Tom Joad, Down on the Street, Street Fighting Man, Maggie's Farm
Total Running Time: Sideways 8

Rage got together in late 2000 to record some B-sides of cover songs the band wanted to play. With Rick Rubin, the band listened to hundreds of songs and noted the members' favorites, eventually narrowing it down to a mix of 12 songs. "What began as a couple of bonus tracks has blossomed into one of the most powerful records of our career. There has never been another album like this where a band like Rage Against The Machine has recorded an entire CD of revolutionary versions of classic hip-hop and rock songs. We attack these songs with the same irreverence for convention with which they were written," said Morello.

A Breakdown of the Songs...

Microphone Fiend (Eric B and Rakim)
Eric B and Rakim helped create rap's Golden Age in the late 1980s, and "Microphone Fiend," from their 1988 Follow the Leader album, was their anthem.. Deejay Eric B, a former radio disc jockey, wrote the song but it's rapper Rakim who put it across, in all its mic melting glory: The lyric says he's got "a cravin' like a fiend for nicotine" and pledges allegiance to the whole idea of hip-hop as music that has to be done right to live up to its potential: "You didn't keep the stage warm / Step off!" The intensity of the music makes its plain that it's the musician's job to heat things up and keep the flame going. The best musical connection to the Rage version is the great bass line, though.

Pistol Grip Pump, Volume 10
This gangsta-ish rap from 1994's Hip-Hopera album actually got on the radio enough to make the pop charts, but censorship forced a title change (to just "Pump"). Produced by the Baka Brothers, it roars like N.W.A, which is fitting because this is prime West Coast hip-hop, although the music's based on a theme taken from Roger Troutman's great Midwestern funk group, Zapp. This time, the anthem is devoted to solidarity and the right to self-defense.

Kick Out the Jams, MC5
The MC5 roared out of Detroit in 1969 to become the most direct precursors of today's loud, hard rock and politics. Their White Panther Party proclamations, based in part on the Black Panther Party program, crossed racial barriers in similar ways. And their music with its rank of distorted guitars and hyped-up garage band rhythms lead directly to punk's metallic edge. "Kick Out the Jams" sports an amazing set of lyrics, the story of a band toking up in the dressing room, preparing to assault the stage. "Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!" was the cry that opened every MC5 show, shorthand for the band's message to wimpier acid-rockers: "Kick out the jams or get off the stage." The rock and roll version of "Microphone Fiend."

Renegades of Funk, Afrika Bambaataa and SoulSonic Force
Afrika Bambaataa is one of the true founders of hip-hop, as leader of the early 1980s groups Jazzy5 and SoulSonic Force and of the South Bronx community action group, the Zulu Nation. The SoulSonic Force records, probably his greatest, include "Looking for the Perfect Beat," "Planet Rock," and "Renegades of Funk." The originals feature the highly electronic production style of producer Arthur Baker and the whiz-bang skills of rapper G.L.O.B.E., who popularized the poppin' later identified with New York rappers like Big Daddy Kane and Das EFX. In hip-hop's early days, it was frequently threatened with extinction by censors and rhythm-allergic music critics alike, but Bam and his crew knew better: "No matter how you try, you can't stop us now!"

Beautiful World, Devo
This Akron band led by Mark Mothersbaugh specialized in misanthropic satire; their very name refers to the idea that man is in a state of "devolution" back to animalism. The new wave power-pop version of "Beautiful World" on their 1981 album New Traditionalists is certainly intended ironically, but the eerie beauty of the lyrics even in Mark Mothersbaugh's hyped-up reading cannot entirely be denied. Converting "It's a beautiful world for you-not me" to a statement of revolutionary purpose requires real transformation.

I'm Housin', EPMD
Like Eric B and Rakim, EPMD (Eric and Parrish Making Dollars) were a key part of rap's New York-centered Golden Age. "I'm Housin'," from their first album, Strictly Business, is a deeply funky gangsta precursor, a streetwise character refusing to "go out like a sucker," determined not to be fucked with at any price. EPMD's energy has been described as the "rap equivalent of a rock & roll garage band."

In My Eyes, Minor Threat
Ian MacKaye's best known as the leader of Fugazi, the most independent of indie rockers, but his first great band was Minor Threat, the definitive D.C. punk band and the group that invented the hardcore straight-edge style. With its cascading bass and guitar riffs and forcebeat drumming, "In My Eyes" from the 1981 EP of the same title, could be the prototype for all straightedge records, too. It's a furious assault on complacency and conformity in which "loud fast rules÷ from start to finish. Minor Threat broke up in '83 but Fugazi continues to live out the principles snarled out in "In My Eyes."

How I Could Just Kill a Man, Cypress Hill
This LA-based rap trio dropped a bomb in 1992 with its great first album. Sen Dog, B-Real, and Mixmaster Muggs named themselves for Cypress Street in LA's largely Chicano Southgate district. Cypress Hill weren't the first Mexican-American hip-hop group but they were the first who found an audience outside their home turf. "How I Could Just Kill a Man," which actually got enough radio airplay to place on the pop charts, is a matter of fact assertion of what lives are like in the impoverished guts of the American Empire, addressed to those whoĂll never get it because they're too insulated. "How I Could Just Kill a Man," making desperate people not so much sympathetic as real, is a great example of how rap and rock scare the shit out of people who've been propagandized into believing that the furious poor should just shut up.

The Ghost of Tom Joad, Bruce Springsteen
The original Tom Joad is the displaced Oklahoma farmer who's the protagonist of John Steinbeck's 1938 novel, The Grapes of Wrath. He was incarnated by Henry Fonda in John Ford's 1939 Oscar-winning film version. Those versions grabbed the imagination of Woody Guthrie, who was probably as close to a real-life Tom Joad as America has ever seen, and he wrote his long Dust Bowl ballad, "Tom Joad" in 1940. Almost 60 years later, Bruce Springsteen took a strong whiff of what America had become and revisited Joad, this time as a specter hovering over a land of plenty where hope had become a laughingstock. "The highway is alive tonight / And nobody's kidding anybody about where it goes" totally bursts apart the earlier Joad, a symbol of working people fighting back against being cheated by the rich and powerful. In Springsteen's version, Tom Joad is a shadow in the middle of a dark, cold night. This is the exact opposite of Rage's version, in which Tom regains his fighting spirit, without denying any of the brutal reality Springsteen outlines.

Down on the Street, The Stooges
The Stooges classic second album, Funhouse, took what had been the world's crudest band and, with the aid of producer Don Gallucci (who played piano on "Louie Louie") turned it into one of the most influential groups in the world. Much of that has to do with the shrieking lead vocals of frontman Iggy Pop, but a lot is also due to the wah-wah guitar extravaganza Ron Asheton makes out of the bedrock riffs in songs like this, a desperately fierce (or is that fiercely desperate) cry from the heart of the Blank Generation, years before it had an identity or a name.

Street Fighting Man, The Rolling Stones
The original "Street Fighting Man" was released into the teeth of the revolutionary late '60s. Mick Jagger's "what can a poor boy do / But sing in a rock'n'roll band" was at best an ironic tip of the hat to the insurrection happening all over the world-from Paris to Mexico City to Newark to Vietnam-that fall of 1968. Whatever Jagger intended it to mean, his words resonated differently for newer generations of rock fans, who took the slightly altered Chuck Berry riffs and used them to drive home the point. Although it's still a good warning against taking pop stars for more than they're worth, today, the poor boy rapping in a hip-hop group is very likely to be a street fighting man in more ways than one.

Maggie's Farm, Bob Dylan
Dylan based the words and music of this track from his 1965 album, Bringing It All Back Home, on "Down on Penny's Farm," a sharecropper's lament recorded in 1929 by the Bently Boys and later included on Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music. Its statement of complete social defiance-"I wake up in the mornin' / Fold my hands and pray for rain / I got a head full of ideas that are drivin' me insane / It's a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor"-has made it one of Dylan's most continuously relevant and popular songs. It became especially popular among British rebel rockers when Margaret Thatcher's social Darwinism ruled England during the 1980s. Today, lines like "Everybody wants you to be just like them," "She talks to all the servants about man and god and law," and "They say sing while you slave but I just get bored" testify to the way street fighting rockers and rappers have rejected the shams of globalism and free trade, attacking the World Trade Organization and other institutions wherever they meet to try to extinguish freedom.

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