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Album: Rage Against The Machine - Renegades
Rage Against The Machine in general
Member Name: mo79
Rage Against The Machine in general
Date: 01/12/00, updated on 01/12/00 (381 review reads)
Advantages: A great original set of covers, played and produced greatly
Disadvantages: It's the last studio album featuring singer Zack, and it's a covers one
This RATM covers album is the last studio album featuring their recently departed singer Zack De La Rocha - there's plans for a live album release after this, but in studio terms it's the last, and it's just a shame that it's covers not originals. Hopefully this won't be the last RATM album either if the band are fit enough to continue, in any form.
Anyhow, it's a fabulous piece of entertainment! It's 12 songs worth of rock, hip-hop and punk covers of various diversity. It's great because many of the bands Rage have namechecked (i.e. Public Enemy, Kiss, Bad Brains, The Sex Pistols)...are not on here! It's an unpredictable variety. There's also two live versions of the songs on the limited edition CD.
The album artwork is quite minimalist aswell, it's just art coloured square lettering and an interesting inlay depicting how you could wtite a message on money - a piece of paper that no one will burn - as a form of protest; it's also a crime apparently. It also doesn't explain who the covers are by, although there are credits and a few liner notes (and links to political organisations) that explain things. And it doesn't list the current band line-up as on previous albums...
Anyway, the album itself is really great. It's produced by reknowned hard rock producer Rick Rubin, and the most noticable thing is the warm and gourmet production. It's not tinkered or polished up too much, and so retains that raw, almost live edge. Zack sounds as emotive as ever, the drums sound as natural as can be, combined with gritty guitar and noticably boomy bass.
Expected first single 'Renegades Of Funk' is an Afrika Bambaataa one (which incidently contains a chant from the original) and is proper funk rock, with some added bongos. It's got a kind of groovy but very dangerous feel to it, almost like the volatile RATM themselves.
Also featured here is Bruce Springsteen's 'The Ghost Of Tom
Joad' - it might sound like an odd choice to cover, but they pull it off surprisingly well. Fans who own the RATM live video can find semblance in the fact that this recorded version is different to the one on that video's accompanying CD single. I think it sounds better if anything!
I haven't heard the original Rolling Stones 'Street Fighting Man', but Rage's version sounds very spiky, gritty and panicky. It's a pure body moving adrenaline rush. After this song is 'Maggie's Farm' with the classic sounding line "I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more" etc., and some bluesy funk.
RATM's mates Cypress Hill also get a nod here on 'How I Could Just Kill A Man', and again on the live bonus version where B-Real (possible new RATM singer too) and Sen Dog join the band to sing along. It's a great song, simply.
Half-way into the album 'Beautiful World' is probably the only thing on the album that sounds out of place. It's good, but doesn't fit in with the other songs too much. It's a good and lyrically strong, wiry guitar (just guitar and vocals) ballad though. I think the song's by Devo, I think I read that in some magazine. The best bit is the harsh reality, that "It's a beautiful world for you - not me".
'In My Eyes' is basic fast 70's punk rock, this is possibly by The Stooges, they have atleast one Stooges cover here I think, and it's interesting as I doubt you've ever heard RATM purely resemble a punk band, it's almost like classic Green Day, maybe.
I don't know who 'Down On The Street' is by, but it's still a mighty good tune - atleast RATM's version that I know of.
'Kick Out The Jams' is another cool funky rock cover, and features again as the second live bonus. The other songs are pure hip-hop adoration. I don't know the original artists, but 'Microphone Fiend' is
a good definition anthem for hip-hop, and 'Pistol Grip Pump' almost makes you feel like the bass and guitars are pulling a trigger every other funky beat, and 'I'm Housin'' is just a great slab of pure unadulterated hip-hop, RATM style again.
When I bought this album I only bought it as a RATM fan, as a salute to Zack leaving, I didn't think I'd like it too much. I know that's a bad reason for buying albums, but fans at any point of a band's career become collectors too forever, and so I bought this and was pleasantly surprised by it's pure and gourmet approach, even the packaging looks like it's an indie label release, although they're on Sony Epic. And it's a good varied selection of non-obvious covers, and interpreted in the classic RATM way. This is just an ace album! Most covers albums see bands belting out note for note stuff they played when they were at school or something, and they're boring, but this is different.
It kind of makes you sad when you think that this indeed is that studio album with Zack, and it's a covers one, but atleast he exited in style, and RATM have made enough good songs to be known as legends.
I can't wait for their live album (next year) now, and I'll be anticipating what now lies ahead for the band. For the time being, this is a great piece of audio entertainment; I'm giving it an unashamed 5 stars, and recommend it to all! It's another of the year's best albums.