Thursday, June 15, 2006

Albums I Missed:
Rage Against The Machine – Live & Rare

Albums I Missed:

Rage Against The Machine – Live & Rare
January 1999

Listening to a Rage Against The Machine album is like hearing someone yell fire in a crowded theater. Rage Against The Machine live is like being in the burning theater itself.

With that in mind, it’s difficult to know where exactly to start a discussion about a band like Rage Against The Machine. As you can see, I’m already having a problem because there are no other bands like Rage Against The Machine…not even them anymore. The hard part about talking about them as a band is that it’s almost impossible to discuss their music without discussing their politics, because for all intents and purposes...politics is their music.

No where is that more evident than on their 1999 release, Live & Rare.

Live & Rare captures Rage Against The Machine at their best musically, but it also captures a snapshot of their politics. Live & Rare includes some of the best Rage tracks from their albums, but it also spotlights an urgent call for awareness about Leonard Peltier, a guest appearance by Chuck D from Public Enemy, an inspired musical rendition of Alan Ginsberg’s 1975 poem Hadda Be Playin’ On A Jukebox and an acidic cover of NWA’s Fuck Tha Police aimed at the Fraternal Order of Police of the city of Philadelphia.

Listening to Live & Rare you realize just how good of a band Rage Against The Machine actually was and what an incredibly unique guitar player Tom Morello is. Hearing him play his signature yet bizarre lines and then switch to a jazzy lead or a heavy rhythm part through the course of the songs on Live & Rare helps to cement his place as one of the most individual voices to ever pick up a guitar. The rhythm section of Tim Commerford on bass and Brad Wilk on drums is amazingly tight in this live setting. Then you have Zack de la Rocha, the voice behind Rage Against The Machine. In the song Freedom, he delivers the line, “Anger is a gift!” A case could be made that Zack de la Rocha’s gift is anger and he shared that gift with all of us through the music of Rage Against The Machine

Rage Against The Machine is not always easy to listen to. In fact, I personally find them very challenging. That is part of what made them so influential. Lyrically, their songs are so political that they exist in their own world of protest. They strive to expose the listener to a reality which exists but is rarely spoken about or receives coverage by the conventional media. Rage Against The Machine is challenging because the songs they wrote, at the very least, forced you to confront a world which seems to exist at odds with conventional wisdom and, at best, made you go out and do something about it.

You can purchase Live & Rare @

No comments: