I’ve always been a little troubled that little was made of the fact that Rage Against the Machine, a rock band that was known for scathingly anti-corporate lyrics (even heading down to Wall Street for their, well anti-Wall Street rant “Bulls on Parade” video), chose not to turn to an established independent label to release their music, or even take the Ani Di Franco/Fugazi route and start their own label, but rather jump into bed with Epic Records, one of the largest, publically-traded record labels in the world. And that’s not a slam on Epic, who has built a reputation of discovering some stellar bands over the years, but you can’t help but wonder what percentage of Rage’s lyrics are actually steeped in core beliefs when they would willing take the biggest contract put in front of them.
Ok, that personal slam aside, it’s hard to argue against the fact that the California band’s twenty-year-old, self-titled debut was extremely influential and was an explosively powerful collection of alternative metal bombast. From the cover photo of the Vietnamese monk burning himself to death in protest, to the in your face lyrics of oppression and rebellion, to the punch in the face blast of guitars and drums, the record is remarkable in all that it was able to accomplish with just 10 songs.
Though much is made of this being one of the first commercially-successful blends of rap and hard rock, the band kept a stronger dose of metal in the mixture and shouldn’t be blamed for the slew of watered down imitators that followed in their wake (from Limp Bizkit to Disturbed) any more than Nirvana and Pearl Jam were responsible for Candlebox.
Legacy Records, with the band’s blessing, has re-released the complete album with a trio of live songs, a second disc of the band’s demo and two separate DVDs of live performances and videos and a vinyl record. From the lyrically biting “Killing in the Name” right through to the album closer “Freedom” the band delivered a nearly flawless debut that deserves the royal re-release treatment.
Keep fighting the power! Even if The Man has made you a millionaire.
Rage Against the Machine – XX [20th Anniversary Edition Deluxe Box Set]/2 CDs, 2 DVDs and 1 LP/Legacy/2012