Good day to you waveriders. I’m so glad you could join me, your old pal Penfold, here on the Ripple Effect for this little fireside chat. Are you cozy enough? Is everything to your liking? Yes? Okay then, let’s get this show on the road. Today is a special day. You see today I’m going to be talking to you all about an album that is near and dear to my heart; my dark, cynical, infuriated heart. So without further ado…here…we…go!
There comes a time in every music fans life when they hear a song or an album that completely changes the way they think and feel about the world around them. For some it is as if a bolt of lightning struck them down and they recognize the change immediately. For others the change is more graduated, taking place over the course of a week or even a month. Personally, my musical metamorphosis mirrored the former more so than the latter.
While in high school I began playing in a band with some friends of mine. I happened to be riding in our drummer’s pickup truck one day when he put on the self-titled album by Rage Against The Machine. To be perfectly honest with you waveriders I didn’t recognize that hearing this music had affected me all that much. Sure I liked what I heard, but it’s not as if I stole the CD from my friend at the conclusion of the ride! No, what actually happened was that within a day or two I got my friend to record a copy of the album onto a blank cassette tape. That tape, which I still have today, took up residence in my car and very quickly became the only music I would listen to while driving. The only time that tape ever left my car was when it was shuttled to the stereo in my room. Upon reflection that album singlehandedly got me through high school, but that’s enough about me. Let’s talk about the music.
RATM’s debut album is a monster. It is scary good. The band is a lethal four man hit squad intent on total auditory domination of any who dare listen to their work. Tom Morello lays down riff after mega-riff, each made more powerful thanks to his thick, muscular guitar tone. The lock-step rhythm section of Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford never fail to get your body moving, whether that means simply swaying to the groove or more likely pogoing up and down like a madman. Last but not least, Zack De La Rocha is capable of channeling extreme levels of righteous anger and fury through his vocals which cannot fail to ignite a passionate response. If you like furious hard rock as well as polemical hip hop, I have never heard a better combination of the two than what you hear on this album. Nothing has even come close!
So what’s going on with this 20th anniversary reissue? Should you buy it? The answer to that question is complicated. First of all if you are a longtime fan then you likely own a copy of the Live And Rare album. The three live tracks tacked onto the standard edition of the reissue can be found on that earlier release so if you own Live… then there is nothing new for you here. Then again if you’re a new fan or don’t have the Live… album then by all means buy, buy, buy! Moving on to the deluxe edition you get what to me is the star of the show, a second disc that contains the twelve song demo tape RATM produced and sold before obtaining a record deal. It’s fantastic to hear the less polished versions of well-known songs as well as the songs that simply didn’t make the cut on the debut album. “Darkness Of Greed” has long been one of my favorite RATM songs. Also of note are the significantly different guitar solos you hear on the demos. Very, very cool stuff! The super deluxe version contains both of the aforementioned CDs, two DVDs featuring live concert footage, a vinyl copy of the album, a 40 page booklet, and a poster. I know what you’re saying waveriders. That package sounds great! You’re right! It does! Unfortunately, as of this writing that edition costs around $100. Look, we’re all big boys and girls and I’m not telling you how to spend your hard earned monies. All I’m saying is that as fanatical as I am about this album and this band, I’m only picking up the deluxe version.
Now if you’ll excuse me I need to properly stretch out my neck muscles before I once again hit play on this vicious, unrelenting, magnificent album. Safety first I always say.