Every once in a while a review can make me feel old. This twentieth anniversary release of Rage Against the Machine’s self-titled debut album is one such review. I can’t believe that it has been 20 years already since I bought this cassette. Sure, when I think about the things I was doing at the time it certainly makes sense now, but I think a lot of it has to do with how new the sound of what I was hearing was.
When I think back to the 90s, there are several bands that changed music during that decade. You get Radiohead, a few of the grunge bands of course, and Rage Against the Machine is certainly a band that has to be on any such list. In less than 30 seconds anyone listening to “Bombtrack” knew that this would change music forever. Years later Rage would influence many lesser (often much lesser) “rap-rock” bands, as none would ever really would come close. They had a message delivered by Zack de la Rocha in the most intense fashion imaginable. Tom Morello was making noises with a guitar full of effects and by tapping and scratching his strings mercilessly. And while they were the lesser known members of the band, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford provided beats and bass lines that were crucial to the Rage Against the Machine sound.
Now 20 years later Rage’s debut has been re-released in the usual digitally remastered fashion in a few different collectable options. You can purchase the album itself with a few new live tracks, the Special Edition (including a 6-track live DVD and second disc of demos and b-sides, and the Deluxe Box Set (which includes everything I’ve mentioned, plus an additional DVD, LP, booklet, and poster). Unless you are a super-fan and need all of the extra bells and whistles, the Special Edition will do you just fine. The standard re-release is fairly pointless given the price difference between that and the Special Edition since you likely have this album already despite it not being re-mastered or including the few live tracks.
The bonus features on the Special Edition release are pretty good. The second disc includes 12 songs, most of which eventually made it on to the original full-length. None of the songs on this disc are as good as the songs that appear on the actual album, especially the ones that never made the cut. What is awesome about these songs is that they are generally raw and sound like a demo generally does. You can imagine this beat up tape ending up on the desk of some label executive and him yelling to get their manager on the phone within seconds of pressing play. The live footage that you get is great as well. For those that missed out on seeing Rage before, it’s well worth seeing whatever you can of their live performances. Few bands every put out this kind of energy. De la Rocha’s frenetic performances and Morello’s constant abuse of his guitars to get his signature sound from them is amazing.
Rage Against the Machine’s debut album is already a must have, so most people that are interested in this style should already own this album. It is nice to get a re-mastered version for the better quality of course, but the standard re-release doesn’t offer much in bonus futures. For those interested in more of what Rage offers for the 20th anniversary of this seminal album, the Special Edition is a strong collection with nice bonus features for existing fans and new fans alike.
Key Tracks: Killing In the Name, Bullet In The Head, Wake Up
Kevin Kozel - Sr. MuzikReviews.com Staff
November 26, 2012