Asia Nichole Hodges

REVIEW: Rage Against the Machine – ‘XX’

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It’s been 20 years since cosmetic forces brought together Tim Commerford, Brad Wilk, Tom Morello and Zack de la Rocha to form the first and only ensemble of its kind: Rage Against the Machine. They have been labeled every genre, from rap metal to funk metal, with Morello’s righteous riffs lifting the scope of the band’s sound well into the realm of metal-dom.  De la Rocha’s impelling vocals defy all attempts to classify its range and power. He widely borrows technique from hip-hop to punk-rock, and then fuses them to form an alloy metal flow over political poetry.  To commemorate the music of a group that politicized a generation, the Rage crew is releasing XX on Tuesday, November 27, 2012. It is essentially a grab bag of both demos and remastered tracks, with both a full concert as well as early concert footage so that fans can see the humble beginnings of what became a force to be reckoned with.

The deluxe box set features two CDs and two DVDs, both in commemoration of a critical benchmark in the band’s history and also an opportunity to reflect on the politically conscious music produced in the last 20 years; there seems to be increasingly less, and what remains is remarkably similar to what we have heard before.  By comparison, it is clear how Rage smashed the mold, came to be the renegades they are today and set the example for the aspiring to follow.

It was Rage who held an intimate engagement with the histories that are often farthest from the reach of our collective imagination. They crafted exposés on the dark side of political and military domination, and then put those horrors to music:

“I am the Nina, the Pinta, the Santa Maria; the noose and the rapist, the fields overseer; the agents of orange, the priests of Hiroshima; the costs of my desire. Sleep now in the fire.”

It was Rage who asked, what does it mean to be the people of an empire, and they then sustained a political discourse with the youth and most dispossessed by the larger discourse on the political interests of the people, using rhyme and rhythm to communicate far and wide. It was only after listening to Rage that I, myself, began to grapple with the uncomfortable reality that what is for the good of the nation may not be what is good for the people, and maybe I, too, was to be a renegade.

As Rage worked to politicize my generation with flows like these, “We’re renegades, we’re the people with our own philosophies. We change the course of history, everyday people like you and me,” the political landscape was transforming in ways that may even remain to be seen, but it is clear that Rage brings the long-standing, robust political reflection that many other artist may only gesture to in their own work, or that other artists only ever take up while on stage and feeling particularly honest.

It was Rage that formed as a direct result of the political pressure bearing down on them, as the group was conceived amidst of the torrid city of Los Angeles in the 1990s. It was the weight of a system of institutions and ideologies that had left them with no place to vent nor find redress. It seems Rage emerges at the most politically timely of moments, even reuniting in 2007 in response to the political climate created by the Bush regimes War on Terror, which they actually perceived as a Reign of Terror—and the people showed up to see them rage on. Of all my Coachella nights in front of the main stage, it was on this night of Rage where the energy was the most palpable, the most moving and awe-inspiring.

It was always Rage that pushed both the envelope and the issues, unlike most contemporary sounds designed for mass, thoughtless consumption, often relying on the same topical hot button issues to create a stir; sex, drugs and scandal.  The provocative nature of the music came from the sound itself; I dare you to listen to ‘Testify’ and not testify, or even listen to ‘Wake Up’ and not feel a jolt compelling you to your feet. It is because Rage commands and demands the engagement of their audiences that they are simply unmatched as far as other live acts of politically driven performance art.

Indeed, the last 20 years are but a shadow of the towering edifice that Rage has built. Before Rage, who knew that metal could not only move people, but also inform people of their plight and then move them to action?  It was Rage who showed us the way, so don’t miss this opportunity to take stock of how far their music has come and to be mindful that our struggle continues. And if you missed Rage live, this box set is definitely your best bet!

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Newly remastered for this anniversary release, Rage Against the Machine – XX will be available as a CD in three configurations:

1) 20th Anniversary Edition Deluxe Box Set housing two CDs, two DVDs, one 12″ 180gm vinyl LP, one 40 page booklet and two-sided poster;

2) 20th Anniversary Special Edition featuring two CDs and a bonus DVD featuring six tracks in an oversized softpack and

3) 20th Anniversary Edition single compact disc (with three bonus tracks). 12″ 180gm vinyl editions–a picture disc and a facsimile reproduction–of the original LP, remastered (no bonus tracks) will also be available.

Compact Disc One of the newly remastered Rage Against the Machine – XX will include the original album, in its entirety, as well as three collectible b-sides from era.

Compact Disc Two presents the original Rage Against the Machine demo tape. Recorded in 1991 and sold for $5 at the merch table at early Rage shows, the tape achieved mythical word-of-mouth status amongst music fans while helping to seal the band’s deal with Epic Records. The 20th anniversary releases of Rage Against the Machine – XX marks the first time the entire RATM demo tapes have seen a full official release.

DVD #1 included in the Deluxe Box Set features Rage Against the Machine’s historic free concert in Finsbury Park on June 2010, performed as a thank-you to UK fans for making “Killing in the Name” the UK’s Number One Single during Christmas week 2009. Also included are the band’s groundbreaking music videos plus live concert performance clips.

DVD#2 takes you back to the release of Rage’s debut album focusing on live performance from 1991-1994, featuring the full set of RATM’s first public performance as well as various live, rare clips.

Rage Against the Machine – XX will include new liner notes penned especially for the band’s 20th anniversary by longtime fan and hip-hop pioneer Chuck D.

I. Rage Against the Machine – XX (20th Anniversary Edition Deluxe Box Set)
2 x CDs + 2 x DVDs + 180gm LP
12″ lift-off box
40 page booklet
2 sided poster

CD 1  – Rage Against The Machine – Remastered
01. Bombtrack
02. Killing In The Name
03. Take The Power Back
04. Settle For Nothing
05. Bullet In The Head
06. Know Your Enemy
07. Wake Up
08. Fistful Of Steel
09. Township Rebellion
10. Freedom
Bonus Tracks (b-sides)
11. Bombtrack (live, taken from Bombtrack single)
12 Bullet in the Head (live, taken from Bullet in the Head single)
13. Take The Power Back (live, taken from Freedom single)

CD 2 – “The Original Demos” – first official commercial release (except where noted)
01. Bombtrack
02. Take The Power Back
03. Bullet in the Head
04. Darkness of Greed (previously released)
05. Clear the Lane (previously released)
06. Township Rebellion
07. Know Your Enemy
08. Mindset’s A Threat
09. Killing In The Name
10. Auto Logic
11. The Narrows
12. Freedom

DVD #1
“The Battle of Britain” – previously unreleased
FINSBURY PARK, LONDON ENGLAND (JUNE 6, 2010)
1. Testify
2. Bombtrack
3. People Of The Sun
4. Know Your Enemy
5. Bulls On Parade
6. Township Rebellion
7. Bullet In The Head
8. White Riot
9. Guerrilla Radio
10. Sleep Now In The Fire
11. Freedom
12. Killing In The Name

MUSIC VIDEOS
“Killing in the Name” (1992)
“Bullet in the Head” (1993)
“Bombtrack” (1993)
“Freedom” (1993)
“Bulls on Parade” (1996)
“People of the Sun” (1996)
“No Shelter” (1998)
“Guerrilla Radio” (1999)
“Sleep Now in the Fire” (2000) – first official commercial release
“Testify” (2000) – first official commercial release
“Renegades of Funk” (2000) – first official commercial release
“How I Could Just Kill a Man” (2000) – previously unreleased

LIVE MATERIAL FROM 1997 VIDEO COMPILATION – first time on DVD
“The Ghost Of Tom Joad”
“Vietnow” – Irvine, CA – 1997
“People Of The Sun”
“Bulls On Parade”
“Bullet In The Head”
“Zapata’s Blood” – Rock Am Ring Festival, Germany – 1996
“Know Your Enemy”
“Bombtrack”
“Tire Me” – Reading Festival 1996
“Killing In The Name” – Pink Pop Festival – 1994

DVD #2 – all previously unreleased

“First Public Performance”
CAL STATE NORTH RIDGE, CA (OCTOBER 23, 1991)
1. Killing In The Name
2. Take The Power Back
3. Autologic
4. Bullet In The Head
5. Hit The Deck
6. Township Rebellion
7. Darkness Of Greed
8. Clear The Lane
9. Clampdown
10. Know Your Enemy
11. Freedom

PINK POP 1994 – “Freedom”
VIC THEATRE 1993 – “Take the Power Back”
JC DOBBS 1993 – “Fistful of Steel”
SOUNDSTAGE PERFORMANCE 1992 – “Bombtrack”
Halfway House 1992 – “Wake Up”
Castaic 1992 – “Settle for Nothing”
San Luis Obispo 1992 – “Clear the Lane”
CWNN 1992 – “Untitled”
Zed’s Records 1992 – “Darkness of Greed”
NOMADS 1992 – “Wake Up”

* * * * *

II. Rage Against The Machine – XX (20th Anniversary Special Edition)
Oversized softpack

CD 1  – Rage Against The Machine – Remastered
01. Bombtrack
02. Killing In The Name
03. Take The Power Back
04. Settle For Nothing
05. Bullet In The Head
06. Know Your Enemy
07. Wake Up
08. Fistful Of Steel
09. Township Rebellion
10. Freedom
Bonus Tracks (b-sides)
11. Bombtrack (live, taken from Bombtrack single)
12 Bullet in the Head (live, taken from Bullet in the Head single)
13. Take The Power Back (live, taken from Freedom single)

CD 2 – “The Original Demos” – first official commercial release (except where noted)
01. Bombtrack
02. Take The Power Back
03. Bullet in the Head
04. Darkness of Greed (previously released)
05. Clear the Lane (previously released)
06. Township Rebellion
07. Know Your Enemy
08. Mindset’s A Threat
09. Killing In The Name
10. Auto Logic
11. The Narrows
12. Freedom

Bonus DVD:

Music Videos:
-Killing In The Name
-Bombtrack
-Freedom
Take The Power Back (Vic Theatre) – previously unreleased
Bombtrack (Soundstage performance) – previously unreleased
Wake Up (Nomads) – previously unreleased

* * * * *

III. Rage Against The Machine – XX (20th Anniversary Edition)
Jewel Case

CD 1  – Rage Against The Machine – Remastered
01. Bombtrack
02. Killing In The Name
03. Take The Power Back
04. Settle For Nothing
05. Bullet In The Head
06. Know Your Enemy
07. Wake Up
08. Fistful Of Steel
09. Township Rebellion
10. Freedom
Bonus Tracks (b-sides)
11. Bombtrack (live, taken from Bombtrack single)
12 Bullet in the Head (live, taken from Bullet in the Head single)
13. Take The Power Back (live, taken from Freedom single)

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