Album: Live and Rare
Artist: Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine was:
Zack de la Rocha - vocals
Tom Morello - guitars
Tim Commerford - bass/backing vocals
Brad Wilk - drums
Live and Rare was a C.D. released for Japanese audiences as a preview for their tour of Japan. Here, Rage allows the listeners to hear some of their best stuff over their 6 year career(as the C.D. was released in '98), but also lets the listeners in on their political standpoints. As well as numerous live performances, RATM also gives us two studio tracks that aren't on any other album and aren't performed live often.
I'm a big fan of RATM, but I will try to keep this as unbiased as possible.
1. Bullet in the Head (L): 5:42
2. Settle for Nothing (L): 4:57
3. Bombtrack (L): 5:53
4. Take the Power Back (L): 6:11
5. Freedom (L): 5:58
6. Intro (Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos) (L): 3:40
7. Zapata's Blood (L): 3:47
8. Without a Face (L): 4:04
9. Hadda Be Playin' on the Jukebox (L): 8:02
10. Fuck tha Police (L): 4:07
11. Darkness (R): 3:41
12. Clear the Lane (R): 3:48
1. Bullet in the Head: Starts out with Zack stating which song they're about to play, and then the bassline comes. The song has the interesting effect Morello gives which sounds sort of like metal scraping against metal. The solo starts out with only one note and then goes into some funky wah variations. Morello then demonstrates the scratching he made famous in "Bulls on Parade". At 2:02, he goes into a short blues based solo and ends it. The lyrics tell of the American media, as most of Rage's lyrics do, using the minds of the people to sell their opinions and the people following them 100% of the way(Just victims of the in house driveby/They say jump, you say how high). Zack does an excellent job of getting his point across. The only thing I never could stand about this song was the solo, however. As ingenius as the palm-scraping was, I never caught on to his use of the effect.
2. Settle for Nothing: A morbid track. The bassline supports the guitar well, giving it a sort of depressing feel. The guitar itself is composed of howls and screeches with volume swells. Zack quietly says most of the verse, but finally screams his trademark scream at the end(I've got a nine, a sign, a set, and now I've got a name!). Morello makes the song sound as angry as Zack's screaming. Even through the chorus, he makes his guitar "scream" and it works. The solo is haunting, a very fast blues based solo which compliments the mood of the song perfectly. The lyrics seem to depict Zack as the activist he is(Read my writing on the wall/No one's there to catch me if I fall/Death is on my side/Suicide!), giving us an idea how he feels and even some of his background. He makes a reference to his father when he says "A world of violent rage/but it's one that I can recognize/having never seen the color of my father's eyes.", as well as how he began to lose touch with his family. A very morbid track, but one of my favorites.
3. Bombtrack: It starts out with Zack explaining the situation of the American Indian Movement and how they support Leonard Paltier(for reference, Leonard Paltier killed federal agents in retaliation for the raid of an Indian reservation and is currently incarcerated). He does a good job of stating it, but drops the F-bomb enough so that you feel as though he has to say it to get their attention. The intro to the song is a very catchy bassline and a palm muted guitar from Tom. Tim seems to sort of mess up, but covers it up well. The verse is Zack telling us about how major corporations are killing the lower classes and that in the end, the businessmen and their corporations are going to "burn, yes you're gonna burn". The solo is effected and funky, but isn't much different than the solo on their self titled debut. The entire song is pure Rage.
4. Take the Power Back: Funky intro filled with palm muted guitars and the occasional bass from Tim. After the guitar is done, you get an awesome funky riff from Tim that he keeps throughout the verses. That bassline is what makes me like this song. Zack is yelling about how the people need to take the power back from the governments and higher authorities. The guitar is funky and the solo is fine. Morello gets up on the neck and makes it all flow in a seeminly effortless manner. Brad compliments the guitar and bass excellently. The interlude before the end sounds very cool. Zack chants "No more lies" as Morello plays a simple, but catchy bit and as Brad uses cymbals to make it seem as though the people are rising up and saying to their governments "No more lies, we need the truth". An awesome song to give people the idea that Rage bases itself on: freedom and honesty.
5. Freedom: The anger filled end to the first RATM album is number 5 on here, and I wish they had left it off. The song is excellent with its message of freedom, but there are many boring parts to it. Tim just gives a basic bassline to the verse, and the guitar comes in with the occasional effect. We can't forget the cowbell. After some silence, you'll hear Zack scream "YOUR ANGER IS A GIFT" and then you'll hear a solo by Morello which is beautiful in its own regard. The song exits with a crescendo and Zack screaming "Freedom, yeah right". I don't like this track much, but I prefer the version where they added the final lines of "Township Rebellion" to it. I never could learn to love this song as much as the others.
6. Intro (Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos) - This song features Chuck D. from Public Enemy as one of Rage's influences. This serves as an intro to "Zapata's Blood" and Chuck D. telling us who is who in the band with Zack rhyming with him. It's R&B/Rap flavored without much rock to it. It keeps the same beat and sound as the next track, but it was another one of those tracks I could never love. The bassline is catchy and Morello gives us some funky effects. The drums are good and compliment everything, but it just never appealed to me.
7. Zapata's Blood - From "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" comes "Zapata's Blood", a song about the uprising of the Zapatista movement in Mexico and how they're fighting the government for their land. Zack even gets the audience to chant with him the Zapatista motto of "Everything for everyone and nothing for ourselves." The entire song is a support song for the Zapatista and really is a background of the entire movement. Morello gives an offbeat effect which sounds like an organ to a certain extent and closes the song well. The bassline and the drums are identical to "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" and help keep the tone of the song as depressing as it's meant to be. Another Rage song I can understand, but was never really able to get into the song's sound. Still, excellent message with its lyrics should give this one at the most 4/5.
8. Without A Face - This song is straight from the "Evil Empire" album. Morello gives us some funky wah ridden guitar effects while Tim gives an excellent bassline to accompany Zack's vocals and the drums. Zack tells us about how people trying to cross the border between the U.S. and Mexico are being gunned down, leaving their families back home with nothing. Zack is obviously angry that these people are being treated as nobodies and yells the chorus, which sounds effectively haunting "Walk unseen past the graves and the gates/ born without a face/ one motive/ no hope". The solo is heavily effected, but with occasional bursts that sound like machine gun fire, possibly representing the people being murdered at the borders. The end has everyone picking up with a new sound and Zack screaming "You say fortify/ reaction/ you divide/ you say fortify/ reaction/ reaction". It's a good song, but most people look down at it because most people agree that "Evil Empire" was one of the more unnoticable albums.
9. Hadda Be Playin' on the Jukebox - It's an original poem by Alan Ginsberg which Zack recites for 8 minutes while Tom, Tim, and Brad give him a beat and backing music. It's an interesting track, but it doesn't represent Rage as much as it does the views of Mr. Ginsberg. It gives us insight into another inspiration of RATM, but it doesn't seem necessary.
10. Fuck tha Police - A song of protest against the Fraternal Order of Police in Philadelphia, whom Zack blames for allowing Mumia Abu Jamal, a death row inmate convicted of murdering a policeman, to rot in prison for a crime he did not commit. For everyone who doesn't know, Mr. Jamal was convicted before a white jury in 1981 of killing a white policeman. Mumia was a black journalist who reported on the errors of the police in Philly. He was also a Black Panther. The evidence relating to the case all points away from Mumia, but he has been denied retrials to prove this. This song is a big "Fuck you" to the police in Philly. Coincidentally, RATM is banned from the airwaves in one of Philadelphia's rock stations. This song has funky guitar and bass and the drums are good too. Zack does a good job of making himself sound polite at first, then goes into his giant "Fuck you". No real solo, but the point is to get people to look into the corruption of the authorities.
11. Darkness - One of my favorite Rage songs. It has a very jazzy feel to it and the verse is very funky. Zack does a little interlude about how AIDS is killing the entire African nation and how the government doesn't care because if they all die, the land is the government's. It's a song about the greed of the governments of the world. The solo is amazing. It has a sad feel to it and is very bluesy. Morello displays some of his speed and articulation with this solo and it is one of the better solos I've heard from him. Tim's bassline is very catchy, and Zack's vocals go from loud to quiet to loud to quiet throughout the entire song. It's different from most Rage songs, but it's one that works. This song was originally featured on the soundtrack to "The Crow" and given the plot of the movie, it fits it all perfectly.
12. Clear the Lane - This is a song featured on Rage's demo tape, but never made it to the self-titled album. It's a song that doesn't really tell us much about Rage. More like a "get out of the way, we're here" song. It's Zack saying "I'm gonna bring down all of you hypocrits who run the country" basically. There's a good bassline by Timmy C., as he was known at this time, and Morello's solo is very fast and well done. I don't like the effect he keeps throughout the song however. You hear Tim in the chorus, but it's nothing very special. Compared to how the other material on the first album was, I'm not surprised this was cut.
- displays Rage's ability to maintain a powerful live performance
- the guitar and bass are almost better than they were on the albums
- interesting background history is given throughout
- rarities are given to us
- some poor track choices
- Zack tends to swear a bit much when he's trying to get his point across. It's hard to take him as seriously as he wants to be taken.
- the lyric booklet inside the C.D. case is terrible. The lyrics are off on more than one song. Nothing big, though. You can hear what Zack says perfectly anyway.
My overall rating: 3.45/5
It's a good album to display Rage's live ability, but some of the tracks shouldn't have been added. I don't agree with the additions of "Hadda Be Playin' on the Jukebox" or "Intro (Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos)", as well as "Freedom". I recommend this album to anyone who loves Rage and wants to hear their earlier live performances. Also, the rarities are cool as well.
Hope this was alright for my first review.