Hola vinyl vultures and welcome back to Viva La Vinyl, Music Feeds‘ bi-monthly record club where all the cool kids hang out and shoot the sh*t about some of the most iconic albums that every collector should own.
This time around, we’re un-sleeving one of the most powerful debut LPs of all time — the self-titled virgin offering from Rage Against The Machine. And appropriate timing too, since the legendary disc is just about to turn 25 in November. Yep, it’s been around since before Justin Bieber was even an itch in his dad’s bollocks.
Here’s why Rage Against The Machine is a deadset must-have for any self-respecting vinyl head’s record crate, as long as you’re not opposed to a bit of cussin’, that is.
Bring that shit in!
A Bit Of Background…
If you need a quick refresher, RATM’s powerhouse debut LP dropped on November 3rd, 1992 and basically set the world aflame. From its game-changing brand of politically-fuelled rap-rock to its confronting cover art (featuring a photo of the self-immolation of Thích Quảng Đức, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who set himself on fire in Saigon in 1963 to protest President Ngô Đình Diệm’s oppression of the Buddhist religion) the record commanded the world’s attention. And it bloody well got it.
Rage’s debut hit triple-platinum status and is oft-cited as one of the greatest debut albums ever released by any artist, ever. It hit #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and #45 on the Billboard 200 chart, and despite not being an immediate smash at the time of its release, has since been named in more “Best Heavy Albums Of All Time” lists than you can poke a drumstick at, including from the likes of Q Magazine, Rolling Stone and Guitar World.
In 2009, RATM played ‘Killing In The Name’ live on the BBC Radio 5 primetime brekky show in the midst of a successful internet campaign to boost the single to Number #1 on the UK Christmas Charts, which had traditionally been dominated by X-Factor winners. Despite being asked not to sing the final refrain of “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!”, Zack de la Rocha (naturally) sang it anyway.
BBC cut the song about four “fucks” in but the damage had already been done. The red-faced station was forced to apologise for offending the entire country with RATM’s furious f-bombs.
Every one of the 10 anthems on Rage Against The Machine packs its own political message and burns with a fiery sense of purpose. But it’s most triumphant when the tension boils to a huge middle-finger-in-the-air climax. The disc’s most “fuck yeah” moments happen when the needle drops on anthemic ragers like ‘Killing In The Name (“FUCK YOU I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!”) ‘Bullet In The Head’ (“A BULLET IN YOUR FUCKIN’ HEEEEAAAAD!”) ‘Know Your Enemy’ (“ALL OF WHICH ARE AMERICAN DREAMS! ALL OF WHICH ARE AMERICAN DREAMS!”) and ‘Settle For Nothing’ (“I’ve got a nine, a sign, a set, AND NOW I’VE GOT A NAME”). Guaranteed to fill you with enough adrenaline to rip skyscrapers out of the ground with a single hand.
Rage Against The Machine’s debut album was in one word, revolutionary. And not just because frontman Zach De La Rocha preached revolution against the world’s corrupt and unjust institutions with every lyric he spat, but because the explosive combo of his fiery hardcore punk-rap rhymes and Tom Morello’s howling one-man guitar work hit the music world like a nuclear missile.
Morello positioned himself on the same level as other legendary guitar innovators like Hendrix and Van Halen with his work on this record, soaking his axe in effects to imitate Bomb Squad sirens, DJ scratch-solos and other sounds that the world had never heard a guitar make before. And while De La Rocha wasn’t exactly the world’s greatest rapper, his righteous voice was louder than a bomb.
The Rage Against The Machine record does not once let up on kicking your ass with its moshpit politics throughout its entire 52-minute run-time, and each listen inspires a burst of adrenaline that has not run dry in a quarter-century.
And while Rage may not have invented the rap-rock genre itself, they managed to merge funk grooves with stomping heavy metal riffs and screaming hip-hop vocals on this album in a way that had never been done before and has never been replicated since.
It catapulted RATM to mythic rock status and would spawn a legion of rap-rock imitators for decades to come (it’s not fair to hold them solely responsible for Limp Bizkit, though).
Why Own It On Vinyl?
For heavy music lovers, Rage Against The Machine is a straight-up vinyl must-have. It’s undeniably one of the most game-changing and influential heavy records of all time, and with its silver jubilee firming fast on the horizon amid the band’s recent Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame nomination, there’s never been a better time to get some rage into your record crate. Do that, here.
While kicking the crap out of a punching bag after a shitty day at work spent contemplating your futile existence as a cog in the big machine.
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