“Live And Rare” is an import, so it’s pricier and harder to come by than Rage’s 2003 live album “Live At The Olympic Auditorium.” But I still prefer this C.D. to that one.
One advantage, to me, is that frontman Zach de la Rocha talks to the crowd more, here, than on “Live at the Olympic.” For instance, before track three begins, Zach tells the light man to get the spotlight out of his eye, then he gives a brief lecture to the crowd about the FBI conflicting with the American Indian Movement (and that Leonard Peltier was thrown in jail for “crimes he did not commit.”) Zach also encourages the audience members to write a letter or fill out a pamphlet and send it to “Dixie Crack Clinton” (and “fill that punk’s room full of mail”).
If, for some reason, you don’t like live songs, there are still the two rare studio songs at the end (“Greed” and “Clear The Lane”). Plus, the last four live songs (“Zapata’s Blood,” “Without A Face,” “Hadda Be Playing On The Jukebox,” and “F The Police”) can’t be found on any other Rage album.
The first five live tracks, which taken from Rage’s self-titled debut, are all very powerful and great. Some moments are so emotional and urgent, they even make the studio songs seem tame. From the beeping guitar and bass notes to the wild, crazy guitar solo, “Bullet In The Head” is perfectly executed, and, I think, even better than the original! Plus, this song’s chorus sounds like it has some backing vocals from Tom Morello. “Settle For Nothing” isn’t quite as melodic and restrained as the studio song, but it is still performed very well. Thirdly, “Bombtrack” is played without a hitch. Tom pulls off the tempo change greatly and Zach’s rapping is as fluid, fast, and consistent (he is able to rant and rage throughout the whole song without even pausing to take a breath.) This is also the case on the two following songs. Plus, I didn’t realize this before, but “Take The Power Back” also features some great musicianship and trippy guitar work (so it must have been quite hard to perform this song live.) And track five, “Intro (Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos”) is actually the song “Freedom.” On here, Zach doesn’t just whisper “anger is a gift”…he yells it!
“Zapata’s Blood” begins with the crowd clapping rhythmically. Then Zach introduces a surprise guest (Chuck D. from Public Enemy), who comes out and raps over Tom’s wah-wah guitars. Zach also starts a chant of “Everything for everyone, and nothing for myself!”
Next, “Without A Face” begins with Zach comparing the Berlin wall to the wall that separates the U.S. and Mexico. He then explains that Rage wrote this song (which appears on their “Evil Empire” album) when they found out that 1,500 dead bodies have been found there. Zach, Tom, Tim, and Brad also perfectly execute this song.
With just one, repetitive guitar line, “Hadda Be Playing On The Jukebox” is, musically, pretty simple. But this song was not written by RATM; this song (which features lyrics like “the CIA and Mafia are in cahoots”) was originally written by the poet Alan Ginsberg. It’s a long song, too, so props to Zach for memorizing the whole thing.
Next comes a cover of N.W.A.’s “F The Police.” It begins with Zach referring to the song as a “nice, friendly message,” and he then dedicates it to the Philadelphia police department. And, with angry rapping and hip-hop sound effects, it seems like Rage were almost meant to play this song.
The first of two b-sides at the end is “Darkness.” This song originally appeared on the “Crow” soundtrack. I’m a big Rage Against the Machine fan and even I’ll admit that this song isn’t that great. Fortunately the lyrics (which deal with governmental greed and lying) are very well written. The other rarity is “Clear The Lane,” which has beeping, wah-wah guitars, a grumbling bass, surprisingly calm vocals, and is really quite catchy.
So, “Live And Rare” is a great buy which is absolutely essential for all Rage Against the Machine fans. If you’re a diehard and you need another C.D. to listen to, and you don’t yet own this…what are you waiting for? This is a pricey but very highly recommended album. And, as aforementioned, you should at least get this for the two rare tracks (even though they aren’t Rage’s best songs, they’re required listening).