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  • The liner notes on this remaster make references to later-era “rap/metal hybrids” like Rage Against the Machine and Linkin Park. Stylistically, this debut record from one of the most successful all-Black rock bands owes more to the funk and punk and Bad Brains and Red Hot Chili Peppers than to Run DMC or Public Enemy. Here’s a song-by-song review:1. Cult of Personality. Unless you were living under a rock in 1989, you know this signature tune and hard rock classic – the powerful vocals of Corey Glover, the metal/jazz guitar explosion, the Zepplenesque drumming.2. I Want to Know. If there is a single weak track on this record, it is this very simple pop-rock tune.3. Middle Man. Although often forgotten, this funky rocker was actually the first single and breakthrough to rock radio.4. Desparate People. A dose of punk, an lyrical omage to Led Zeppelin, and a whole lotta hard rock make this one a live staple.5. Open Letter (to a Landlord). This was one of their breakthrough hits, a social commentary backed up by simple balladry versus punk sensibilities.6. Funny Vibe. On comes the tongue-in-cheek funk with “social commentary” by Chuck D and Flava Flav.7. Memories Can’t Wait. The fact that they would cover Talking Heads on their debut is not so suprising given their CBGBs background, but the blistering guitar work is shockingly good.8. Broken Hearts. With a little help from their friends (Mick Jaggar on harmonica), the band combines the blues with some hip-hop beats.9. Glamour Boys. As perhaps the most infectious hit from the summer of 1989, on this one, they combine elements of reggae, funk, and metal and a little help from Mick Jaggar (who contributed background vocals and production).10. What’s Your Favorite Colour? Clocking in at under 2 minutes, this is simply the funky theme song for the band and is just fun filler.11. Which Way to America? A heavy-handed bass line drives the indicting lyrics into your conciousness as a perfect end to the original record.Although I am not usually a big fan of remixes, the remix of “Funny Vibe” one, accompanied by additional production of Prince Paul and a horn section, is arguably better than the original. Furthermore, having seen them do this metal/punk laden Clash cover tune, “Should I Stay or Should I Go”, on their first tour, I was glad to see it on the first single from their second record and it is a welcome addition here. The other bonus tracks (remix of “What’s Your Favorite Color” and live versions of “Middle Man” and “Cult of Personality”) are disposable.Overall, this is a great package, and comparing it to the original CD release, benefits from remastering. I just hope Epic sees fit to do the same justice to their second record, ‘Time’s Up’ (1990), which yielded classics “Love Rears Its Ugly Head” and “Solace of You”.

    Posted on February 8, 2010