Rage Against the Machine - Renegades - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Rage Against the Machine - Renegades

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:2002-12-09

Produced by rock-rap supremo Rick Rubin, Rage Against The Machine's Renegades contains a series of cover versions whose selection seems as considered as the band's politics. And there, in part, lies the problem. Among the downright obvious there are moments of pure inspiration. They are on safest ground when rehashing hip-hop for the mosh pit: Eric B and Rakim's "Microphone Fiend", EPMD's "Housin'" and Cypress Hill's "How I Could Just Kill A Man" all rock with a furious energy. Best of all, though, is the revision of the relatively obscure "Pistol Grip Pump" by Volume 10. The bass rises and crashes like a tsunami, while Morello morphs his guitar into cheesy funk synth licks--it's as close as they'll ever get to raging against the funk, although their cover of Afrika Bambattaa's "Renegades Of Funk" comes in a close second. Elsewhere, the band's limited powers of reinvention are stripped bare when they tackle a holy grail of confrontational rock--the Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man", the Stooges' "Down On The Street" and MC5's "Kick Out The Jams". On the latter, Zack makes a valiant attempt to sing (later sounding as fragile as a butterfly on a wheel on the acoustic version of Devo's "Beautiful Farm") and makes it plain that screaming like a member of the Socialist Workers Party is clearly what he excels at. Renegades is like a lesson in "how can be I down?" historical revisionism, one that sees RATM attempting to secure their legacy up among their musical heroes. They get five out of 10 for effort. --Chris Campion

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