Thursday, May 30, 2019

Middle Age Against the Machine: Tom Morello 55

I feel it's appropriate to finish off the May Days with one of the most committed Leftists and activists in modern music.
He was born this day in Harlem in NYC in 1964, just two years and change before me in Staten Island Hospital. No, I've never been back to Staten Island.
The great-nephew of former Kenyan Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta -- also, his father was the first Kenyan ambassador to the United Nations -- in terms of sociopolitical involvement he is like the proverbial apple falling close to the tree.
First coming to prominence as the guitar player in one of the 1990s' most essential groups, he's been in several superstar ensembles since as well as carrying on a parallel, more acoustic solo career the whole time.
Perhaps the axegrinder most responsible for bringing the sonic palette of Hip-Hop into Rock, there's no one alive who is gonna coax more turntable-like sounds from a Stratocaster, unless Adrian Belew someday decides he's out of step with the times and joins The Roots.
In addition to his own prolific pedigree, he is also acknowledged as the man who formally introduced the members of Tool to each other, before they were a band. So he's almost singlehandedly responsible for the two coolest Nineties bands.
A stint as an intern for California Sen. Alan Cranston in his early 20s made sure he would never go into politics as a candidate.
Seeing the machinations of The Machine up close and impersonal put it in his mind that his role would be to oppose, rather than enable, the existing order of things.
He tried several different groups before settling on one in 1991 that would prove to be one of the most popular in the world.
This group still commands reunion rumors, even though they last toured in 2007 and last made a record in 2000. If there's ever been a more viscerally political band in American history -- the only one that comes to mind to rival them is Detroit's legendary MC5 -- I cannot name it.
It is this bunch that I've decided to chronicle today, whipping up a nice composite of two legendary performances given a few months apart at two big festivals -- one of which devolved into a near full-scale riot -- on either American coast 20 summers ago.
I dithered about which one to share for days until, last week, I decided to merge them into one, barely distinguishable-as-different thing.
Rage Against the Machine
Indio In Summer & the Fall of Rome
Woodstock & Coachella festivals
summer/fall 1999

01 intro
02 Testify
03 Guerilla Radio
04 Bombtrack
05 No Shelter
06 People of the Sun
07 Know Your Enemy
08 Born of a Broken Man
09 Vietnow
10 Bullet In the Head
11 The Ghost of Tom Joad
12 Sleep Now In the Fire
13 Wake Up
14 Bulls On Parade
15 Freedom
16 Township Rebellion
17 Killing In the Name

Total time: 1:17:36
Tracks 02-04 & 12: Coachella Festival, Indio CA 10.10.1999 phase corrected sbd from master VHS
Tracks 01, 05-11 & 13-17: Woodstock '99 Festival, Griffiss AFB, Rome NY 7.24.1999 sbd from master VHS

Zack de la Rocha - vocals
Tom Morello - guitar
Tim Commerford - bass & vocals
Brad Wilk - drums & percussion

PCM audio from 2 master VHS tapes' sbd audio, with the Coachella portion phase corrected and the whole set compiled & crossfaded by EN, May 2019
525 MB FLAC here
In the process of making this, I discovered that the famous bootleg of the Coachella portion was put deliberately out-of-phase to vex the archivalists and bootsellers, so I reintroduced it to correct phasing and now it sounds like 44 Hiroshimas to the power of 45 Nagasakis... or should I say 99 Weather Underground explosions, destroying 99 million Death Machine Recruitment Centers, simultaneously.
What else is there to say, except that the US -- itself a Dictatorship of Money, featuring one party with two right wings commonly called Bad Cop and Worse Cop, designed and implemented by the most consciencelessly egregious sociopaths with legalized, unlimited and anonymous bribery and for the sole purpose of delivering what remains of the Earth's looted resources into their own, omnicidal hands -- likely has to Sleep Now In the Fire for the human species to have a shred of a chance at survival? I knew you'd agree.
I'll return to boon June to the moon, but today we celebrate the 55th trip 'round the sun for Tom Morello by sharing some Rage... because as they liked to say, your anger? It's a gift, and it better be ripped from tomorrow's headlines if you want your kids to see 40.--J.