Category: Uncategorized

With a Bang, Not a Whimper – Rage Against the Machine – Renegades


When Zack De La Rocha quit the band in October 2000, it effectively ended Rage Against The Machine as we know it, but at least Zack left this one last gem of a covers album in his wake. What a way to say goodbye

This compilation of 12 cover songs reminds me a lot of Guns ‘N Roses 1993 album The Spaghetti Incident in terms of conception. Both are albums of covers that just happened to be the last statement of the first incarnations of both bands.

But that’s where the similarities end. Whereas Spaghetti Incident was just a half-assed side project for GNR taken on during the recording of the Use Your Illusion albums, Renegades was well planned out by RATM. Lack of execution made Spaghetti Incident flop, but Renegades will not meet the same fate.

Renegades is a surprisingly diverse album from Rage. A good case could be made that the previous three RATM albums were too similar. The band took a good thing and overdid it, but not here.

This album is a cross-section of the band’s influences, from hip-hop to punk to speed metal to classic rock to new wave to campfire folk ballads. The band managed to take all these songs and make them distinctly its own. The album is a textbook study of how to do cover songs right.

Renegades was an exercise in song reconstruction. The band just took the lyrics of the tune and totally rewrote the instrumental accompaniment in most cases. The punk and metal songs, MC5’s “Kick Out The Jams,” “In Your Eyes” by Minor Threat and “Down On The Street” by Iggy Pop’s The Stooges were pretty much left in tact, but the others were changed radically.

The most striking change may be what RATM did to Devo’s “Beautiful World.” The 80s new wave beat was discarded, and the tune was turned into a slow, eerie, ballad in which De La Rocha actually tries singing instead of the typical angry whisper or scream. It’s totally unlike anything Rage ever did before.

I really like what they did to the classic rock songs, probably because I have a point of reference in the originals. The Rolling Stones “Street Fighting Man” is given a techno edge. Bob Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” is “Rageified” in the band’s trademark loud, slow style, where the anger just seethes out of every pore until the piece becomes a six and a half minute long jam with an extended instrumental coda. Tom Morello is a technical genius with all the sounds he can get out of an electric guitar, and I don’t use that term lightly.

Elsewhere, Bruce Springsteen’s “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” a long-time Rage concert staple, is finally given a studio treatment by the band. It is transformed from a wistful folk ballad, and made into a rocker.

Not surprisingly, De La Rocha shines most on the rap tracks, which include Cypress Hill’s “How I Could Just Kill A Man,” EPMD’s “I’m Housin’,” Eric B. & Rakim’s “Microphone Fiend” Volume 10’s “Pistol Grip Pump,” and the best one, “Renegades of Funk” by early hip-hop artist Afrika Bambaataa. The outpouring of passion and rocking instrumental backgrounds of these tracks make them compelling even to someone who dislikes the hip-hop genre.

The original pressing of the album includes two bonus live tracks, versions of “Kick Out The Jams” and “How I Could Just Kill A Man.” On the latter, Rage pays homage to Cypress Hill, who were among the earliest supporters of the band, by inviting Cypress’s Sen Dog and B-Real onstage for the song. This

By Mary Bangs

4 Interesting Ways Music Makes You Healthier


Your favorite pop song can cheer you up. Your favorite ballad can make you cry. There’s no denying music impacts our emotions.

But music’s effect doesn’t stop with feelings. Your favorite tunes actually can improve your health. Science says so!

Music reduces pain and anxiety

Studies suggest music you enjoy triggers the release of feel-good chemicals from your brain — a natural high. And that feeling helps block pain and anxiety.

Surgery patients who were treated to music reported less pain and anxiety, according to a Medical News Today report, and they were less likely to need pain medication after their procedures.

You probably don’t have a surgery scheduled, but think about how music might help with other aches. When your back is stiff or your head hurts, listening to something you enjoy can help take the edge off.

Music jogs your memory

You might not be able to remember entire semesters of high school, but you definitely remember the lyrics to your favorite childhood songs.

That’s because songs are easier for the brain to remember. And scientists believe that music-memory connection can be used to bolster your brain.

A group of adults with early-stage dementia showed better mood, episodic memory and overall well-being after 10 weeks of singing coaching or music-listening coaching. Episodic memory is a person’s unique memory of a specific event.

Music relieves stress

Like music, your body has its own tempo. Heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure all ebb and flow depending on how you’re feeling, how active you are and other factors. In a way, you’re a song.

And when your song meets another song, something amazing happens. A high-tempo tune can boost your tempo. And a calming beat can slow your tempo down.

In addition, music you enjoy can lower the stress hormone cortisol in your system.

Calming music you love can combine those two factors to relieve stress and soothe your nerves. Try it!

Music helps your brain heal

When a stroke occurs, the brain is deprived of blood. And the damage often is severe. Paralysis, loss of speech, vision problems, memory loss and behavior changes are common.

Although music can’t counter all the devastating effects of a stroke, research suggests it might help with verbal memory and attention. A study in Finland reported stroke patients who listened to at least two hours of music per day showed improvement in both areas. And those patients reported a better mood than patients who did not listen to music for two hours.…

By Mary Bangs

If HD Radio is in trouble, how about XM-Sirius?


If you haven’t been following stock prices – and you have to have a pretty strong stomach to do so – XM-Sirius stock is now trading at $0.54 and that was a 6% boost from Monday’s closing.

If that isn’t enough to keep CEO Mel Karmazin awake nights, how about this – the company has $1.1 billion in debt to be refinanced next year, and Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen wrote on Sept. 29 that the real fear around Sirius is that it won’t get the three debt deals done.

With what’s happening in the economy, you think?

And if this wasn’t enough, the company is having cash flow problems due to the fact that it has been forced (as a condition of FCC apprval of the merger) to offer ala carte programming starting at $6.99 a month, plus its subscriber base has not been increasing per projections.

Karamazin saved much of his ire for competitors such as HD radio and Clear Channel Communications’ mammoth terrestrial radio network. He was also seriously irked by the idea that car makers might be forced to add HD radio to satellite radios.

In other words, HD Radio isn’t the only form of radio experiencing problems.…

By Mary Bangs