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Sunday, 26 November, 2000, 08:18 GMT
CD Review: Rage Against The Machine
Rage Against The Machine
Rage Against The Machine: Renegades (Epic)
Zack de la Rocha goes out with a bang rather than a whimper on his final album with Rage Against The Machine.

Swansong seems too polite a word to describe the frontman's farewell appearance with the band, as he rips into a dozen classic tracks like a buzzard with the munchies.

It's a fitting end to his ten-year tenure at the microphone, and of course the group's tinnitus-plagued following would expect nothing less from the voice behind one of America's most explosive rap-metal outfits.

At first sight an album of cover versions seems an oddly traditional step for a band like RATM to take. Take a closer look at the track listing, though, and it starts to make sense.

The band have always taken a keen interest in politics - if not the kind mulled over in Florida courtrooms - and their militant agenda is reflected in this selection of Rick Rubin-produced songs.

Rage Against The Machine
Renegades is the final RATM effort featuring Zack de la Rocha (front)
The Rolling Stones' Street Fighting Man, Springsteen's The Ghost Of Tom Joad and Dylan's Maggie's Farm are included in the roll-call, together with politically-charged hip hop tracks from the likes of Afrika Bambaata and Cypress Hill.

True to their revolutionary credentials, RATM are quick to take a sledgehammer to some of music's most sacred monuments. Songs are radically reworked, and if the results are sometimes mixed - they are never predictable.

The album peaks with a funky and furious version of Afrika Bambaataa and Soul Sonic Force's Renegades Of Funk - as the band seamlessly substitute guitar, bass and drums for the electronic wizardry of the early 1980s original.

There are solid, metallic reworkings of Cypress Hill's How I Could Just Kill A Man and Eric B and Rakim's Microphone Fiend - plus predictably full-blooded tributes to Detroit legends MC5 and The Stooges.

The quality and underlying simplicity of Bob Dylan's songs normally allow them to be moulded to almost any format, but on this occasion a rap-metal version of Maggie's Farm proves to be a revamp too far.

Rage Against The Machine
The band will continue after de la Rocha's departure
Only the lyrics remain on a riff-heavy track replete with bludgeoning drums and wailing guitar lines. It's a brave attempt at something different, but Dylan's wry words tend to get lost amid the thunder.

Street Fighting Man - swapping "sleepy LA town" for London - lacks the slyness of the original, but The Ghost Of Tom Joad is more effective.

Bruce Springsteen's powerful slice of social commentary is given a suitably epic treatment, as guitars whirr like police helicopters and Zack hollers out the words with passion.

There's an unusually gentle version of Devo's ironic Beautiful World - with Zak sounding a little like Bono - and a couple of extra live tracks are thrown in for fans in selected countries, including the UK.

If nothing else Renegades should provide some solace for fans left disappointed by de la Rocha's recent decision to quit the band.

Zack is apparently preparing to release a solo album, with DJ Shadow and Roni Size among the rumoured collaborators, while the rest of RATM have pledged to carry on without him.

Cypress Hill's B Real is among those currently being touted as a possible replacement.

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19 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Rage frontman quits band
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