In the first-ever public appearance by Rage Against the Machine (October 23, 1991, at Cal State Northridge), you see Brad Wilk in familiar no-holds-barred mode, a clumsy-fingered Tom Morello (if there can be such a thing), a nervous Tim Commerford on bass, and on the side of the stage, Zach de la Rocha not knowing where to put his hands, anxiously waiting for the band's instrumental intro to "Killing in the Name." When De la Rocha finally walks to the center of the stage, grabs the mic, and joins the others for "Take the Power Back," you begin to understand why RATM took the world by storm. This (and other) early shows can be seen in this must-have reissue of the band's seminal debut, which did the unthinkable: it took a radical leftist band that mixed rap and metal to the mainstream. The reissue comes in three formats, but the deluxe version is worth every penny: It includes the legendary demo of that first album (sold for $5 at the merch table during shows), full concerts (the 1991 Cal State one and 2010's Finsbury Park in the U.K.), and a bunch of videos. The music has aged so well you may even forgive them for suggesting Abimael Guzmán (the leader of Peru's Maoist Shining Path guerrillas) was a good guy (the terrific "Bombtrack" video). Sadly, every word Zach spits is still relevant today. So is the music.
★★★★★ (out of 5 stars)