The name says everything about Rage Against The Machine. The aggressive musical blend of metal guitar and hip-hop rhythms is an appropriate background to the rap-styled delivery of angry, confrontational, political lyrics, addressing the band's concerns over inner city deprivation, racism, censorship, propaganda, the plight of Native Americans and many other issues as the band strive to be more than mere entertainment. Formed in Los Angeles in 1991 by former Lock Up guitarist Tom Morello and ex-Inside Out vocalist Zack de la Rocha, with bassist Timmy C and drummer Brad Wilk, Rage Against The Machine signed a major record deal with, importantly, creative control on the strength of a demo tape and some impressive early live shows. Further live work with Pearl Jam, Body Count, Tool and Suicidal Tendencies ensued, with the band encountering trouble with the French government during the Suicidal tour over t-shirts which showed a genuine CIA instructional cartoon on how to make a Molotov cocktail, taken from documents made for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels. The t-shirts were confiscated and destroyed by French Customs. The band subsequently released a self-titled debut, with a stunning cover photograph of a Buddhist monk burning himself to death in protest at the Vietnam War, and rose rapidly to fame, Henry Rollins describing them as 'the most happening band in the US'. The album was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, and Rage Against The Machine scored single success with 'Killing In The Name', although de la Rocha was distinctly unhappy with a radio edit which removed all expletives and 'completely shut down the whole purpose of that song'. A sell-out UK tour in 1993 was followed by further powerful performances on the Lollapalooza festival tour in the USA. Evil Empire became a much more successful album, reaching number 1 in the USA. Tracks such as the highly political 'Vietnow' and 'Down Rodeo' showed the band at their angriest and most potent. Beyond the swearing are some of the most honest and powerful lyrical statements of the 90s.
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