Rage Against The Machine – XX (20th Anniversary Edition Deluxe Box Set)


Review by Will Harris

Rage Against The Machine’s incendiary, politically charged debut was first released on 3rd November 1992 to widespread and critical acclaim. Since then, the album has made it on to countless greatest album of all time lists while its controversial cover has adorned the t-shirts and bedrooms of teenagers all over the world. The album stood as a fierce and bombastic middle finger (major label notwithstanding) to corporate America, cultural imperialism and government oppression, all woven into an explosive soundtrack combining rap, metal and funk. Now, 20 years on, a deluxe box set of the album is released to mark the two decades since the album first blew on to the scene.

As well as a vinyl LP of the original album, the collection includes a digitally remastered copy of it on CD, plus some bonus live tracks. Rage Against The Machine is a record that has over time been lauded for its excellent production values, so unsurprisingly the remaster does little except bring a tad more presence to the album, while the bonus tracks — former b-sides from singles — are decent live renditions, but likely of little interest to most.

Similarly, Disc 2 offers Rage’s 12-track cassette demo, put onto CD for the first time, and provides an interesting snapshot of the band in their early development, but again only for hardcore fans. Songs such as ‘Clear The Lane’, ‘Mindset’s A Threat’, ‘Auto Logic’ and ‘The Narrows’, which didn’t appear on the major label release, indicate how the LA four-piece dropped a large portion of its funk sound for only the hardest, heaviest cuts. The early version of the now legendary ‘Killing In The Name’, meanwhile, sounds muddled, slow and repetitive compared to its punchier and more forward successor.

It was the triumph of ‘Killing In The Name’ as UK Christmas Number 1 over The X Factor winner Joe McElderry in 2009 that motivated Rage Against The Machine to put on their free show at Finsbury Park, London in the summer of 2010, and this fantastic celebratory performance is the lead feature on Disc 3 of the set. The show, before a swarming horde of enthusiastic fans, is some of the best live footage of the band since it reformed, and testament to Rage’s enduring reputation as a fearsome live act. Official music videos and more live clips can also be found on this disc.

Disc 4 offers further historical interest, with a home video recording of RATM’s first ever public performance in 1991, and there’s a great feeling of retrospective prescience in watching the crowd gather and grow as the set goes on. The rest of Disc 4 presents a selection of live videos from club and theatre shows, plus a clip from the PinkPop Festival in the Netherlands in 1994.

As fascinating as all this might be to the Rage fanatic, much of the stuff here will do little to persuade casual listeners of the band to purchase, and those who want the brilliant Finsbury Park gig — the highlight of the collection — will likely wait for it to appear on YouTube. For the die-hards, however, it’s both an essential part of any RATM collection and a fitting tribute to one of the most politically and musically radical albums of the 90s.

7 out of 10

· www.ratm.com

· www.epicrecords.com

Track listing:

LP – Rage Against The MachineRATM XX Deluxe Box Set
Side one
1. Bombtrack
2. Killing In The Name
3. Take The Power Back
4. Settle For Nothing
5. Bullet In The Head
Side two
1. Know Your Enemy
2. Wake Up
3. Fistful Of Steel
4. Township Rebellion
5. Freedom

Disc 1 (CD) – Rage Against The Machine
1. Bombtrack
2. Killing In The Name
3. Take The Power Back
4. Settle For Nothing
5. Bullet In The Head
6. Know Your Enemy
7. Wake Up
8. Fistful Of Steel
9. Township Rebellion
10. Freedom
11. Bombtrack (live)
12. Bullet In The Head (live)
13. Take The Power Back (live)

Disc 2 (CD) – The Original Demos
1. Bombtrack
2. Take The Power Back
3. Bullet In The Head
4. Darkness Of Greed
5. Clear The Lane
6. Township Rebellion
7. Know Your Enemy
8. Mindset’s A Threat
9. Killing In The Name
10. Auto Logic
11. The Narrows
12. Freedom

Disc 3 (DVD)

“The Battle of Britain”
Finsbury Park, London, England (June 6, 2010)

People Of The Sun
Know Your Enemy
Bulls On Parade
Township Rebellion
Bullet In The Head
White Riot
Guerrilla Radio
Sleep Now In The Fire
Killing In The Name

Music videos
Killing In The Name (1992)
Bullet In The Head (1993)
Bombtrack (1993)
Freedom (1993)
Bulls On Parade (1996)
People Of The Sun (1996)
No Shelter (1998)
Guerrilla Radio (1999)
Sleep Now In The Fire (2000)
Testify (2000)
Renegades Of Funk (2000)
How I Could Just Kill A Man (2000)

Live clips
The Ghost Of Tom Joad
(Irvine Meadows, California 1997)
People Of The Sun
Bulls On Parade
Bullet In The Head
Zapata’s Blood
(Rock Am Ring Festival, Germany 1996)
Know Your Enemy
Tire Me
(Reading Festival, England 1996)
Killing In The Name
(PinkPop Festival, Netherlands 1994)

Disc 4 (DVD)

First Public Performance
Cal State North Ridge, CA (October 23, 1991)
Killing In The Name
Take The Power Back
Auto Logic
Bullet In The Head
Hit The Deck
Township Rebellion
Darkness Of Greed
Clear The Lane
Know Your Enemy

Live clips
Freedom (PinkPop 1994)
Take The Power Back (Vic Theatre 1993)
Fistful Of Steel (JC Dobbs 1993)
Bombtrack (Soundstage Performance 1992)
Wake Up (Halfway House 1992)
Settle For Nothing (Castaic 1992)
Clear The Lane (San Luis Obispo 1992)
Untitled (Cwnn 1992)
Darkness Of Greed (Zed’s Records 1992)
Wake Up (Nomads 1992)


  1. Great review Will. Do the recordings still sound “politically and musically radical”, 20 years on?

    • Thanks Brian. I think musically there still aren’t many bands around that really manage to fuse all those particular different elements so cohesively and effectively.

      Political bands have been around for decades and as long as there’s injustice and hardship in the world I’m sure they’ll continue to exist. The special thing about RATM is, whether you agree with their politics or not, it’s hard to think of anyone with such extreme political views (such as their early support of the Peruvian terrorist group Sendero Luminoso, for instance) that enjoyed such mainstream success.

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