Rage Against The Machine
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Monday, September 29, 2008

The Fabled City Review

taken from www.allmusic.com

Review by Thom Jurek

Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello returns to the singer/songwriter alter ego he calls the Nightwatchman for 2008's The Fabled City. It needs to be said from the jump that this album stands in radical contrast to the skeletal One Man Revolution issued in 2007. Morello and producer Brendan O'Brien (who has been working with Bruce Springsteen since The Rising) decided on something more ornate than just guitar and voice, because these songs warrant it. Morello is much more a storyteller here: he offers tales of ordinary people trying to make it through another day in America. No heady platitudes, no sloganeering in the refrains, just small narratives that break outside the bounds of song and enter the world. As such Morello has succeeded in growing as a multi-dimensional songwriter and as a singer. These songs, though directly narrated, are as political as on his preceding album, but in a different way: these stories are the narratives of people we know, and often, have been. His America is the one that exists on city streets and in quiet suburbs, in malls and on country roads. The relationship between Morello and O'Brien is mutually empathic, nearly symbiotic. O'Brien resists his grander schemes in favor of organic approaches: some songs have small drum kits, others have a cello or B-3, and some have pedal steel guitars. The tempos and characters shift and change, as do O'Brien's textures. The title track with its big acoustic guitars, drum kit, and bassline ushers the album in with urgency: "Me and Javi /Shouted slogans in Spanish/Like it was our world to win/Then they moved the plant down to Ojeda/Time to bite your tongue again." Later, "an angel sad and old" who lives in an alley behind a market sings for a dollar. Morello's acoustic and the bass get fuzzed up for "Whatever It Takes," along with an urgent rhythmic pulse offering a first person narrative about a soldier who struggles as a proxy and an ally against despair, defeat, and disappearance. On "Lazarus on Down" a nylon-string guitar and a cello usher in the story of the raised biblical character abandoned and alone in Bethany; it features backing vocals by Serj Tankian. "Saint Isabelle" makes an appearance on the song named for her. Fueled by a harmonica, massive acoustic guitars, and a fast tempo, it feels more the like the Pogues doing a reel -- especially with the shouting chorus. She is a fragile and weary saint the narrator intercedes for; he prays for her as she does for his characters. "The Iron Wheel" finds Shooter Jennings lending his vocal to Morello's in a warning not to allow yourself to be crushed by life's challenges or submit blindly to authorities who are slaves to the same process. This is the first political album of 2008 where the people have a voice because the Nightwatchman keeps no critical or journalistic distance. Instead, with infectious melodies and inviting narratives, he invites us to join in, to acknowledge we are not separate from him, his characters, or their stories. With The Fabled City, Morello's growth as a topical songwriter is enormous; he's brought the singer/songwriter into a cultural discussion, a dialogue, where we can dialogue not only about characters (who are treated with dignity as speaking subjects, not merely as objects to hang a tune on) and their struggles, but also with popular music again, as a ready tool for awareness of the world around us.

15 comments:

Anny said...

Ciao Tom!!!
I think that ther's a virus in AxisOfJustice.org

File's name: 1[1].pdf
Virus'name: Bloodhound.Exploit.196

it is the second time that I try to enter in the site and my antivirus isolate a virus!

P.S. thank you for all!!

sam said...

I have always loved the inspirational songs of freedom. Especially since my own people in Hawaii have been fighting for their freedom since 1893. A slow genocide still continues.

Thomas Paine said...

Check this out:
http://digg.com/world_news/Iraqi_War_Vet_Terrorized_Long_Island_Street_Fair

COORDINADORA ESTUDIANTIL POLITECNICA (CEP) said...

Come to the festival of rabies in mexico. December 2008
http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/

Angel Cardenas said...

Hello, I am from Chile but I write in English. Tom Morello is the best guitarist of the world, it wanted to touch very much like but the fingers break me when I try to do the alone one of guitar of the song " Killing in the name of " good-bye and never separate...

belly wijaya said...

RATM is my favo band! I really loved this band! sorry my english is poor...

poopoo said...

you guys should talk about what's happening in Gaza right now.

Thomas Paine said...

do they really have to? you dont know what they would say about it?

Republik Maluku Selatan said...

i support rage against the machine..Not only for the great music but also for the statements of the band...
I live in the Holland but mine parents are from the Moluccas a small region in indonesia that's still been crushed by the Indonesian goverment. Even this days our people are being tortured only for nonviolent raising flags.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JM2C5Jf4hKI&feature=channel

If you want some more info about the history of the molucass please mail me.

Michelle Wood said...

To the kid from Libertyville with the Captain America pillowcase: One day several years ago, my brother said, "Michelle, you have to listen to this." He then played me Audioslave. I liked it. Of course, I had heard some RATM and some Soundgarden, but I didn't know enough about either band to know the members' names. I picked up the CD on my next road trip, and when I read the sticker, I freaked. "No way". I ripped it open, and there he was: an age-progressed version of my old Renaissance Festival friend. (I was the wierdo with the short bus painted in a bad attempt at tiger stripes. I visited you at Harvard.)My brother then proceeded to educate me about the 20 years of your public history that I'd missed since we fell out of touch. Just wanted to say hey, and thanks for what you are doing, and that all this couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.---mw (Facebook wildflower)

Margarita said...

The Fabled City CD is FINALLY available all the way over here in the UK, and I just wanted to say it was worth waiting for! When's the tour??

Le Chef said...

I found this interesting version of "killing in the name" with violin on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXd6LIJkMVc

Peace!

thomas said...

You're the machine...

Play International and sleep in GEORGES 5 one of the most expensive hotel in Paris.

One BMW by member...

You let me sick...

You're only here to make money?

Red star and Georges 5...

I will make a video on it (youtube)

Yes I know my enemy HYPOCRIZY

Why don't choose a hotel less expensive?

Phobos said...

Hey there, I have some artwork that I think you'll really like. I have some older stuff at www.phobosunderground.deviantart.com There will be newer stuff soon, but it would be cool if you would check that out and let me know what you think. It is a lot of radical, loaded street art styled stuff. Very political, and filled with symbolism. Thanks!

Saber Amar said...

SENDERO LUMINOSO KILLED IN THE NAME OF FREEDOM, they killed children, raped woman in front of their husbands and sons, tortured pregnant women, they stealed the food and very little resources of poor people, they killed with bombs in the middle of the city people who was sleeping in Tarata Miraflores, tarata`s people were citizens with no political connections .. they fucked down Peru, with a INCONSISTEN MESSAGE, killing unprotected and innocent people WHY???, they KILLED IN THE NAME OF !!!! these cowards assasins tried to extend their bloody party asking for foreing help, LYING UNINFORMED PERSONS WHO NEVER CAME TO PERU, Tom i love you because you are the best guitar player ever, but i hate you too, i'd like to see my fav video bootlegs without feel anger and sadness watching "sendero luminoso" in your guitar meanwhile you play killing in the name .... PLEASE COME TO PERU!!! ask street people about sendero luminoso, ask reporters, ask specialist, come to see and hear "the childrens of terrorism" they are teenagers now, mutilated, dark, sad teenagers .. come to peru TOM and see them, hear them. Stop supporting the assasins, they cheated you, now you can spread the real thruth.