With all the turmoil in the world, the message of Renegades is as relevant as ever. Though it’s a covers album, each song is made distinctly Rage’s.
The themes of the songs covered include street violence, civil unrest, and abuse of power. Similar in tone to their other work, artists like Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and Cypress Hill are reworked masterfully.
Today, I’ll be running through my favorite tracks from Renegades.
RATM channels Bob Dylan
RATM brings an explosive element of anger to Maggie’s Farm. Describing the hardships of working on a farm for an abusive family, it’s quite possibly an allegory for slavery.
Rage has always been about aiding the plight of suffering people, so this makes sense. Often dawning a red star, signifying “power to the people,” it’s almost as if they wrote it.
Bob Dylan is my all-time favorite artist, and he penned a masterpiece (one of many). However, his studio track is lacking. He sounds bored and tired. Rage fixes that.
Here’s a live version of the original, where Dylan sounds passionate and energized.
Shoutout to Cypress Hill
Opening with a punchy tempo and a high distorted Tom Morello guitar squeal, the track starts strong yet still builds. Zach de la Rocha sounds like a menace on the mic, only whispering during the bridge to lead to the build-up: how he could just kill a man.
The track is more bass heavy than the original, and still grooves. Even the smooth instrumental break is covered, albeit with guitar fills and bass.
The original Cypress Hill cover is classic no doubt, but this one takes it in my book.
The Rolling Stones spark inspiration
Opening with a guitar made to sound like an alarm with a Whammy Pedal and a fast cymbal and snare, it sounds of danger. Sounding musically nothing like the Stones track, this track sonically translates their lyrics to equally angry music.
Referencing Los Angeles instead of London, living through the L.A. riots gave different meanings to this song to them. Street violence was at a high in L.A. in the 1990s, with law enforcement demolishing communities.
Rage formed largely in response to the abuse of the LAPD and government structures at large. This track captures the feeling of panic one may feel when in streets full of rioting and violence.
Things get tense with Devo
Far different than the explosiveness of the rest of their catalog, this track has the tension of a bomb. At just over two and a half minutes, you feel this the song will explode at any time, and that Zach will amp up the vocals.
But it doesn’t. Being as bare as RATM has ever been, there is still so much presence and emotion here. The song sounds sarcastic with such melancholy in the music, though that seems to be the intent. The original perky track is held to the light
The final line is as biting as it comes.
To be fair, Devo was sarcastic with the original as well.
Things get funky with Pistol Grip Pump
Rage’s rock and rap skills are on full display here. Opening with Tom Morello imitating a record scratch in his trademark way, Tim C and Brad Wilk lay down a solid rhythm.
Full of energy, anger, and deep bass, the original track is elevated in all senses. The lyrics cover how when you live by the gun, die by the gun. A pistol grip pump at all times is needed.
The solo added uses a whammy to great effect once again. The chorus feels like a gunshot every time it kicks. Zach sounds like someone you don’t want none of.
Both sound badass, but Rage’s version takes the cake for me.
Rage, on friends.