Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Rage against the machine

People who take these things far too seriously are campaigning to get Rage Against The Machine’s 1992 song Killing in the Name to the number one spot ahead of the X-Factor winner's single.

Fine weapon of choice, is Killing in the Name: a preposterous monster of a track driven by three giant riffs and culminating in the scream-a-long adolescent mantra par excellence: “F**k you I won’t do what you tell me!”

My sixth-form cronies and I, repulsive grungy scroats all, loved it immediately. At a school disco once we somehow persuaded the DJ to play it at headsplitting volume, instantly clearing the dancefloor of handbag-waving girls and their shocked chaperones. Tanked up on two pints of White Lightning cider we hurtled, hooting like lame droogs, into a circle of crazed headbanging. It remains one of my most cherished school memories. The DJ later got into fearful trouble for broadcasting the obscenities, it was said.

Well, it was a more innocent time, they always are.

When we left school soon after and went our separate ways Martpol and I regularly posted each other homemade compilation tapes (later CDs) of our musical ‘discoveries’, painstakingly sequenced and wildly eclectic. This only dried up in the last couple of years: the problem we have encountered being that we each appear to already own every album in the universe, and thus surprising each other is impossible. We’ve got richer as music has got cheaper, leading us to over-indulge, which is why buying stuff isn’t fun anymore and nor is making painstakingly-sequenced compilation tapes and when we gain we always lose so much. We could burn the malls and head for the hills but it’s bloody cold out there in December.

14 comments:

The Old Batsman said...

Good old Rage. Fuck you I won't do what you tell me. Unless it's sign to sony and have a hit album. Arf.

worm said...

heehee I was even in a 'punk'(ie rubbish) band at school who performed said track at a school concert(YEAH!Rock n' roll!), although we had to change the 'fuck' to 'screw', which was still considered quite racy! Oh happy days.

Brit said...

Heh heh, I can't be bothered to look for it but I assume that somewhere there's an interview with 'the Rage' in which they justify the sell-out on the grounds that it will help them "get the message out there".

That was a great record though. Well actually it was Killing in the Name and a load of filler, but Killing in the Name was enough...

Gaw said...

Not familiar with that one. But the riff as well as the song's name reminds me of Killing Joke and their biggest hit 'A Love Like Blood' (naturally a far superior song, coming as it does before the fall).

I've just realised Killing Joke's front man looks like Elberry's elder brother. Or is it in fact a parallel incarnation of the Elberry?

Anyway, I wish 'A Love Like Blood' could be the Christmas number one. It has a far more seasonally appropriate message.

martpol said...

Ah, the compilation tape: mind-bending in conceptual reach, sucker-in of the wee small hours, done to a tee in that Nick Hornby book.

Actually I still make them, but now only for myself and Mrs Martpol: there are several for the motorway, one or two for unwinding on the sofa, and a forthcoming effort to encapsulate the history of soul and funk: the loving bits, the sweaty dancefloor bits, and the brushes with psychedelia. Of course one does it essentially to show off.

I try my hardest not to over-indulge in music, making myself absorb new CDs at least twice in the first couple of weeks, to absorb its essence so to speak. It's hard, though: when you have the whole sweep of popular music history, narrowing things down to what you can reasonably consume is a task of great magnitude. Perhaps I should start by ditching the stuff I own only because I think I should, even though I find it overrated and dull. I'd start with London Calling.

(By the way, I disagree on Rage Against The Machine. I think their first album is a genuine classic, although the best track also has a silly ending: check out Know Your Enemy.)

Brit said...

Bomb Track was quite fun too.

M, it's a pity you weren't around for the pop music ding dong the other week - I love the fact that your cull begins with the Clash. LOL!

Willard said...

Ah, love that rage! Got the blood pumping this morning.

martpol said...

There we are, Brit, I've left a praising comment on that one now (several weeks late).

Music journalists love themselves, of course, so it's no surprise that they invent entire cultural narratives and weave their views around them. In fact, it's just struck me that that could be the reason why no-one ever mentions Queen - they wrote great hits but were culturally meaningless, so no-one has a narrative to pin to them.

Brit said...

But that isn't just pop music, Martpol, it's everything. Which means that pop music narratives are just as valid (or not) as those in other fields. I like narratives, I just don't believe any of them.

Gaw said...

Nihilist.

martpol said...

I recommend reading Hammer of the Gods. It's a Led Zeppelin biog whose narrative is: four men find they make great music together; get paid preposterous sums of money; use it to investigate the limits of human debauchery; break up when one of them drinks themselves to death. That's pretty much it. Gripping stuff, mind.

Brit said...

I don't disbelieve them either - they're all a bit true.

Ali said...

I won the office X-Factor pool quite by accident and spent the proceeds on multiple copies of the [i]Killing In The Name Of[/i]single, which seemed the only fair thing to do with the money.

martpol said...

There now, Brit, you've made me revisit another sixth-form classic.