Rage’s second album, 1996’s Evil Empire was a (bit) more refined outing when compared to their debut album (that which was released four years earlier), 1992’s Rage Against the Machine. A classic, though not as highly regarded as their debut, Evil Empire recently received the Newbury Comics treatment, with this red colored vinyl pressing of 1200 copies. In any color or limited run, this album is a no-brainer.
I’ve all but forgotten about Rage Against the Machine these days, but that certainly wasn’t always the case. Their first two studio albums, 1992’s Rage Against the Machine (this) and 1996’s Evil Empire were on constant (near non-stop) rotation during my searching (high school) years. It’s rather difficult to listen to either album and not think of my 13-year-old self riding bikes and shooting hoops… to a steady stream of damn good music (311, NOFX, Ministry, Operation Ivy, and Faith No More come to mind). I broke out Rage the other day after a decades-long hiatus, and it still sounds just as bit as perfect as it did to my adolescent and foolish ears some 26 years ago. Carry that torch, kids.
Remember when Best Buy (the slowly dying, North American electronics conglomerate) gave away 7” records? I have more than a few “promotional giveaways” from my short-lived DVD and CD collecting days of the late 90s and early 2000s, a few of them acquired by the big, yellow and blue super-store (an Intergalactic “jukebox only” 45 by the Beastie Boys, and a white vinyl copy of Another Brick in the Wall (Part II) Live by Pink Floyd).
Now, my memory could very well be rewriting history here, but I distinctly remember buying RATM’s The Battle of Los Angeles (on CD), and getting with it this transparent red No Shelter 7”. I remember thinking how odd and out of place it was for Best Buy to even have records, let alone be giving them away, a sensation all but lost just recently upon the realization that certain Best Buys now carry severely overpriced vinyl reissues. I should be happy that the vinyl-collecting community is large enough for Best Buy to take notice, I suppose, and even though my Best Buy shopping days are almost completely exclusive to gifted gift cards, it’s comforting to remember a distinctive era in music collecting history (regardless of how individual and / or particular to me).
Jamie Fisk looking album covers aside (and yes, that’s a deceased spider preserved on the “R” in EMPIRE), RATM’s Evil Empire was 1) released, on vinyl, but more importantly, and without my knowledge (imagine that) 2) with a badass slipmat…
Upon the looking’s up of my vinyl copy of 1999’s The Battle of Los Angeles (complete with fist-raising slipmat), I was reluctant to discover that 1996’s Evil Empire also featured a limited edition slipmat… message to self: gas up the DeLorean and get your ass to 1996’s Madison, WI State St. Exclusive Co. and obtain this Evil Empire slipmat by any, preferably violent, means necessary!
Still a worthy listen, Rage documents a very dark and exciting era of my adolescent life. Hey Lancer & the Mij, remember seeing Rage w/ the Beasties at Alpine Valley performing at the Tibetan Freedom Concert back in ’98?! Yeah… we’re old.