During an interview in October 2010, Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha allegedly confirmed that a new album is in the works, with a possibility of a 2011 release. All the fans waiting this since 1999 and obviously most of us hoping for more killer tracks such as “Killing in the Name”, “Bullet in the Head”, “Bulls on Parade”, “Testify” and “Guerrilla Radio”. It’s not a big secret, RATM are one of the most activist and lefty rock band of the scene, extremely involved in politics, maybe too involved. Well, growing up “behind the iron curtain” in a so-called communist system, I have a quite different experience and implicitly a totally different view about what “left” actually means. On the other hand, the troubled times we’re living in and the obvious failure of the capitalist system I thought will somehow release and satisfy these guys. Well, it seems not. It seems they wanna “slayer the dragon” right till the end and dance on his grave. Some things I can understand, others not, everybody must be aware of his own limitations. I know that the United States has had a two-party system for over a century and well, it’s not quite the “free world” we dreamed about and democracy is only an illusion while all the information we received are filtered, censored and distorted, but still, I will never ever waving a fucking red flag knowing at least what guys like Lenin, Stalin, Castro, Ceausescu and Kim Ir Sen did.
The Nightwatchman is the alter-ego and solo act of Rage Against the Machine, Street Sweeper Social Club and former Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello. It was formed in 2003 as an outlet for his political views – while some claim Audioslave was playing apolitical music, still, they played on May 6, 2005, a free show in Havana, Cuba and became the first American rock group to perform a concert in the socialist republic of Cuba.So…
Talkin’ bout “the union” (syndicate), the workers rights, freedom and so on, it might be alright and even sometimes incendiary. Morello describes The Nightwatchman as “the black Robin Hood of 21st century music” and “a reaction against illicit wars, a reaction against first strikes, torture, secret prisons, spying illegally on American citizens. It’s a reaction against war crimes, and it’s a reaction against a few corporations that grow rich off this illicit war while people beg for food in the city streets” and Morello was inspired by long-time social and political activist/musician Billy Bragg.
“Union Town” it’s a groovy, nice, folk-rock and anti-folk, protest music EP, in the best tradition of The Nightwatchman. We’ve got 8 tracks, one recorded live. There’s a killer cover of the classic “16 Tons”; “Solidarity Forever”, written by Ralph Chaplin in 1915, is perhaps the most famous union anthem after The Internationale; “Which Side Are You On?” is a song written by Florence Reece in 1931, the wife of a union organizer for the United Mine Worker; “This Land Is Your Land” is one of the United States’ most famous folk songs. Its lyrics were written by Woody Guthrie in 1940 based on an existing melody, in response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”, which Guthrie considered unrealistic and complacent; Joe Hill was a Swedish-American labor activist, songwriter, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World, was memorialized in a tribute poem written about him c. 1930 by Alfred Hayes titled “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night” and Morello, refers to him also in his song “The Union Song”.
The music is absolutely alright, but there’s a little bit too much activism in Morello’s Nightwatchman stuffs, I only hope that the new RATM will not be fulfilled with that much ideology and will focus more on music and killer songs.