Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman World Wide Rebel Songs
by: Walter Beck
Tom Morello, guitarist for Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, has released his third full-length LP for his solo project, the Nightwatchman. World Wide Rebel Songs is a swinging, electric-folk jaunt for 21st century rebels, revolutionaries and social outlaws as Morello and his backing band rip through cut after another celebrating social justice, unions and the overthrow of the chains of oppression.
Opening with “Black Spartacus Heart Attack Machine”, a hard-rocking celebration of working people making history instead of the power-brokers, this record grabs you and doesn’t let go, celebrating solidarity in a celebratory rock n roll beat.
The album really gets swinging with the third cut “It Begins Tonight”, a cut that sounds almost like it could have come from RATM’s self-titled ’92 debut album. And with the title, well you can guess what it’s about, the Revolution (whatever that may be) beginning tonight. This cut is the first from the album that really gives a flavor of Morello’s unique guitar-soloing style; a mix of traditional and experimental that made him famous.
“Save the Hammer for the Man” is the “ballad” from this album; a slow/mid-tempo number with plenty of stadium-stretched vocals and instrumentals. Listening to this track, you can see a stadium full of waving lighters (or cell-phones, I guess no one uses real lighters at concerts anymore) and people singing along with the band.
“Speak and Make Lightning” is a boogie-woogie bar-room rocker for today’s revolutionary, it’s high-energy and lyrically uplifting, offering hope for victory against the oppressors and it makes for a good drinking jaunt while we’re on it.
“Facing Mount Kenya” is one of the more unusual tracks here as it’s neither a rocker nor a folky-type song. It has a strong drums and bass rhythms and very sparse guitar, it sounds like late-period Tom Waits in its song construction, but still one hell of a track.
The title track “World Wide Rebel Songs” is probably the strongest cut on the album as it perfectly mixes folk and electric sounds and the chorus, sung by what sounds to be an ensemble, is one of those chant-worthy lyrics that gets stuck in your head and will be heard on streets worldwide at demonstrations, rallies and protests.
The album comes to a close with “Union Town”, a feedback-opening, hard folk rocker celebration of labor and trade unions and Morello’s wish that they would get stronger and start standing up for the rights of workers nationwide and worldwide. It’s pretty strong closer for a record like this.
Morello has delivered a very strong album of folky hard rock anthems for post-modern revolutionaries and if you like your music politically-conscious and chant-worthy, pick up a copy of World Wide Rebel Songs.