This countdown is inching closer to the finish. The bottom-half of the list is complete as I welcome the artist filling the number six spot.
When rap/hip-hop emerged in the 80s many thought it was a passing phase and the analogies to disco flew like bullets from a moving car. Two decades later, hip-hop is not only here to stay but a fully-formed musical fury.
Rap shares much with its uncle hard rock. It has attitude, opinions and gets the blood flowing. The artist at number six was the first artist to take the RUN DMC/Aerosmith experiment and gestate it into a trained battalion.
It is my pleasure to welcome....
Rage Against the Machine
...to the number six spot in the list of the top ten most important artists (with debut albums released on or after 1990).
As we endure bands like Limp Bisket, Linkin Park, Disturbed and the like, it is easy to forget that there is only one band that married the young and edgy rap maiden to the mature heavy metal groom. Unlike the rap/metal melds of today, Rage brought more to the ceremony than just middle-class white kids rapping over the crunch of a metal guitar licks.
There was nothing cut-rate about the band. Tim Commerford, if there was a top ten list for bassists, would surley make it high in the ranking. Like a living funk sample after a three-week bender, his bass embodies the word RAGE. Heavy hits that never sounded like rap and never sounded like metal but somehow sounded like both. He was the centerpiece to the RAGE machine.
Great bands understand that bass is, in reality, a percussion instrument. The mistress at the wedding that kissed the sounds from Tim's bass in the coat room, Brad Wilk's drums proved that innovation was still possible with two sticks and stretched animal flesh. When you listen to RAGE you almost forget that the drums and bass are separate. Brad is one of the greatest drummers in the history of rock.
The voice and message of Rage emanated from Zack de la Roche. Even when his charged political lyrics went against your own personal beliefs you still sang along and you still absorbed the... well.... (can't avoid it).... you still absorbed The Rage. Zach's lyrics and delivery was the first guy in the bar to throw a punch. He knew what he believed, he shoved it down your throat and you swallowed and asked for more.
Tom Morello finished out the quad by taking the attitude of his Kenya-revolutionary father and raising his fist by striking the strings. He may not be one of the greatest guitar players of all time but he was the perfect best-man at the wedding.
1992 brought their self-titled debut album. Bombtrack, the first song, made it clear from the start that nobody had the guts to be Rage but Rage. If you wondered if they also carried the attitude and rebellion of both rap and metal you only had to listen to the second track, Killing in the Name of.
The milk-toast wannabees that tried to set up metal and rap for a long weekend of pillow fighting seem thin. Limp is, well, limp and Disturbed is all too predictable and sane to live up to the name. Rage was honest and Rage was good. Real fucking good.
Here is the list so far:
6) Rage Against the Machine
7) Smashing Pumpkins
8) Tori Amos
Here are the six remaining artists that will fight for the last five spots
Stay tuned to find out who fills the number five spot AND who, of the remaining six, will get thrown off the island. Keep your theories coming on how the end of this list will shake out.