Tom Morello is one of the most unique guitar players in the history of music. With Morello being the lead guitarist in two of the best-selling bands of the past two decades and plenty of solo albums and side projects to boot, it’s time to rank up the top ten albums featuring Tom Morello on guitar.
Worldwide Rebel Songs
As many Morello fans know, The Nightwatchman tracks are not exactly for fans of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. Morello’s Nightwatchman is in singer/songwriter style and includes mostly acoustic tracks. However, there are hints of classic Morello such as the track “It Begins Tonight” and “Union Town”, where he actually plugs in in an Audioslave/RATM esque track. The music is very politically and lyrically driven, and it’s best to be a fan of Neil Young or Bob Dylan when you give The Nightwatchman a try. However, of all Nightwatchman releases, Worldwide Rebel Songs is the Morello’s best album as The Nightwatchman.
With Revelations, Audioslave took what was done with Out Of Exile and made it more mainstream and made it more radio friendly (yes, it was possible to do so), unfortunately radio and other promotion outlets were over the supergroup by this point. Revelations was overproduced and seemingly lacking passion and sounding like a band at their end, which is exactly where Audioslave was. The best track on the album is “Shape Of Things To Come” which Morello and company should have put at the end of a greatest hits album and ended Audioslave there.
8. Street Sweeper Social Club
After releasing two albums under his acoustic Nightwatchman nom de guerre, Morello goes back to his roots in 2009 with Street Sweeper Social Club, though they’re debut album features classic style Morello guitar lines and effects, he plays as more of a rhythm guitarist for the majority of the album. This album seems to be more of a rap album, with vocals from Boots Riley being the main focus of the band. Morello rarely takes you on a journey like with Rage Against the Machine or early Audioslave. However, those who are in dire need of classic Morello there are some that fit the profile, tracks such as “Fight! Smash! Win!”, “100 Little Curses”, “The Squeeze”, “Somewhere In The World”, and “Megablast” are high points.
7. Lock Up
Something Bitchin’ This Way Comes
Lock Up features a guitar legend in training as the first major label release featuring Morello. Lock Up is reminiscent of early Red Hot Chili Peppers or Janes Addiction simply for the fact Morello’s style was similar to Hillel Slovak and at times even Dave Navarro. However, there are hints here of Morello coming into his own, such as with the tracks “Nothing New”, “24 Hour Man”, “Maniac” and “Peacekeeper”. All things considered, this album is a bit underrated, and though the elements may not work well together as a whole, the elements themselves are actually very good, Morello in particular.
Out of Exile
With Out of Exile, Morello expands what was done with Audioslave’s debut album; however it suffers from what many bands go through with a sophomore album, with the idea of doing something different but ending up not being as spectacular. There are some high-points however, the opening track “Your Time Has Come” is essential Morello, the quasi-ballad “Be Yourself” is one of the best examples of latter Morello, and “Drown Me Slowly” is probably one of the most underrated Morello/Audioslave tracks which features the best guitar work from Morello on either of the last two Audioslave albums.
5. Rage Against the Machine
Evil Empire, Morello’s second album with RATM is mostly known for the tracks “People Of The Sun”, “Bulls On Parade”, and “Down Rodeo” however it’s the tracks where he experimented with his already unique sound that gives this album some validation. The album as a whole is more unique and a bit less radio friendly than RATM previous debut self-titled release, however, with Morello experimenting with space and tempo changes on tracks such as “Revolver” and “Year Of The Boomerang” it demonstrates how Morello and the band didn’t want to do the same thing twice, and rightfully so, it didn’t hit on quite as high of level.
4. Rage Against the Machine
A collection of covers that ended up becoming the last full length album from Rage Against the Machine. The album is solid from start to finish, with Morello giving his signature twist to tracks from legendary artists like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Minor Threat, The Rolling Stones, Devo, and many others. A covers album from one of the most unique sounding bands in rock history was a must, and Morello and RATM hit a home run with Renegades.
This album, including Chris Cornell and excluding Zach De La Rocha on vocals, is the first from Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk as Audioslave. The new lead singer seemingly gave Morello the opportunity to create something he has never had a chance to do, a ballad. Tracks like “Like A Stone” and “I Am The Highway” gave Morello another dynamic in his already great resume. Additionally, “Show Me How To Live”, “Cochise”, and “What You Are” give the listener what they have always liked from Morello; great, heavy, and unique riffs.
2. Rage Against The Machine
Battle of Los Angeles
Battle Of Los Angeles is RATM final album of originals, and along with Evil Empire, Battle Of Los Angeles showcased some of Morello’s most unique guitar work, however, the experimentation with space and tempo changes seem to come to fruition on Battle Of Los Angeles, tracks like “Calm Like A Bomb”, “Ashes In The Fall”, and “War Within A Breath” are high on the list of standouts in the Morello catalog. RATM combined the dynamics of Evil Empire with the consistency of their self-titled album and the end result was Battle Of Los Angeles. RATM left on a high note with their final album of originals.
1. Rage Against The Machine
Where the signature Morello guitar style came to prominence. From start to finish, Rage Against The Machine (Self-Titled) is 53 minutes of heavy hitting riffs. Tracks like “Bullet In The Head” and “Fistful of Steel” showcase Morello’s unique style and ability for the first time. This album is nothing short of a classic.
Hear all the best from Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave at www.rockshowradio.net and www.alternativenation.net/radio. How would you rank your favorite Tom Morello albums? Feel free to comment below.