Tom Morello

Tom Morello & Avril Lavigne Review

Part social activist, part guitar god, Tom Morello is one of rock's most interesting figures. The Rage Against the Machine guitarist has unplugged, gone solo and donned a new guise he's calling The Nightwatchman. Tune in to hear his interview with Jim and Greg and his modern take on protest music.

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After Don Imus' news-making couple of weeks, hip hop godfather Russell Simmons is also making headlines. In light of the former MSNBC broadcaster's racially insensitive comments about the Rutgers‘ women’s basketball team, Simmons has called for hip hop producers and rappers to remove the words“bitch,”"ho," and“nigger”from the clean versions of their songs. This is a surprising statement from the Def Jam founder who himself is responsible for some very edgy rap songs, but one that is perhaps being misunderstood by the media. Neither Jim nor Greg support all out racism or misogyny in any music, but they wonder why hip hop in particular is being called out, and whether or not censorship without taking into consideration the context of an individual song is really the answer.

Next up Jim and Greg speak with David Solheim, the Student Body President/Student Regent at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. UNL just received its third batch of threatening letters from the RIAA accusing students of music piracy. This makes the school outlaw #1, but no one seems to know why. Solheim admits that illegal downloading is commonplace among students, but is confident that this behavior is no different than at any other school in the country. What does distinguish the university from others is the administration's reaction. While they did comply with the RIAA's request to forward on the letters to individual students without waiting for a subpoena, they have asked to be compensated monetarily for their action.

reviewThe Best Damn ThingThe Best Damn Thing available on iTunes

Avril Lavigne The Best Damn Thing

Avril Lavigne has the #1 album in the country this week. The Best Damn Thing is the third album for the 22-year old Canadian, and her first recording as a married lady. With this release, Avril is in a quandary common to in pop music today: how do you transition from young pop phenom to mature recording artist? Upon first glance, it appears her response is to color her music with adult words (albeit benign ones like "damn"). But, after seeing another former child singer, Christina Aguilera, bump and grind in her live show, Jim found a new respect for Avril. He would much rather purchase her pop punk songs of empowerment for his 10-year-old daughter than anything by Aguilera or her opening acts, The Pussycat Dolls and Danity Kane, and so gives Avril a Buy It for his daughter. Greg agrees that Avril is a better option for young people, but doesn‘t see any improvement on this album from her previous two.“It’s disposable,”he explains, thus giving The Best Damn Thing a Trash It rating, even for his daughters.


Tom Morello

Many fans know Tom Morello through his electric guitar innovations in Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. So it was a surprise to hear he had unplugged and donned a new guise as The Nightwatchman. The Chicago native has a new solo album out called One Man Revolution, and during a visit home he stopped by the Sound Opinions studio to show off his new incarnation. During his discussion with Jim and Greg it starts to make more sense why the famed electric guitarist would go acoustic. Tom has always been a fan of folk rockers like Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. And, the one man + guitar formula lends itself to the political content Tom has always been known for.

Tom explains that he was seeking a political and musical outlet that would fulfill that side of his personality. The hard rocking side gets fulfilled by the arena rock group Audioslave. However, Tom reveals that the band might be no more. He and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell were both in Chicago at the same time, but haven't communicated in a while. Luckily friend and producer Rick Rubin encouraged Tom to branch out on his own with this record. And of course, Jim notes that the guitarist always has a political career to fall back on. Like his mother Mary Morello, Tom has always been a social activist. He also worked for Senator Alan Cranston for a number of years.

One person Tom Morello did hook up with while he was in town is fellow Rage Against the Machine member Zack de la Rocha. The Rage frontman joined Morello in a couple of protest rallies in support of low-wage immigrant farmworkers. And of course, as fans have been anticipating, the two will appear with Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk for Rage Against the Machine's first performance in seven years at this weekend's Coachella Music Festival. For a sneak preview, check out Morello's rendition of the band's song "Guerrilla Radio," as well as an exclusive bonus track.

Featured Songs

  1. Run D.M.C.,“It's Like That,”Run D.M.C., 1984
  2. Richard March,“Nebraska,”These Dreams, 2004
  3. Avril Lavigne,“I Can Do Better,”The Best Damn Thing, 2007
  4. Avril Lavigne,“Girlfriend,”The Best Damn Thing, 2007
  5. Avril Lavigne,“I Don't Have to Try”The Best Damn Thing, 2007
  6. 8ball and MJG,“Turn Up the Bump,”Ridin High, 2007
  7. Rage Against the Machine,“Bulls on Parade,”Evil Empire, 1996
  8. Tom Morello as The Nightwatchman, House Gone Up in Flames, One Man Revolution, Live in Studio, 2007
  9. Tom Morello as The Nightwatchman, Flesh Shapes the Day, One Man Revolution, Live in Studio, 2007
  10. The Nightwatchman,“One Man Revolution,”One Man Revolution, 2007
  11. Rage Against the Machine,“Killing in the Name,”Rage Against the Machine, 1992
  12. Rage Against the Machine,“Sleep Now in the Fire,”The Battle of Los Angeles, 1999
  13. Tom Morello,“Guerilla Radio,”The Battle of Los Angeles, 1999 Live in Studio
  14. Kings of Leon,“Charmer,”Because of the Times, 2007
  15. Dead Infection, "Take Your Pants Off", 2007

Footnotes The Don Imus Fallout Russell Simmons Imus in the Twilight Def Jam Russell Simmons vs. Bill O'Reilly University of NebraskaLincoln RIAA Criminology Study: Piracy Avril Lavigne The Best Damn Thing Avril Lavigne Marries Deryck Whibley Christina Aguilera Danity Kane Tom Morello Rage Against the Machine Audioslave The Nightwatchman One Man Revolution Rick Rubin Mary Morello Alan Cranston Zack de la Rocha Rally attended by Morello and de la Rocha Rage Against the Machines Coachella Music Festival