This is exactly the way Rage Against The Machine was supposed to have been captured - it's live, it's raw, it's sloppy, and it's one of the most powerful records I've heard in a long time.
Live At The Grand Olympic Auditorium catches Rage at the tail end of their career as a band - it draws it's 16 tracks from the band's last two performances ever. It's strange knowing that shortly after these concerts, the band imploded; you'd never be able to tell that there was internal fighting going on.
Or maybe you can, given the explosive nature of so many of these songs. All 4 of Rage's studio albums are represented, and here's the breakdown album-by album:
S/T - Bullet In The Head, Killing In The Name, Bombtrack, Know Your Enemy, Freedom
Evil Empire - Bulls On Parade, People Of The Sun
The Battle Of Los Angeles - Born Of A Broken Man, Calm Like A Bomb, Testify, War Within A Breath, Sleep Now In The Fire, Guerilla Radio
Renegades - I'm Housin', Kick Out The Jams
The band's contribution to the Godzilla soundtrack, "No Shelter," is also present, and is easily one of the most intense tracks on the disc [which is a hard award to distribute, as it could easily go to each of the other fifteen songs on here].
Tom Morello's guitarwork, as amazing as it sounds on studio albums, sounds even more incredible here because not only does he duplicate what he did on the recordings, he adds to it. The guy's a genius. Never in the album's 71 minutes do I ever forget that this is a live album. You get to hear Zach De La Rocha run out of breath in "Calm Like A Bomb." You get to hear the band accidentally speed up and slow down multiple times in "Bulls On Parade." You get to hear bassist Timmy's barking out his backing vocals in "People Of The Sun." You get to hear Zach improvise lyrics in "Killing In The Name" ["Some of those who burn crosses / are the same who hold office"].
But most importantly, you get to hear one of the most politically radical and musically innovative groups of the past decade doing what they do best - kick out the jams.
Zach's hardcore background pops up periodically in his vocals on the disc, reminding the listener that he's more than just an MC. The intensity conveyed in his voice as he screams "Now testify!" cannot be duplicated.
My only complaint about this album is that a few of the tracks have already been released. If you own Renegades, you already posess this album's version of "Kick Out The Jams," as it was one of the bonus tracks on the CD. If you own the original version of Renegades that came with the two-song bonus CD, you already own this album's version of "People Of The Sun" [as well as an awesome version of "I Could Just Kill A Man" from the same series of concerts, unfortunately excluded from this disc]. Outside of this small detail, I can't find much in the way of anything wrong with this release, sans any sort of in-depth liner notes about the performances. Other than that, this is a near-perfect documentation of what Rage Against The Machine was all about, and you'd be a fool not to pick it up, if only to remember when bands sang about something important.