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on 24 November 2014
1988 - "Armageddon has been in effect....Go get a late pass. Step!" the opening cut from PE`s "Nation of Millions lp . Without a doubt, the greatest rap/Hip-Hop album ever with Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Griff, Terminator X, Johnny Juice, the S1Ws & the Bomb Squad in top form. All this & producer Rick Rubin behind the mixing desk overseeing the most revolutionary album ever made.

2014 - 26 years on & this masterpiece finally gets the deluxe treatment from Def Jam/Universal. There was talk of a 20th Anniversary set in 2008 but this came to nothing at the time. Pleased as I am that this set has finally been put out, & Ill get straight to the point here , there are some glaring omissions. Chad Jackson`s manic DMC mixes of "Rebel" & "Bring the Noise" are missing as are the Jam Master Jay remix of "Louder than a Bomb" & the remix for "Party for Your Right" - both available on "Greatest Misses" but certainly worthy of their inclusion here.

There really should have been a 4th disc of Chuck D`s home demos & alternate versions of the album (aka: "Soul of a Nation") as it has been rumoured that Chuck wanted these out years ago but Universal baulked at the idea of clearing samples for a second time! A complete disc of instrumentals - or even the un-released versions recorded by PE`s backing band, The Banned - might have swayed it for some fans to buy the cd again.

The dvd is a nice touch as the VHS tape has never been released officially in this format. "Cold Lampin` With Flavor" appears to be missing which if true, is a criminal omission. Some period era Yo! MTV Rap or even some of PE`s European TV appearances at the time could also have been added just to remind ourselves how much of a live force the band were.

Let's also hope the liner notes are written by someone with a love of the band & what their music stands for (at the time of writing, it appears that The Roots drummer, Questlove, has penned the notes so its looking good!). Respected journalist Angus Batey has written many informative PE reviews over the years plus there were some cracking "Nation of Millions" features in HHC (issue #223) & Wax Poetics (issue #17) which really gave readers an insight into The Bomb Squad`s production techniques. A follow-up interview with iconic photographer Glen E. Friedman would also be appreciated especially on how the visual concept of the lp was put together.

Well, there's still time for Def Jam/Universal to make changes before the official release date & maybe actually take on board comments from fans who want to see a worthwhile re-release which pays respect to the original. With this in mind, a deluxe edition of "Fear of a Black Planet" (aka: "Fear of the Dark") can't be too far off...

5* for the original - 3* for the 2014 version

UPDATE Dec 2014 - The Fight the Power dvd has been edited with the SIWs intro cut & Cold Lampin` with Flavor
missing so don`t chuck away your old VHS copy just yet. The second disc clocks in at just under 46 minutes. The sleeve notes are well written but I would have also have preferred an extra chapter by Ice-t, KRS-1, Paris, DMC or Dave Pearce. The inside booklet has some rare pics of the band, but what gets my goat is that some of the pics (Chuck`s L.A Raiders jacket) are unbelievably blurred out! The original is still a stone-cold classic - this re-issue has left me a little underwhelmed......
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on 1 March 2000
There is a case to be made that this album is the greatest ever recorded. Period. I listen to it now and it still sounds awesome. Every song makes a valid statement on American society and the problems which exist. Contemporary, powerful, brilliant. Buy it now.
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on 9 January 2002
In todays world of multiplatinum, woman clad,bling blinging hiphop there is no album that can match the raw power, agression, storytelling, in yer face attitude that nation of millions can offer. Chuck D and Flavour flav honour Terminator X's flawless production with the verbal onslaught that it deserves. "rebel without a pause" can take a claim to the greatest hiphop track ever written, while being supported by classics like "dont beleive the hype" and "night of the living baseheads". They even sample a gut churning riff from slayers "Angel of Death" for "she watch channel zero. All in all a true masterpiece.
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on 22 February 2001
What can I say? If only hip-hop wasn't ransacked by gansta (similar thing that happened to grunge after Nevermind) then it would still be an essential music form. This album brims with more politics than 10 Houses of Lords and more funk than Aerosmith on a pub crawl. Countdown To Armageddon announces "This time the revolution will not be televised!" and you believe Chuck too! This track also gives birth to the Manic Street Preachers classic Repeat. The definitive hip-hop track comes next - Bring The Noise. Never has a song overflowed with so much content and brilliance, it is a screamed assault to everything that modern culture stands for and leaves you astounded. Ditto Don't Believe The Hype. So much manifesto and exchanges from Chuck to Flav, it fills me up with revolution. Falva Flav Cold Lampin' is hilarious (don't you just love this dude?), a light hearted interlude from the rhetoric and much appreciated. Not so for Terminator X To The Edge Of Panic: "Right the power is bold, the rhymes are politically cold/And who gives a **** about a Goddamn Grammy?". Fantastic. Mind Terrorist is just an interlude but we get back on the track again with Louder Than A Bomb, a seething attack on the FBI. Caught, Can I Get A Witness?! is another absolutely suberb beast of a funkster that has you singing along "Your singers are spineless/As you sing your senseless songs to the mindless/Your general subject love is minimal/It's sex for a profit". What other bands sing that, please? Another interlude in the form of Show Em Whatcha Got and then She Watch Channel Zero, which actually combines heavy metal riffs in with the verse to great effect - the ultimate moshing track! Night Of The Living Bassheads starts with a Martin Luther King or Malcom X (sorry Chuck, I can't quite remember(blush)) but other than that it's not as ground breaking as the others. After that comes the meanest, darkest track on any album I know, Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos. It is so biting and true, I just can't praise it enough. Unfortunately there's another interlude after that but it's back to form again with Rebel Without A Pause and Prophets Of Rage. Finally, the sprawling, awe-enspiring Party For Your Right To Fight. The last track to send a shiver down my spine with a mixture of white-hot lyrics and bastardized slap funk. The only hip-hop album worth buying.
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on 9 December 2014
satsumauk's review was very comprehensive so the only observations I wish to add are concerning the sound quality of this new remaster.

This is the best *sounding* CD version yet. Certainly superior to the original disc and *far* superior to the 2000 master which just felt louder and slightly harsher but still lacked any proper low end weight.

The low end had been given some much needed weight and everything now sounds quite balanced. It's not an astonishing difference by any means but a worthwhile and welcome one. I tested all the CD's on an audiophile system vs an original vinyl pressing. Unsurprisingly the vinyl is the clear winner with more natural vocals but the new remaster was the closest to the vinyl in terms of sound quality over the previous CD issues.

Packaging for the set is excellent and the extra material and DVD are nice bonuses.

It's the best CD version we're ever likely to see....
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on 2 January 2013
25 year or so on, has anybody managed to encompass so succinctly, music into struggle expression? KRS1 perhaps, Nas more recently and a few less thrusted groups/artists. The originality of this album still holds true to this very 2013 day. It came from nowhere and still remains out there - untouchable fugitive. Listening back it still has the same bass heart as it did those many head whopping years ago. Test of time 10/10, lyrical content 10/10, tracks 10/10. This is one of those albums that will never again be repeated. Of course Dre's 2001, NWA' Straight Outta Compton and Tha Dogg Pound were ground breaking albums but none so with such cutting razor edge and uppercut to nosebridge POWeffect as this album. Anyone who frequented Westwoods set at Scrubbs Park (the then younger Rodigan of hip hop wannabee)back in the mid 80's will never ever forget the intro of Rebel Without a Pause, anticipating that..."I dont know what this world is coming to..." duhn, duhn (terminator transformer scratch) fist clenched like a fisherman casting rod.. craniuum back touching spine.."Yes, the rhythm, the rebel..." WHOP IT OUT!...Listening back just makes your neck ache.....with pleasure!
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on 20 April 2000
The original political rap album. Released way back in 1988, it turned rap on it's head. Between them, Public Enemy and N.W.A tore up the east and west coasts of America respectively, with their devastating back beats and "funky-ass basslines" they brought rap into the mainstream for ever. Where Run DMC had started, Public Enemy and N.W.A carried on the tradition in fine form, evolving into world beating (and baiting) rap acts, it's Public Enemy though that I am talking about. Their debut album, 'Yo! Bumrush the Show' was a promising start and 'It Takes a Nation...' took things a step further, an absolutely astounding album that will blow anyone away. Starting with their live intro of an air raid siren, it is very apt, as this album hits you like a B-52 with nuclear capabilities. 'Bring the Noise' and 'Don't Believe the Hype' are true old skool hip-hop, funky back beats and hard-ass rapping from Chuck D make them instant classics and Flavor Flav as the court jester in PE's kingdom hits the spot every time. The album just keeps going at a devastating pace, classics like 'Louder Than a Bomb', 'She Watch Channel Zero', 'Night of the Living Baseheads', Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos' and the frantic 'Prophets of Rage' are enough to make a grown man cry. On top of being fantastic songs they hold a message which all should pay heed to, their anti-racist stance is strong enough to have white people joining the Black Panthers. Last track 'Party For Your Right to Fight' deserves a special mention, both Flavor and Chuck rap together to great effect. Quite simply, loosen your purse strings and buy this album.
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on 1 April 2001
The world is pronouncing Rage Against The Machine to be one-of-a-kind geniuses, but without Public Enemy they'd have no career or inspiration. It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back takes the political records of the last fifteen years and renders them completely insignificant.
It doesn't even take hindsight to realize that this record was genius. Chuck D is perhaps the most skilled individual in the rap game. And his skill goes beyond his rhyming skills; his voice is power personified. It digs deep into your soul until you're ready to burst. Then there is Flavor Flav, the clowned prince of rap. His silly rhymes add a lighthearted spirit to the heavy depths that Public Enemy takes you to. The undercurrent is heavy, but a lot is owed to the master of the turntables, Terminator X, who was far ahead of his time. The beats are timeless and the cuts will leave you in awe.
The album boasts front to back classic tracks. Not one track goes by where you don't miss a line that is so significant that every band in the world is sampling it today, so significant that Public Enemy would sample themselves within the same record. The first bomb is dropped on "Bring The Noise". Chuck D will turn you out. His voice booms while Flavor Flav agitates him throughout. "Don't Believe The Hype" is an anthem, and though not as groundbreaking as their biggest hit, "Fight The Power", it is still damn meaningful. "Flavor Flav Cold Lampin'" is silly as hell but a complete trip. Flavor has the flavor and it tastes like fun.
Then you take a break for a song or two. "Louder Than A Bomb" starts off calm and tranquil, but Chuck kills that. He is fiery as hell and even madder. And you know Public Enemy doesn't dance around topics; just check out "Caught, Can I Get A Witness". Chuck announces, "Caught, now in court 'cause I stole a beat/ this is a sampling sport," and goes on to bust more heads with, "you singers are spineless/ as you sing your senseless songs to the mindless/ your general subject love is minimal/ it's sex for profit."
"Night Of The Living Baseheads" is the most memorable track from this album, thanks to a crazy video. How could anyone forget the opening: "Here it is/ BAM/ and you say Goddamn/ this is a dope jam"? But the song is deep, not an egotistical journey. They were one of the first groups to kick the world in the ass about the real drug epidemic in the inner cities. As powerful as "Night Of The Living Baseheads" is, it's "Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos" that finds Chuck D pouncing, more pissed off than ever. I can listen to this track over and over again. The plot is a prison escape, and although it's fictional, Chuck still finds a way to take shots at everyone from the federal government to racism.
The album never relents as it gives you a finale of three dynamite militant tracks: "Rebel Without A Pause", "Prophets Of Rage", and "Party For Your Right To Fight". "Party..." is a piece of sampling genius. The rhyming is bone chilling as Chuck D kicks in your right eardrum and Flavor Flav bangs on the left.
Still think Rage Against The Machine is the top of the political mountain? You only need a few lines from "Party..." to realize how wrong you are. Could Rage ever take on such an opponent as Public Enemy does on several occasions in the same song? "This party started in '66/ with a pro-black radical mix/ then at the hour of twelve/ some force cut the power/ and emerged from hell/ it was your so called government/ that made this occur/ like the grafted devils they were," and, "J. Edgar Hoover and he coulda' proved to 'ya/ He had King and X set up/ also the party with Newton, Cleaver and Seale." The album title speaks the truth; It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back!
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on 20 September 2001
By turns aggressive and humourous, this is one of the most versatile albums I've heard from any genre. For this reason, it is also one of the easiest to get into even if you don't like hip-hop as a genre. Cocky and confident and articulate as hell, the most striking thing is it is most definitely set and rooted in the real world. It isn't crappy fantasies about 'ho's 'n' guns' like too many hip-hop tracks... This is about culture, about politics, and of course about race. It wins hands down for me through sheer force of intelligence, and I'm quite happy just to read the lyric booklet sometimes - that's how good they are! Trust me, the real best album of the 80s.
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on 10 October 2016
I really had to buy this great hip hop old skool album as it's packed with full of good tunes that come with a additional dvd that is also good to have.

And I would highly recommend this to anyone that is a hip hop fanatic like me as the album its self is quality for the price payed is definitely wearth of buying..
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