Steal This Album (The Coup album)

Steal This Album!

Steal This Album! is the third album by System of a Down. Produced by Rick Rubin and Daron Malakian, Steal This Album! was recorded in mid-2002 and released on November 26, 2002 by American Recordings. The album reached No. 15 in the Billboard Top 200.

Album information

This album was released shortly after a collection of medium-quality MP3s found their way onto the Internet under the unofficial name Toxicity II, a year after the release of the group's multi-platinum record, Toxicity. The band issued a statement expressing their disappointment that their fans were hearing unfinished material, and released the finished versions of the leaked material. Most, but not all tracks from the original leak (e.g. "Cherry") made it onto Steal This Album!, and three new tracks such as "Roulette" were also added. Many song titles, lyrics, and melodies were changed, making the new album significantly different from the unfinished product.

Though often reported in the media as being a collection of B-sides and outtakes, the band insists that the Steal This Album! material is of the same quality as the tracks which made it onto Toxicity. Vocalist Serj Tankian has said that the songs were left out of Toxicity "because they didn't fit the overall continuity of the album.

The album title is a reference to Abbie Hoffman's book Steal This Book, which is regarded by many as a classic example of counterculture literature. A similar title ("Steal This Movie!") was used for a movie about Hoffman's life. A year prior to this album however, The Suicide Machines had already released an album titled Steal This Record. The Coup had also released a Steal This Album in 1998. The title of track 12, "Fuck The System", is probably also based on the Abbie Hoffman book of the same name. It certainly could be argued that, like Hoffman, System of a Down have used some of their lyrics to discuss radical political opinions. The choice of album title could also be interpreted as being a reference to the Recording Industry Association of America's campaign against peer-to-peer MP3 file-sharing, which attracted significant mainstream media attention, both before and since the album's release. Given the aforementioned history of the album, such a view is given credence. It could also be interpreted as a message to those who leaked the unfinished, unmastered versions of the songs, on the Internet.

An alternate version of "Streamline" was used in The Scorpion King soundtrack, which was released in early 2002, and as a B-Side on some copies of the Aerials single.

The packaging for this album is unique. The album comes in a normal CD jewel case without a booklet, just the CD. On the CD and back of the case, it looks like it has been written on with a black marker pen, in faux-bootleg style to make it look like it has been pirated.

Alternative covers

In the United Kingdom and United States releases of Steal This Album!, for a limited time four alternative versions of the disc artwork were available. Each were supposedly designed by a member of the band. One featured an entirely blue background with text swirling into the center. One was a drawing of crude stylized flames, accompanied by text. The third was black and gray, depicting a skull with writing in the mouth. The fourth, and perhaps most controversial featured two 'V' shapes, crossing over in the center to create a diamond. One 'V' was entirely blue, and the other red and white striped. These versions are considered very rare.

In Europe a one sided front insert has also been seen. It is all white with the album title in black, similar to the CD one.

Reception

Professional reviews

  • CMJ (12/16/02, p.23) - "Both arty aggro and perverted political punk."
  • Entertainment Weekly (11/29/02, p.105) - "Steal This Album stands head-and-tattooed shoulders above its competition in the hard-rock genre."
  • Rolling Stone (12/12/02, p.93) - "An absurdist blast of political rage, silly theater and shattered math metal."
  • Spin (2/03, p.96) - 8 out of 10 - "The way these simple songs blur together works in the album's favor: Just when you think you've got a foothold, the ground disappears under your feet."

Track listing

Leaked version (Toxicity II)

The main difference between the leaked version, Toxicity II and Steal This Album! itself would primarily be the lack of vocals by Malakian. The demo versions include only Tankian on vocals, with a few exceptions. There are a few other differences, but this is the most obviously noticed.

# Steal This Album! Toxicity II
1. "Chic 'N' Stu" "Therapy"
2. "Innervision" "Inner Vision"
3. "Bubbles" "Power Struggle"
4. "Boom!" "Everytime"
5. "Nüguns" "Defy You"
6. "A.D.D (American Dream Denial)" "We Don't Give a"
7. "Mr. Jack" "Side of the Freeway"
8. "I-E-A-I-A-I-O" "Why?"
9. "36" "Your Own Pace"
10. "Pictures" "On My Mind"
11. "Highway Song" "Want Me to Try"
12. "Fuck the System" N/A
13. "Ego Brain" N/A
14. "Thetawaves" "Census"
15. "Roulette" N/A
16. "Streamline" "Streamline"
N/A "Cherry (Virgin Tea)"
N/A "Forever"

Personnel

Charting performance

Year Single Chart Position
2003 "Innervision" Mainstream Rock Tracks 14
Modern Rock Tracks 12

Alternate covers

See also

  • Strange loop, the technical name for the self-reference of this record

References

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