Thankfully, on his third solo album World Wide Rebel Songs, The Nightwatchman (Morello’s acoustic Johnny-Cash-meets-Che-Guevara alter ego) embraces his amplified roots and tracks with his touring band, the Freedom Fighter Orchestra.

Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman
World Wide Rebel Songs
New West Records


Hear a track:


Tom Morello playing the acoustic guitar is like Michael Jordan leaving basketball to play minor league baseball. It’s not that Morello is destined to be on the Mount Rushmore of guitarists, but as an electric guitarist he’s forged an undeniable style and influenced a generation of guitarists through his Whammy-slamming work with Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. Thankfully, on his third solo album World Wide Rebel Songs, The Nightwatchman (Morello’s acoustic Johnny-Cash-meets-Che-Guevara alter ego) embraces his amplified roots and tracks with his touring band, the Freedom Fighter Orchestra. This ensemble adds much-needed firepower to Morello’s pro-union, freedom-for-all anthems.

From the opening licks of “It Begins Tonight”—a fiery Audioslave “Cochise”- style riff on steroids—you instantly know this isn’t the same workingman troubadour. The song’s solo has the Grammy-winning guitarist going back to his wah-tastic ways creating a solo fit for Evil Empire-era RATM. The album’s first single, “Save the Hammer for the Man,” features soulful keyboard laced with steadfast strumming by Morello and guest guitarist Ben Harper. The song climaxes with dueling solos: Harper on lap steel and Morello working his pedalboard pyrotechnics. “Stray Bullets” depicts embittered American soldiers in Iraq accompanied by Morello’s version of Duane Eddy twang. Fist-pumping songs like “Black Spartacus Heart Attack Machine” and “World Wide Rebel Songs” offer a familiar Nightwatchman-esque folk-rock vibe with sing-along choruses and vigorous strumming on his “Whatever It Takes” Ibanez Galvador nylon-string. Slowpaced tracks like the sparse, remorseful “God Save Us All” and the downtrodden warning of “The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse” counterweigh the album’s bombastic rockers.

The instrumentation and compositions on World Wide Rebel Songs show off Morello’s abilities as an electric wizard and a soulful singer-songwriter, and the music’s dynamic range makes this the most muscular, well-rounded Nightwatchman album yet.
Pop Evil’s Nick Fuelling on Why James Hetfield Is “the Man”

Meanwhile, coguitarist Dave Grahs—the band’s resident punk rocker—reveals a surprisingly roots-y side.

See a sampling of picks used by famous guitarists over the years.

Marty Stuart

Submit your own artist pick collections to rebecca@premierguitar.com for inclusion in a future gallery.

Luthier Dave Helmer shows you how to cure buzzy strings, bad intonation, gnarly frets, high action, and other common troubles with off-the-shelf axes.

Guitars are the best. We love them. It’s fun to fall in love with a guitar at a store, buy it, and proudly bring it home. But we’ve all been there … where after a month that new guitar is just not playing as good as it was before. As guitar players, we know what feels good and what feels bad when it comes to playability. Maybe you have setup preferences that you like on all your guitars, or maybe you want to experiment with changes to your setup?

Read MoreShow less
x