Steal This Album!
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|Steal This Album!|
|Studio album by System of a Down|
|Released||November 26, 2002|
|Genre||Alternative metal, nu metal|
|Label||American Recordings/Columbia/SME Records|
|Producer||Rick Rubin, Daron Malakian|
|System of a Down chronology|
|Singles from Steal This Album!|
Steal This Album! is the third studio album by Armenian American rock band System of a Down, released on November 26, 2002, on American Recordings. The album was produced by Rick Rubin and Daron Malakian, and reached #15 in the Billboard Top 200.
In early 2002, medium-quality MP3s of the album were released on the internet under the name Toxicity II, a clear reference to the band's previous, multi-platinum record, Toxicity. The band issued a statement expressing disappointment in the fact that fans were hearing material that was unfinished, and worked to release a completed, better quality version of the album, which became what is now known as Steal This Album!. Many of the tracks on Toxicity II are early versions or rough mixes of the songs, featuring different arrangements, lyrics, and vocal melodies than their completed counterparts. Notably, there is a lack of vocals by Daron Malakian. Two songs on Toxicity II, "Virginity" (also known as "Cherry" or "Virgin Tea") and "Outer Space" (also known as "Fortress"), are absent from the final version of the album. Additionally, four songs not found on Toxicity II, "Fuck the System," "Ego Brain," "Roulette," and "Innervision" appeared on the final version of Steal This Album!, making the final version considerably different from the Toxicity II version.
Though often reported in the media as being a collection of B-sides and outtakes, the band insisted 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 did not fit the overall continuity of the album". In May 2009, drummer John Dolmayan revealed that the album is his favorite System of a Down release. Similarly, Tankian also called the album his favorite System of a Down album in a 2012 AMA on reddit.
The album title is a possible reference to Abbie Hoffman's book Steal This Book, which is regarded 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. However, the album track titled Fuck the System is a clear reference to an earlier Hoffman essay. This album's title can also be a reference to the unauthorized distribution of the leaked songs from Toxicity II.
The packaging for this album is quite unusual. The original album came in a normal CD jewel case with only a disc, and no booklet (an insert was included in later releases of the album and most European copies, since many stores sell them unsealed and so the impression of it being removed by accident could be avoided). On the CD and the back of the case, the text is styled as if written by a black permanent marker, in faux-bootleg appearance. This is an obvious response by the band to those who leaked the original Toxicity II CD.
Most songs on the album have received little appearance in concert. However, songs "Mr. Jack" and "I-E-A-I-A-I-O" were played extensively to live audiences.
Presumably shortly after being written in 2000, the song "Chic 'N' Stu" was played live before the release of Toxicity. After the end of the band's hiatus in 2011, the only songs to have been played from the album are "I-E-A-I-A-I-O", "Mr. Jack", "Innervision", and "Roulette". In the 2013 tour they played also "A.D.D.". In 2015 on the Wake Up the Souls Tour, the songs "Bubbles" and "Chic 'N' Stu" were played in concert. 
Commenting on the track "I-E-A-I-A-I-O", drummer John Dolmayan said it was inspired by an encounter he had with Knight Rider's actor David Hasselhoff in a liquor store in Los Angeles when he was around 12:
|“||He was getting a drink, not an alcoholic beverage, a soda or something. He was walking out and I couldn't believe it! Here was Knight Rider in front of me! And I said, 'Knight Rider!' I must have been 12. He looked at me and he goes, 'Hey kid,' and he kind of pointed the finger [at me] cowboy style. I told Serj the story, so the lyrics, 'Meeting John at Dale's Jr. / Winked an eye and point a finger.' 'Dale's Jr.' was the liquor store. There's a little insight.||”|
- E! - "As leftovers go, this Album is refreshingly tasty. Grade: B+"
- 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."
In the United Kingdom, Australia and United States releases of Steal This Album!, for a limited time four alternative versions of the disc artwork were available. Each were 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. If looked at close enough, it becomes apparent that the "V shapes" are actually legs, meaning a woman (in the red and white) is laying on her back with her legs in the air, while a man (in blue) is standing over her, symbolizing the fact of how the American society is so connected with sexual acts. These versions are considered very rare, the last one, drawn by Daron Malakian, being the rarest. Additionally, the vinyl edition of the album was released as a double picture disc with each design featuring as a side of the album.
In Europe and the UK the standard version includes a one sided front insert, the reason for this being that most CDs in the UK are not sold sealed so it might appear that the cover had been stolen had it been shipped without it. It is all white with the album title in black, similar to the original CD cover. The insert contains minimal information and contains a link to the official website for more track information.
|1.||"Chic 'N' Stu"||Tankian||Malakian||2:23|
|3.||"Bubbles" (featuring Arto Tunçboyacıyan)||Tankian||Malakian||1:56|
|6.||"A.D.D." (American Dream Denial)||Tankian||Malakian||3:17|
|7.||"Mr. Jack"||Tankian, Malakian||Malakian||4:09|
|8.||"I-E-A-I-A-I-O"||Tankian||Tankian, Malakian, Odadjian, Dolmayan||3:08|
|11.||"Highway Song"||Tankian, Malakian||Malakian||3:13|
|12.||"Fuck the System"||Tankian||Malakian, Tankian||2:12|
|13.||"Ego Brain"||Tankian, Malakian||Malakian, Tankian||3:21|
- System of a Down
- Serj Tankian — lead and backing vocals, keyboards, theremin
- Daron Malakian — guitars, backing and lead vocals, oud
- Shavo Odadjian — bass, backing vocals
- John Dolmayan — drums
- Produced by Rick Rubin and Daron Malakian
- Engineered by Greg Collins, Darren Mora, and Dave Shiffman
- Mixed by Andy Wallace
- Worldwide Representation: Velvet Hammer Music and Management Group
- Additional Vocals by Arto Tunçboyaciyan on "Bubbles"
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-09-15. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
- http://www.billboard.com/artist/281380/system-down/chart[dead link]
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-06. Retrieved 2014-09-15.
- Interview: John Dolmayan (System of a Down/Scars on Broadway) at the Wayback Machine (archived April 15, 2014)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbobmByd3X8[permanent dead link]
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-11-05. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-11-05. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
- Hartmann, Graham (14 July 2014). "System of a Down's John Dolmayan Reveals Lyrical Inspiration for 'I-E-A-I-A-I-O'". Loudwire. Townsquare Media. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
- "Steal This Album". Metacritic.
- "Steal This Album! - System of a Down". AllMusic.
- "Steal This Album Review". Entertainment Weekly. November 29, 2002.
- Kludge review
- System Of A Down : Steal this Album - NME
- System of a Down Steal This Album | Album Review | Slant Magazine
- System Of A Down - Steal This Album! - Amazon.com Music
- "System of a Down, 'Steal This Album!' (American Recordings/Columbia)". Spin.
- "System of a Down - Steal This Album! (staff review)". Sputnikmusic.
- Steal This Album! Review | System Of A Down | Compact Discs | Reviews @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com
- "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2003 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association.
- "Brazilian album certifications – System of a Down – System of a Down" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos.
- "System of a Down" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
- "American album certifications – System of a Down – Steal This Album!". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH