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Rocket From The Tombs Rocket Redux

By Frank Meyer, Contributing Editor
Saturday, February 7, 2004 @ 10:00 PM


(Smog Veil)

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On Rocket Redux, legendary Cleveland proto-punks Rocket From The Tombs return from the undead to unleash upon the masses their patented brand of revolutionary art-punk. Revolutionary, you say? Damn straight, kid. RFTT is the band that spawned both the Dead Boys and Pere Ubu, two of New York's baddest Bowery bands (by way of Ohio) from the glory days of the late '70s CBGBs punk rock scene. The current version of RFTT also happens to feature Television guitarist Richard Lloyd filling in for deceased original band leader Peter Laughner, so yes, the revolution runs thick in the veins of this particular outfit.

Rocket From The Tombs recently reunited to tour in support of the critically praised rarities collection The Day The Earth Met The..., which collected the band's previously unreleased catalogue (actually, I guess they are all rarities when ya never made an album, eh?) With songs that became classics by the Dead Boys and Pere Ubu in tow, the band hit the road to show the kids how real punk rockers do it, with uber-Ubu frontman David Thomas assuming lead vocal duties and Dead Boys dead boy Cheetah Chrome crawling out of the gutter to sling axe in the thrilling manner only he can. With a new drummer on the skins, this is a punk super group if ever there was one.

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Rocket Redux finds the band kicking out the jams in the studio, running through their live set with minimal overdubs and studio fucker-aroundery. The results are splendid and appropriately grimy. Classics like "30 Seconds Over Tokyo," "Sonic Reducer," "What Love Is," "Down In Flames" and "Final Solution" are given the RFTT workout, which means they have the original lyrics and different arrangements. Purists might scoff, but since these really are the original versions played by the guys that wrote 'em, it ain't getting' any more pure than this.

Cheetah and Lloyd in particular really shine through the proceedings, trading fiery leads and unleashing molten riffs a plenty. It's nice to hear Cheetah's angry attack again. The guy is one of the genre's best tunesmith's and lead axemen. Quite underrated. And while some might argue about Thomas' wail (is it the reckless abandon of a genius or the out of tune yelp of a man in need of vocal lessons? You decide.), there is no getting around the man's lyrical prowess and ability to sell a song. He means it, maaaan, and that's what counts.

The production is raw, but solid. It's a live in the studio affair so there is little polish, yet the band is tight as a gnat's ass, so the sloppiness is kept to a minimum and every instrument rings through loud and clear. Fans who want to hear what the OGs sounded like would be wise to pick this up. NY rawk fans who want to hear the classics in a different form will dig this. Fans of Johnny Thunders, the Dolls, the Damned, the Ramones, Iggy, Stiv and, of course, Mr. Chrome NEED this. Everyone else can go kiss a tailpipe.

…and yes, Rocket From the Crypt stole their name from these guys.

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