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Rocket From The Tombs | Rocket Redux | review | rock | Lollipop

Rocket From The Tombs

Rocket Redux (Smog Veil)
by Craig Regala

After the art-brut ugh! of the Stooges and proto-anarchy metal of the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams," there was, well, not a whole lotta anything to really burn yer ass in mid-America. Even those two bands turned back from the edge, cuz hey, unless you can fly... down you go. So it belongs to those influenced by such behavior to bravely/dumbly go roaring to their own edge, hell-bent and fueled with desire+art+duh+addlepated energy. There was drugged up sleaze in the NY Dolls, there was beer-fueled fun with the Dictators, there was the edgy malevolence of Blue Öyster Cult, but those New York bands were a long way away from Cleveland in both miles (try hitchhiking it with a guitar) and mindset. Instead of running away to some mythical Valhalla, what Rocket From The Tombs did was burrow into the real MidWestern rustbelt. Their town, their reality, their broken, drifting hulk of an economy, their lack of glamour with a burning river becoming their frontier: Their edge.

But who cares unless the music's good? Well, it is. The band replaced the dead guy (Peter Laughner) with Richard Loyd, who's best known for his guitaring in Television, a band whose romantic take on '60s Stones/Dylan/Elevators/acid garage was pretty great there for a couple years. Also, Laughner was slated (at least in his mind) to replace Tom Verlaine in TV, had that volatile combo blown up in time. Don't believe me? Check the bootlegs, dude: Laughner doing TV's "Prove It" medlied into his own "Dear Richard" (maybe my fave song ever) in '76 with his band Friction. Seal that TV/RFTT's thing with that, OK?

So, David Thomas of Pere Ubu and Cheetah Chrome of The Dead Boys felt the band they split from (RFTT) had "unfinished business," even though most of the songs ended up in one or the other's repertoires. 26 years after the initial band split, they toured. The next year, this basically live - in-the-studio disc appears. David Thomas has a high, slightly off-kilter voice for such hard rock-proto punk. Works tho... That's the punk part: Desire and work over technique and previous expectations. Trust me, it works. Here lay a slice of the good stuff that coulda bent some ears had they been around long enough to record and distribute product. Like Black Flag and The Misfits, it's too bad they couldn't hit with their initial LPs as they germinated. So now you know where "Ain't It Fun" (capably covered by Guns N' Roses on The Spaghetti Incident?) came from.
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