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Rocket From The Tombs - Rocket Redux

  by Jon Rogers

published: 1 / 3 / 2004



Rocket From The Tombs - Rocket Redux
Label: Smog Veil / Morphius
Format: CD

intro

Spectacular new release rom the highly-influential Rocket from the Tombs, who thirty years on after initially splitting have reformed to record and finally release their debut studio album, 'Rocket Redux'


The mythology surrounding Cleveland's art-punk Rocket from the Tombs (RFTT) has probably got out of hand over the years since their short lifespan between 1974 and 1975, but these re-recorded songs show that the reverence bestowed on David Thomas and company isn't an empty boast. Like one of their influences the Velvet Underground, during their lifetime RFTT was largely ignored and it was only posthumously that their reputation grew, largely thanks to poor quality bootlegs and re-recorded versions of their songs by spin-off bands Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys. The band, which had the lifespan similar to that of a butterfly, barely had time to record a few rough demos and play a handful of live sets - the latter usually contained a few Stooges and MC5 covers. It was all over far too quickly, with the band fracturing off into splinter groups due to deep-seated internal tensions. Bizarrely, those recordings weren't officially released until 2002's 'The Day the Earth Met the...' Rocket from the Tombs' original line-up was taking shape at the same time that New York's CBGB's scene was also planting roots and the band came to (limited) prominence alongside groups like the Mirrors and The Electric Eels as part of what was loosely termed the "Cleveland scene". The band, augmented by Peter Laughner joining, drew on their basic influences of the Velvet Underground, MC5, Hawkwind and the Stooges as well as the more esoteric Captain Beefheart and Can to bash out gritty songs about alienation, misanthropy and drugs. One early song, written around December 1974, was '30 Seconds Over Tokyo' (later to appear as Pere Ubu's first single). It was a cathartic tale based on Ted W Lawson's book of the same name about a "suicide ride" over Tokyo which ended in a ball of flames as the plane crashes. The song's nagging riff and eerie vocals powered along into inevitable sonic destruction. 'Final Solution,' despite the accusations of flirting with fascism, mined the theme of youthful alienation in a similar vein to songs like 'Frustration,' 'Life Stinks,' 'Ain't It Fun' and 'Never Gonna Kill Myself Again' (all of which appear). It also mixed that combination of adventurous riffs, strangulated guitars and rudimentary vocals that was hypnotic. If 2002's collection of archival material from the original demos 'The Day the Earth Met the Rocket from the Tombs' was like breaking in to some long-lost Egyptian tomb that was preserved with its treasures still in tact then "Rocket Redux' is like viewing those artifacts in daylight once they've been dusted down and restored to their former glories. After the success of that album the band reformed, added Television's Richard Lloyd to replicate the original twin-guitar line-up, and went into Lloyd's EGB studios in New York to re-record such classic songs like 'Ain't It Fun,' '30 Seconds Over Tokyo' and 'Final Solution'. Although the songs lack the presence of Peter Laughner, who died at 24, they do benefit from being cleaned up, the chrome has been polished until it shines and it's been lovingly restored. Importantly too, the band has still managed to retain the freshness and passion that originally motivated the band. Hopefully now RFTT's will be promoted in the great book of rock history from a large footnote to a proper entry. As Bob Dylan said of Johnny Cash, some people drive the train and some lay the tracks. The tracks RFTT laid remain firm to this day.



Track Listing:-
1 Frustration
2 So Cold
3 What Love Is
4 Ain't It Fun
5 Muckraker
6 30 Seconds Over Tokyo
7 Sonic Reducer RFTT
8 Never Gonna Kill Myself Again
9 Amphetamine
10 Down In Flames
11 Final Solution RFTT
12 Life Stinks


Band Links:-
https://www.facebook.com/rocketfromthetombs
http://www.ubuprojex.com/rftt.html
http://rocketfromthetombsmusic.bandcamp.com/



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