Rocket From The Tombs - Rocket Redux
Most groups spend their entire careers trying to assemble a mass of convincing myths to make them seem way more interesting than they actually were. Rocket From The Tombs had no truck with self-mythology - they were always going to be legendary. When the group fell apart sometime in 1975 they splintered into not one, but two essential groups: David Thomas & Peter Laughner formed Pere Ubu, whilst Cheetah Chrome, Johnny Blitz & Stiv Bators (who’d replaced the disillusioned Thomas on vocals a matter of weeks before Rocket From The Tombs split) put together The Dead Boys. The rest, as they say, is history.
Rocket From The Tombs never got round to recording an official LP during their first incarnation & when Glitterhouse Records released The Day The Earth Met The Rocket From The Tombs (GRCD549) in 2002, many were hearing the group for the first time.
The collection featured a full set of RFTT tunes recorded at various locations around Cleveland in 1975: RFTT’s rehearsal loft, The Piccadilly Inn & The Agora. The set included covers of The Stooges’ Raw Power & Search & Destroy, The VU’s Foggy Notion & The Stones’ Satisfaction - as well as RFTT originals, So Cold, Ain’t It Fun, Transfusion, What Love Is, Life Stinks, Muckraker, 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, Sonic Reducer, Never Going To Kill Myself Again, Final Solution, Amphetamine, Read It & Weep, Seventeen, Frustration & Down In Flames.
The sleeve notes stated:
This album is more than just an artefact of a specific time & place. It offers a tantalising glimpse at one of the greatest albums never recorded.
Imagine, then, having the opportunity to hear that illusive LP nearly 30 years after it should have been recorded.
Imagine no more - original RFTT members David Thomas, Cheetah Chrome & Craig Bell have joined forces with Richard Lloyd (Television) & Steve Mehlman (Pere Ubu) to bring us Rocket Redux (GRCD 593) - again on Glitterhouse Records. Rocket Redux is a 12-track affair that features re-recordings of RFTT originals laid down at EGB Studios, NYC, in 2003 with Richard Lloyd at the controls.
Frustration, So Cold, What Love Is, Ain’t It Fun, Muckraker, 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, Sonic Reducer RFTT, Never Gonna Kill Myself Again, Amphetamine, Down In Flames, Final Solution RFTT & Life Stinks.
The sound Rocket From The Tombs achieve on Rocket Redux is truly enormous. Chrome & Lloyd are simply dazzling as they trade sonic exchanges like they’d been playing together all their lives. Thomas commands the mix - the ghost of Crocus Behemoth forces it’s way out of his mouth to tear down the years with contempt. Bell & Mehlhem hold down the bottom end like a tent in a hurricane. Rocket From The Tombs are busting out - & there’s no stopping them this time.
The LP’s most affecting moment occurs during Thomas’ heartfelt take on Laughner’s Ain’t It Fun - the gtrs cascade like molten lava running down a volcano - & you can’t help feeling a lump in the throat as Thomas sings, ain’t it fun when you know you’re gonna die young, it’s such fun.
These days, reformed old skool groups are ten a penny, rarely worthy of the adoration originally heaped upon them. To many, it’s merely a career move - a chance to make the money they never made the 1st time round. A chance to cash in & fleece their fan-base one more time - before buying that remote Salmon farm & retiring from view.
Rocket From The Tombs are resolutely not one of those type of groups & Rocket Redux deserves its place on your shelf next to The Day The Earth Met Rocket From The Tombs, The Shape Of Things, Terminal Tower & Modern Dance.
January is traditionally a shit month for new releases - but with Rocket Redux & Metal Urbain’s Chef Oeuvre already in the bag - 2004 could turn out to be a good year for the roses after all.
Jean Encoule - tMx 13 - 01/04