Rocket From The Tombs - Rocket Redux (Cover Artwork)

Rocket From The Tombs

Rocket Redux (2004)

Smog Veil

Perhaps Cleveland's Rocket from the Tombs are best known for birthing two of punk's most original, creative bands: Pere Ubu and The Dead Boys. However, as Rocket Redux, RFTT's (only!) studio album of present-day recordings of old material written back in the ‘70s shows, this proto-punk five-piece that formed in 1974, was (and based on this record, still is) quite a force with which to be reckoned, as they play raw, sweat-soaked, highly energetic, oft-crazed, and slightly sleazy rock ‘n' roll with immeasurable bite – the type of rock ‘n' roll bands 30 years later are copying left and right. This record is somewhat of a result of RFTT getting back together to play some shows in 2003, and as guitarist Peter Laughner died in the late-‘70s, the line-up here is guitarists Cheetah Chrome and Television's Richard Lloyd, vocalist David Thomas, Pere Ubu drummer Steve Mehlman, and original bassist Craig Bell. (*RFTT do have another album, 2002's ‘The Day the Earth Met Rocket from the Tombs' on Smog Veil, but that is a collection of live performances and original demos.)

Out of the RFTT line-up – David Thomas (a.k.a. Crocus Behemoth) and Peter Laughner formed Pere Ubu and guitarist Cheetah Chrome and drummer Johnny Blitz started up The Dead Boys. All you Dead Boys fans will recognize songs like "What Love Is", "Down in Flames", and the incomparable "Sonic Reducer" – well, this last one is titled "Sonic Reducer RFTT" and is as feverish a recording you'll ever find – as these RFTT originals later appeared on the Dead Boys' monumental debut LP ‘Young, Loud and Snotty', and those familiar with Pere Ubu will notice "30 Seconds Over Tokyo", "Final Solution", and the final track "Life Stinks".

While many songs featured are upbeat, fun rockers, there are some heart-wrenchers, too, in the form of the extremely melancholy, down-on-my-luck "Ain't It Fun", with its main sentiment of "Ain't it fun when you know you're gonna die young." With it's emotive lead guitar and slower tempo (though it does build during the choruses), this one might just have you crying in your beer, as well as the light and understated "Amphetamine" and the affecting, mellow jam of "So Cold", a song that follows the opener "Frustration", a crazy, raucous ditty that showcases some delirious, disoriented yells of one word, and one word only - "frustration" - from frontman David Thomas. This guy's vocals are extremely distinctive, quirky, and, for lack of a better word, insane, and will most likely be (or, in the past, have been) deemed unpalatable by some.

One of the major highlights of the album is the epic-like "30 Seconds Over Tokyo", which is slow but delightfully dark and mysterious – slightly sinister, if you will, with it's driving drums, light guitars, and wacky vocals that turns chaotic around the two-minute 45-second mark before picking up a shitload more speed and showcasing some virtuoso guitar turns, only to journey into chaotic noise once again, followed by a return to the initial slow, plodding tempo, and a final descent into furious speed and madness. The diversity of this track alone makes it a definite standout. All in all, the 12 tracks comprising ‘Rocket Redux' are timeless and a testament to RFTT's influence on punk and rock ‘n' roll in general.