Rocket from the Crypt - All Systems Go III (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Rocket from the Crypt

All Systems Go III (2008)


Rocket from the Crypt offer a near-literal definition of "garage rock" with Volume III of their All Systems Go series. While the first two volumes compiled 7" singles and some new and previously unreleased material, III is made up of 20 songs recorded on an 8-track in the band's practice space. The material spans three years -- 1997-2000 -- but definitely retains a certain cohesiveness thanks to the rough recording, and its punked-up rock ‘n' roll flavor will sound familiar to any fan. Plus, most of them are songs fans have never heard.

This sort of setting does seem to muffle the energy a bit, but Rocket always wrote songs good enough to overcome what some might call a detracting quality. "Total Bummer" completely rocks, while "Little Shaver" slowly bumps with a rawness that reminds me of Paul Westerberg's Stereo, just, you know, accompanied by a horn section. John Reis' act in "Don't Wanna Be Touched" sounds like a pre-cursor to Craig Finn come Finn's Hold Steady days.

Following a few lazier moments, "Pictures of Lenny" charges forward in a jolting manner. For some reason, things don't feel entirely uncomfortable when Reis snarls, "Pictures of Lenny / I jack off to them / To know him is to love him." The instrumental "Tiger Mask" is an odyssey: `50s surf-rock transformed into a heavier, modern-day stomper. (There was a version with lyrics recorded and released on some 7".) If RFTC's glossy vibe bummed you out, the rawer take on "Dick on a Dog" should certainly be a hit. "Come on Everybody" borrows a little bit of "Blitzkrieg Bop" and comes out as a quick, tasty treat as a result.

These 20 songs, thankfully, span just 50 minutes. When the album reaches its later stages, it might either have started fading into the background or become a bit of a chore to listen to; therefore, this album spans another 10 minutes and its overall charm would degrade considerably. Granted, lyrics might have been nice as many of these songs are being unearthed for the first time. But as it stands, All Systems Go III provides an astute lo-fi profile of Rocket from the Crypt and quite a treat for faithful followers.