Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Rocket From the Tombs - Life Stinks

I don't know if this has been reissued yet but if not, it should be! This was a bootleg vinyl LP of a radio appearance by the band, released in 1990. I was lucky enough to get a copy with a bonus 7" included.

Opening with an instrumental bit of "Raw Power" (these cats were definitely Detroit high energy freaks, as well as lovers of early Velvets), this blends into their original "So Cold", which would later become "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" for Pere Ubu. Dave Thomas (Crocus Behemoth) is particularly vicious here, as the band pounds the song into submission. As best as I can tell, this is the line-up with Peter Laughner and Gene O'Connor (Cheetah Chrome) on guitars, Chris Willis Bell on bass and Johnny Madansky (Johnny Blitz) on drums. Maniacally frantic rendering of "I'm Never Gonna Kill Myself Again" (later "Caught With the Meat In Your Mouth") is followed by "What Love Is", with a few minor variations, but not much different than the Dead Boys' later version. The fantastic title track has even more added racket here, which makes it even more potent.

A short intermission by Laughner imploring locals to take up instruments and start new, local music before the group returns with "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" and this is a bit different than "So Cold" - have I been mixing up songs or are these two just that similar? Still, some subtle difference from Ubu's take on it, not the least being the smash'n'bash rave-up ending tagged on. The always superb "Final Solution" is as arresting, powerful and dramatic as ever - one of my all-time fave numbers - and is followed by the pulsating "Muckraker". After an entreaty to the audience to "get up and dance", they blast into a high-energy number, "Frustration" that has some truly interesting and melodic guitar lines. A short bit from "Pinball Wizard" opens up "Seventeen", practically a pop tune, with bits and pieces stolen from various sources, including other Who numbers and the Raspberries' "Go All the Way'! The incendiary (hah!) "Down in Flames" was retained pretty much intact by the Dead Boys (great two guitar mayhem here!) and they close the set with a tribute to their heroes, "Search and Destroy" with Crocus truly teetering, shrieking, over the edge - pretty phenomenal.

The "bonus" 45 has "Ain't It Fun", with some biting leads and sounding much less tongue-in-cheek than the Dead Boys recorded take, and I don't remember the line "when you tell her she's just a cunt" in theirs! "Transfusion" is a simple lick that gives Crocus and the guitars a chance to show off, in their own unique ways. Love the trade-offs between Laughner and O'Connor with lots of use of dynamics from everyone. Ultra cool!

Of course, fans of the Dead Boys and Pere Ubu should have this, but also anyone who is interested in what the desolate mid-west managed to produce in the early 70's needs to hear this! Terrific rock'n'roll!