Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Day the Earth Met The Rocket From the Tombs

Wow! This is a motherfucker of an album! A collection of demos and live cuts, this is another incendiary selection of wild rock'n'roll from 70's Cleveland. Sure, the sound quality is a bit iffy, but that really gives it an edge, and r'n'r should always have a razor-sharp edge to it. Not unlike the boot Life Stinks, which was mostly (all?) taken from a radio show, the sound seems to be from multi-generation tapes, but still has enough clarity so that you can pick out everything and you can feel the raw-power-high-energy vibe pulsating through it all!

As with the afore-mentioned Life Stinks, this opens with an instrumental take on "Raw Power" that turns into their own "So Cold", a well-written piece of unrefined, barely restrained energy with simple but extremely effective guitar lines. A dementedly frenzied "What Love Is" follows (that later became a Dead Boys song) and right from the introduction, you can tell that this will be even more primitive than the DB's version! Of course, Crocus' voice is pretty damn different from Stiv's, and there are no harmonies but the guitars blend together and create some terrific new noise while the rhythm section blasts! Another future Dead Boys' tune, "Ain't It Fun" has excellent guitar work (not sure if this is Peter Laughner or Eugene O'Connor, but it scrapes at the speakers) and manic vocals. Man, "Transfusion" is a basic, three-chord number, but is crazily good - kind of an Alice Cooper vibe (it's very similar to something that they used to do live but never recorded), with twisted lyrics and amazing playing all around. This is probably my favorite piece from the album - maybe cuz I never heard it before or just cuz it's that damn good!

Bassist Craig Bell starts out the song (and adds some fine noise to) "Life Stinks" and it's even more anarchic and chaotic (in an incredible way) than the Pere Ubu version - absolutely terrific! Craig's "Muckraker" immediately follows and is a stompin' piece with more biting guitar. Speaking of guitar, the lines that interweave in "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" are truly clever and kinda mind-blowing, when you really listen to what they're doing. This is a true classic! Of course, the rave-up is bombastic and the lead guitar is so overdriven that it sounds like it's dumped in acid - and it just gets better! This has to be the best version of this song that I've heard - it's like a physical assault! Whew! And there's even a snippet of "Satisfaction" at the very end.

A very bizarre, trippy opening to "Sonic Reducer" belies its potency, and the call'n'answer chorus and solo parts make this a very different experience. A slightly out of tune "Never Gonna Kill Myself Again" would become "Caught With the Meat in Your Mouth" in Stiv's hands, but here it is a bit haunting, considering Laughner's fate. The intro to this version of "Final Solution" is varied a bit from the one we know so that it almost reminds me of "I Need Lunch" - wonder if that was an intentional later bit of thievery. There are a number of alterations from Pere Ubu's take, but is wonderfully cacophonous and - if my ears don't deceive me - there some sax in this one, as well.

Wearing their influences on their sleeves, they pull out a frantic "Foggy Notion" (Velvet Underground) and add some fine squawk'n'squeal to this. I've never heard "Amphetamine" before, but it is appropriately Velvet-influenced, despite the heavy drums, with bits sounding like "Heroin", "The Ocean" and more, but still coming up with something reasonably original, as well. Also new to me is "Read It and Weep", which is pretty drivin' with some cool changes, and there are some obvious Who influences in "Seventeen", but ain't nothin' wrong with that! For some reason the fidelity drops on "Frustration", and the bass drum is almost annoyingly loud, but it's another hep tune with more neat guitar noodling. This moves directly into "Down in Flames" (where the Dead Boys got their name and which they recorded), with Cheetah pretty much duplicating what he would later do in the Boys, but with Laughner giving it a great counterpoint, and then the finale is "Search and Destroy", again being unafraid to show their inspiration.

I have loved Life Stinks since I first found it, but this is even wilder and more unbridled! I'd say this is essential!