Band – Rocket From The Crypt
Album – All Systems Go Vol. 3
Label – Vagrant
Release – 26th August (LATE REVIEW)
Sounds like – Garth Brooks being a dick and the Violence Jerk
Despite Rocket From The Crypt hanging up their instruments 3 years ago, they are still churning out records. The first was a re-release of the 1995, ‘The State Of Art Is On Fire‘; cunningly re-titled: ‘The Name of the Band is Rocket From The Crypt‘, with 5 extra tracks (including ‘On The Prowl‘ and ‘Come On‘, which I think are unavailable elsewhere, although I could be wrong.) After this, the proper cut of their ‘RIP‘ CD/DVD combo was released on Vagrant records in February and now (well, in August) the 3rd installment of the ‘All Systems Go‘ series is here. Proof that you can’t keep a good band down, Volume 3 is a collection of ‘lost masters’, with many of these tracks being previously unreleased, album track demos (‘Group Sounds‘ and ‘RFTC‘ years) and various compilation only recordings.
The vaults (or should I say crypt for excellent punnage) at the RFTC headquarters must be heaving like a medical student after a night out. The amount of tracks Speedo and his motley crew have recorded over the years must be into the thousands surely. The quiffed wonder describes the record as: â€œViolent, aggressive, thuggish stuff…â€Â and he’s not wrong.
Opening track ‘Falling Down The Stairsâ€™ (complete with Speedoâ€™s trademark â€œooohhâ€Â), rumbles along with a tight-rhythm heavy drone, bass crunching and guitars wailing. It sounds very early Rocket, almost ‘Circa Now!‘ Style material â€â€œ scrappy and rambunctious. The backing horns in the closing 10 seconds add an incredibly urgent, frustrated coda to what has been a 2 minute-car chase of adrenalin-fuelled rock music.
‘Total Bummerâ€™ contains one of those trademark Speedo guitar-slides that sounds simply sublime and a tremendously boisterous trumpet blast on the trackâ€™s fist-in-the-air chorus, despite its somewhat negative connotations.
Out of the 3 demos, ‘Chariots on Fireâ€™, ‘Dick on a Dogâ€™ and ‘When In Rome (Do The Jerk)â€™ itâ€™s ‘Chariotsâ€Â¦â€™ that shows very little change from its ‘Group Soundsâ€™ partner, except itâ€™s more sandpaper than the fine Emory board of the re-recording. ‘When In Romeâ€™ features washed out drumbeats, a greater emphasis on backing vocals (big, big fan of these), Speedo forgetting the vocals and substituting them with “oogle boogle” and “wow row“, which surprisingly work, adding even more humour to the track.Ã‚Â The opening drums on ‘Dick on a Dogâ€™ resemble someone bashing to sticks against a biscuit tin, (hey, if this stuff was any rawer, it would be jumping off the plate and scampering back into the field to have a long and healthy life) but itâ€™s nice to hear a song from the self-titled album that feels like itâ€™s been force-fed grit, stones and chainsaws.
Alongside the furious pace of their more ‘punkâ€™ orientated tracks, I always find the slower ones to be just as good, if not better. ‘Little Shaverâ€™ is an example of the sextetâ€™s unhurried, melodic-meets-heavy nature, complete with the similar sounding up-down lurch of ‘Break It Upâ€™ and some rather nifty harmonica interludes.
Fancied having your own theme music whilst you swaggered down the street with your posse, cheekily knocking peopleâ€™s hats off their heads, stealing ice cream, generally being a right bastard but with effortless style? Then ‘Donâ€™t Wanna Be Touchedâ€™ would be your theme tune. Trust me; fuck having ‘Little Green Bagâ€™; you want this in-your-face, strutting-cockiness as your music.Ã‚Â Put it this way; The Hold Steady would love to write a song as fucking cool as this.
Despite the somewhat disturbing lyrics in ‘Pictures of Lennyâ€™ (Speedo states how he ‘pleasuresâ€™ himself over them) the song retains a similar breakneck punk rock pace that was last seen in Hot Snakes. ‘Man Downâ€™ passes by in a 34 second burst of pure fury, sounding like a brass instrument factory fighting with Black Flag, before leading nicely into the jaunty arrogance of ‘Summer Survivor‘ that would fit nicely on the ‘Live From Camp X-Ray‘ album next to ‘Outsider.’
Whilst Speedoâ€™s voice is a powerful tool in itself, its absence on instrumental mauler, ‘Tiger Maskâ€™, isnâ€™t missed; as the tracks own rough, surf-style, throwback rock that then spawns into a monstrous beat of blaring horns, cascading cymbal smashes and dirty riffs is truly astonishing. Itâ€™s partner in vocal-less crime; ‘The Whipâ€™, bulldozes along with such voracious energy, post-punk riffs and with elements of Speedoâ€™s past act Drive Like Jehu thrown in for good measure.
‘No Way Out At Allâ€™ sounds like Buddy Holly if he jammed a safety pin through his nose, donned a leather jacket, lamped a bouncer and didnâ€™t die in that plane crash in 1959. ‘This Way Outâ€™ (possible sequel to the aforementioned track), contains the typical Rocket From The Crypt swagger, some excellent drum rolls and more brass than you can blow a trumpet at.
In another statement about the album, Speedo comments that:Ã‚Â “I believe if the band was still around, we would make a record sonically similar to ASG 3.” If the band were still together, releasing music as exceptional as the 20 tracks on this record, I believe the world would be a much better place. Yet another album by a band who’s back catalogue is flawless. A toast to Rocket From The Crypt, the undisputed kings of modern punk and rock ‘n roll – here’s to All Systems Go 4!
By Ross Macdonald