All Systems Go for a 3rd time with RFTC!

All Systems Go 3!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: “Violent, aggressive, thuggish stuff…” and he’s not wrong.

Opening track ‘Falling Down The Stairs’ (complete with Speedo’s trademark “ooohh”), rumbles along with a tight-rhythm heavy drone, bass crunching and guitars wailing. It sounds very early Rocket, almost ‘Circa Now!‘ Style material ”“ 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 Bummer’ contains one of those trademark Speedo guitar-slides that sounds simply sublime and a tremendously boisterous trumpet blast on the track’s fist-in-the-air chorus, despite its somewhat negative connotations.

Most stylish band ever.Out of the 3 demos, ‘Chariots on Fire’, ‘Dick on a Dog’ and ‘When In Rome (Do The Jerk)’ it’s ‘Chariots”¦’ that shows very little change from its ‘Group Sounds’ partner, except it’s more sandpaper than the fine Emory board of the re-recording. ‘When In Rome’ 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.  The opening drums on ‘Dick on a Dog’ 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 it’s nice to hear a song from the self-titled album that feels like it’s been force-fed grit, stones and chainsaws.

Alongside the furious pace of their more ‘punk’ orientated tracks, I always find the slower ones to be just as good, if not better. ‘Little Shaver’ is an example of the sextet’s unhurried, melodic-meets-heavy nature, complete with the similar sounding up-down lurch of ‘Break It Up’ and some rather nifty harmonica interludes.

Fancied having your own theme music whilst you swaggered down the street with your posse, cheekily knocking people’s hats off their heads, stealing ice cream, generally being a right bastard but with effortless style? Then ‘Don’t Wanna Be Touched’ would be your theme tune. Trust me; fuck having ‘Little Green Bag’; you want this in-your-face, strutting-cockiness as your music.  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 Lenny’ (Speedo states how he ‘pleasures’ himself over them) the song retains a similar breakneck punk rock pace that was last seen in Hot Snakes. ‘Man Down’ 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 Speedo’s voice is a powerful tool in itself, its absence on instrumental mauler, ‘Tiger Mask’, isn’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. It’s partner in vocal-less crime; ‘The Whip’, bulldozes along with such voracious energy, post-punk riffs and with elements of Speedo’s past act Drive Like Jehu thrown in for good measure.

No Way Out At All’ sounds like Buddy Holly if he jammed a safety pin through his nose, donned a leather jacket, lamped a bouncer and didn’t die in that plane crash in 1959. ‘This Way Out’ (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: “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!


Rocket From The Crypt (no longer updated)
Myspace (not official)
Swami Records
The Night Marchers
Vagrant Records

By Ross Macdonald

Lizard Hips

Junior Vice President of Keep It Fast. In other news: I work in social media, talk about dinosaurs, run a book club and have amazing facial hair. I am also a male man who is still not dead.

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