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Rocket From the Tombs - The Day the Earth Met the...Rocket from the Tombs

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Artist: Rocket From the Tombs

Album: The Day the Earth Met the...Rocket from the Tombs

Label: Smog Veil

Review date: Mar. 31, 2002

You could say that Raw Power is better than Funhouse, but you’d be wrong. Cause even if it’s better in itself (doubtful, and what would that even mean anyway?), and even if its volume is LOUD, and even if it has great songs, it doesn’t have the unitary blurg of Funhouse, the shit-slog that time and imitators can neither swallow nor wallow.

You could saw that The Day the Earth Met the…Rocket from the Tombs is better than Raw Power, but you’d be wrong. Cause even if it’s better in itself—the album, bits of three demo and live sessions from 1975-76 played by the pre-Pere Ubu/Dead Boys Cleveland band, begins with “Raw Power,” ends with “Search & Destroy,” and fills in the gap with Stooge-garage extended farther out into punk—it betters its better in a familiar way. Not necessarily familiar at the time—as history, the album is a pretty crucial document of the garage-into-punk move—but familiar now—the move has been moved thus its impact removed by hundreds of other less prescient bands you’ve heard in the quarter-century since. Take distorted overdrive blues, sing about war and death and drugs and Nazis, pose snotty and nihilistic, cacophonize. Great great, but the Stooges are still too there and the Ramones ain’t there yet. Paradigm unshifted.

But, like I said, “in itself” this album is pretty hot shit. A lot of treble ouchage and high-end hurt, ear bleed, blues tweak. A lot of great lyricists and more or less classic songs: David Thomas’s “Sonic Reducer,” “Final Solution,” and “30 Seconds over Tokyo,” Peter Laughner’s “Ain’t It Fun” and “Life Stinks,” Craig Bell’s “Muckraker.” A lot of song-form extensions that others extended later. The model there being “30 Seconds,” a multipartite omen-bomb about dropping bombs, with little riffs, big riffs, noisoid liquefaction, all of them nicked whether consciously or not by later imitators. Can’t blame them—know it or not, you’ve heard this album before if you’ve heard rock before. Rocket from the Tombs certainly helped make history, but history has swallowed them whole…nothing undigested.

Dare 2 compare: Electric Eels, also Cleveland, also mid-70s, also a recent reissue (Eyeball of Hell on Scat). Their music sounds awful even this long after the fact. Screech, clatter, and affectation, makes your muscles seize up, no bass, lyrics to make you puke even post-GG. Compare Laughner’s “Ain’t it fun when you her she’s just a cunt” with their “Girl, always givin’ me diseases/Girl, always cuttin’ me to pieces…You girl, you dirty cunt/You girl, you mental runt/Girl, girl, you’re a girl.” No contest. There’s the same bullshitting all-hate, here misogynistic, elsewhere self- or world-hating, but the Eels twist the knife and then disembowel. They’re discomfiting in a way history, both rock and in partic punk, hasn’t handled, and so’s the nerve-grate of their music. Ouch.

But Rocket from the Tombs. Can rock it. If you like rock you’ll like this because that’s what they are. Tombs because Laughner is dead. And from the? Stooges, yeh, is that a bad thing?

By Sam Frank

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