Rocket Redux

Feb 18, 2004 at 12:00 am
High energy ain’t dead, dad. So say the Rubber City Rebels. These Akron semi-legends return from a 20-year hiatus (history lesson:  they were a glam cover band that started doing revved-up, bad taste originals, opened a club in Akron where Devo, Bizarros and Pere Ubu did early shows, signed to Sire, moved to Los Angeles, worked with the Knack and put out an LP on Capitol before fizzling out). Bad taste is timeless, of course, and these 12 songs are absolutely nothing you’ve not heard before, just junky, chunky, loud and fun. And it’s certainly more exciting than anything you’re likely to tune in on a local radio station that prides itself on its eclecticism by playing the same tasteful major label selections as other similar "different" stations throughout America. And what’s not to love about songs that canvas such topics as Stiv Bators, pinheads, being old, being stillborn and the stupidity of piercing and tattoos? The Rubber City Rebels or Ryan Adams: the choice is yours.

Whereas the RC Rebels are apt to be scorned by your average bore, Rocket From The Tombs may get lip service for spawning Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys. Aside from pockets of record collector geeks, this legendary band remained basically unheard of until Smog Veil released some archival live and rehearsal tapes a couple of years ago. The collection led to a handful of reunion shows and ultimately, this new studio recording of some of the highlights of their current live set.

On this, original RFTT members Cheetah Chrome (Dead Boys), Craig Bell (Mirrors/Saucers) and David Thomas (Ubu) are joined by Godhead Television guitarist Richard Lloyd (in whose studio this was recorded) and current Ubu drummer Steve Mehlman. The recording quality is raw and great, and Lloyd does an admirable job subbing for late guitarist Peter Laughner.  This is a great album to play loud, and serves as a reminder that ideas, art and raw energy don’t have to be mutually exclusive properties in music, something to consider in an era where the rock camp hosts such unimaginative cornballs as Jet or the Datsuns, and intelligence is represented by the stomach-turningly "clever" Fountains Of Wayne or the neuter-wave of Ima Robot.