Release Date: Sep 12, 2011
Record label: Fire Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Proto-Punk
It's rather unusual that a band would form in 1974 and not get around to recording a proper debut album until 2010, but nothing about Rocket from the Tombs was ever ordinary. A pack of smart, angry misfits who gathered in Cleveland, Ohio to make tough, noisy, but arty rock & roll, Rocket from the Tombs was largely the brainchild of songwriter and guitarist Peter Laughner and vocalist David Thomas, and when the group split up after a little less than a year, two members (Cheetah Chrome and John Madansky, aka Johnny Blitz) would go on to form the Dead Boys, while Laughner and Thomas would launch the first lineup of Pere Ubu. Rocket from the Tombs became a legend among scholars of punk history (especially after Laughner died in 1977), though hardly anyone knew what they actually sounded like until an archival collection of live recordings and rehearsal tapes, The Day the Earth Met the Rocket from The Tombs, was released in 2002.
When assessing the new reunion album by Rocket from the Tombs, it’s hard not to wonder what to make of it. This is a reunion by one of the most simultaneously legendary yet unheard bands in music, one whose influence ranges far and wide yet one that was never able to record a real studio album in its classic incarnation. Should listeners just be grateful to hear something from this band, or should they honestly appraise this record, which is neither a blazing return to glory nor a weird, offbeat experiment? It’s not necessarily a difficult record to analyze, except for its baggage, which, for a devoted fanbase, is enormous.