Monday, June 25, 2012

Rocket From The Tombs Plays Real "Cleveland Music"

About ten years ago I got to see the first Rocket From The Tombs performance in 27 years at UCLA. I thoroughly enjoyed it front and center and it was a bit surreal to see them given that in my universe (and my pals'), they loomed as large as any of their own influences. Equals. Prescient, in fact, as they synthesized all that was great about the late 60's/early 70's teenage wasteland culture, honed in on the bare essence and made a new music for young people. That they had risen to that stature is even more amazing because we only had a ninety minute bootleg cassette tape (and the bootleg album and single of portions of that tape). That is all that existed for decades. We knew where it ended up but how did it get there. Is not that first Pere Ubu 45 one of the benchmark recordings of the 20th Century and a total headscratcher to boot. Listen to it again and one wonders from which planet did it emanate. How do we get to Pere Ubu up through lp number two and that perfect first Dead Boys record (Cheetah you are too harsh on the second Dead Boys lp). You are to tell me that somehow, some guys in a rundown loft in Cleveland in 1973-1974 started that? Thanks to folks like Chris that legacy never totally fizzled out. The legacy of Peter Laughner is a whole 'nother piece to the puzzle which I have been spending decades to unravel. Do try to find Richard Hell's excellent piece on Laughner in his book of writings and drawings Hot and Cold. The scan below is from BTC #15 from 1989 which Chris will still sell you. Does anyone know which CLE publication originally published this? Guessing from early 1975. This whole memory jog was started by the best rock memoir that I have read in the past year which is Cheetah Chrome's A Dead Boy's Tale: From the Front Lines of Punk Rock. I finally read Just Kids as well which is older and just as fascinating. About this article . . . Whoa! Where to begin with this one. Who was Lucy D. Smart? I read this thing and think - damn straight! Written by RFTT's own Minister of Information. Read the quotes from these guys - Bell, Laughner and Crocus. There was too much brain power in this band for 1975 CLE for it to possibly last. I am serious. What strikes me is that it is refreshing to know that in the pre-punk dark ages, someone gave some serious ink space to an intelligent and original group of musicians who did not have a record deal or shag hairdos at the time. Where was Gene during this interview? Read his book and get some insight to his headspace at the time.

1 comment:

  1. The article was published in the May 1975 issue of the New Review, a monthly tabloid that was started as a Case Western Review affiliated project that went independent after Exit folded, and which itself died in June 1976. This issue focused on various area musicians. The photo, however, was recycled from an Oct. 18, 1974 story on the band in the CWRU Observer, and features the lineup after Peter Laughner and Chris Kuda, but before Charlie Weiner and Glenn Hach were replaced with Cheetah and Johnny Madansky and (eventually) Darwin Layne.