All those who’ve been squawking about Cleveland’s Rocket From the Tombs being punk’s great missing link should stop reading right now. Or you’ll faint. “Muckraker” has always been a retread of Humble Pie’s “One-Eyed Trouser Snake Rumba.” For Rocket Redux‘s redo there’s even a Peter Frampton modal curlicue in the outro, maybe an in-joke by one of the guitar players. If so, it’s applause-worthy.
Three decades late, RFTT have checked in with a better-than-average early/mid-’70s hard rock sound. You can find Michael Bruce hiding in it, dueling lead guitars, and like it or not, about the same middle-of-the-road smack as Earl Slick’s old Razor Sharp LP. Nothing fantastic, just steak-and-taters guitars and drums with some fervor sprinkled in to keep things from getting too bogged.
What you want to know, though, is whether Redux is better, or at least different, than The Day the Earth Met the . . . Well, it’s cleaner and shorter, not as hirsute. And the new “Sonic Reducer”—a good version—has David Thomas on quailing voice, rather than Cheetah Chrome. But the original rehearsal tape was still more than good enough. Plus, the galumphing “You didn’t bleed!” bass boogie with long fuzz wank of “Transfusion” is nowhere to be heard. Why’d they leave it out?