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R.I.P. (Live)

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Album Review

Over the course of the 1990s few rock & roll bands put up the kind of numbers that Rocket from the Crypt did. One classic album (1995's Scream, Dracula, Scream), three albums that rocked far harder than 99-percent of the competition (1992's Circa Now, 1995's Hot Charity, 1998's RFTC), and a boatload of excellent singles (collected on All Systems Go and All Systems Go, Vol. 2) alone would have made them a band to remember and love forever. On all these albums, and especially in their live set, the group played every note like it mattered and they created a joyful, intense, and wildly energetic noise that jumped out of the speakers like flames. Sadly, due to the usual reasons that bands break up, RFTC split up in 2005. Happily, all the albums still sound fresh and alive many years after their release, and more specifically, R.I.P. exists to document the band's raw power, thunder and lightning live set. Recorded at their farewell show in front of a hometown San Diego crowd, the band is hyped up for the occasion and tight as hell. The guitars are raw and ready, the horns awesome as ever and Speedo's vocals are even better than on the band's studio records; tough, rough and perfectly imperfect as he spits fire, gargles razorblades, and tosses off bitterly hilarious asides. (And his liner notes are great — a wonderful mix of self-deprecation and self-mythologizing.) The set list the band charges through with barely a stop for breath reads like a greatest hits: "On a Rope," "Boychucker," "Pigeon Eater," "Born in '69," "A+ in Arson Class," and "Used" all have the stuffing kicked out of them, and the finale of "Ditch Digger" and the mighty "Come See Come Saw" will have hardcore fans of the band wiping away a tear at the sheer fury and brilliance. Along with the CD, you get a DVD of the set. The band rise to the occasion with numerous costume changes (Speedo looking particularly dapper in his Screamin' Jay Hawkins getup) but the shaky, grainy camera work makes it kind of a slog to get through the whole set. It's a good idea to watch the show once for posterity but you won't keep going back to it like you will the CD. R.I.P. is both a testament to one of the great American rock & roll bands and a swift kick to the hindquarters to anyone who slept on the band back in the day. You missed something truly inspiring.


Formed: 1990 in San Diego, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Pledging to never play a venue with a stage, singer/guitarist John Reis formed San Diego's Rocket from the Crypt in the summer of 1990 after becoming disillusioned with his then-current hardcore punk band, Pitchfork. Bassist Petey X, guitarist N.D., drummer Sean, and backing vocalist Elaina joined the band's initial lineup, and Rocket from the Crypt released Paint as a Fragrance in 1991. While the debut increased the band's profile, a lineup change ensued as Sean and Elaina left the San Diego area....
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