31 January 2016

Rocket from the Crypt - Scream, Dracula, Scream!

I have so many reviews in the pipeline that I have sort of developed writers block, so in order to recharge my batteries I have decided to review an album that I have not listened to in many years that I used to play religiously.  But not one of my big hits, something that I loved but I did not play to death and ended up mundane and drab.  Which brings me to this album here, 'Scream, Dracula, Scream!' by Rocket from the Crypt.  When this first came out I had it on CD and record (or vinyl if you are a hipster), one for in the house and one for travelling back in the days when music was more important that other things (music is still a high priority, but so is having a roof over my head).  I remember that summer as I listened to this in a loft, looking out of the window and time seemed to be going forever.  But the album is now 21 years old, and I am no longer a young man; but I am not having a mid-life crisis and wanting to buy cars and have a confidence crisis - I am just wanting to see if this album still holds the magic that it had for me all those years ago when I first fell under its charm.  Brief back story to the album itself; Rocket from the Crypt formed in 1989 and this was their fourth album, it is their best known in the UK and it was their highest charting album at 41. The album is a trilogy of releases from the band in 1995 (together with the album 'Hot Charity' and the EP 'The Streets of Art is on Fire'). It also had three singles in the top 75, with "On A Rope" reaching number 12, they were on lots of TV shows and looked like they would take over the world; however, they just seemed to keep at the level that suited them.  However, it is not the future of the band I am talking about, it is this album and now it is time to see how it has aged and if it is still the powerhouse I remember to be......

"Middle" starts this album, it is not so much a song as an explosion of riffs, drums and horns; the words are - Are You Stuck In The Middle, Are You Broken, Are You Damn - or various variations on those words.  It sounds like "Feel Good Hit For The Summer" by Queens of the Stone Age before they took the idea and added Rob Halford and it is still in my top ten opening track of an album ever.  It sounds like it has attitude dripping from every pour, it reeks of cool and this has not changed since the first time I heard it crackle out of the speakers - this could be a good review.  "Born In '69" is actually the first song I heard from the band, it felt like a shock to the system and made me want to dance around like a silly person; these days it just makes me smile as you remember those days when everything seemed different.  It is a fun two minute, punk rock anthem that is designed to make you bounce around and it is not trying to sell you something, be a hip brand or even be cool - at the time these guys were up against the end of grunge and the emergence of brit-pop, you could not have had a different look.  The chorus has a sick hook that will stick in your mind for ages and it has aged very well indeed.  Next is "On A Rope" which (as previously mentioned) was their highest UK charting single, it was the only one that would be played when I went out and it did get the "Smells Like Teen Spirit/Walk" treatment (songs which you love, but they get over played too much.  Thankfully, there has been a lot of distance since those dizzy days and now it just sounds like a fine rock n roll number, mixed in with a little punk and with a catchy chorus that is missing from the modern music scene.  When I was younger it was always this trio of songs that made me smile, to this day it is still the same.  "Young Livers" was one of the three tracks to be released from this album, it is a mid-paced punk n roll anthem which has a decent hook, nice riff and the band sound good on the song; but I have always thought it was not the best track to be a single, it just lacked the punch of the others and that is still the same now.  It delivers the good times and it is a great song to hear live, but it does not hold your attentions as other songs do on this album.

Next is the song "Dropout", much like most of this album, it is just a rebellious song that does not have much in the way of lyrical context to dig into; it is a song about dropping out of the system and not giving two fucks about the world.  To this day I still do not know why this was picked over "Young Livers", as good as the other song is performed, this is the superior track and still floors me after all these years.  It just sounds like it comes from a dark part of the mind of the band, it is pissed off and it just is going for broke as it has nothing to lose - it is a lost anthem on this album, there is more of them to come (this is probably turning into a love letter to this album, oh dear......). "Used" was a song that I did not appreciate until years later, it is an old school rock n roll song that is crafted in a truly old school vein and when I was younger it was not a number I appreciated as much.  It just felt a little light, but the older me wants to smash the back of the younger me around the head and tell him off.  It is just a gem of a track, it has the right amount of boogie, attitude and the perfect mix of sound to give this album a different side.  It might not be the song I would return to the most if I am honest, but it is the most improved number for me and that is a big tribute for me as I was not fussed by it at all before, now I think it is one of the best on the album.  "Ball Lightning" however, is a song that has not really hit me; the song itself is performed as good as good as anything else on the album, it is also a song which I can see an argument being made for it being another lost classic from the album.  But it has always been one that does not make me as excited as other songs on the album, but it has once again improved over the years with a slight surf rock undertone being weaved into the tone of the number.

The second half of the album starts with "Fat Lip" and it sounds like the fight beginning once again for the band on this song, it has a large dose of aggression that was missing from other numbers on the album, which to be fair is probably for the best as you need light and shade on a record to make it more fluid.  This one sounds as if the band were trying to create a song that captures their chaos and combines the punk and rock n roll, it does it perfectly as they sound fierce and on fire with this number.  "Suit City" is another song that did not gel in my mind when I was a kid, it just seemed to fizzle out and go nowhere fast for me back then; but in the here and now, it has improved massively.  It starts with a climbing, looping riff before the rest of the band join in and take this simple tune and drive it as if the devil himself is on their tails - younger me really knew jack shit when it came to music.  "Heater Hands" slows things down slightly, but not the intensity.  It is a bruising number that could start a fight in an empty room, it has the devil may care attitude and does not give two fucks what the rest of the world thinks.  Whilst I has still not warmed to it after all this time, I can appreciate it for what it is - a good song that will have its audience and sound like a party is about to erupt.  "Misbeaten" is more rock n roll than punk, it has that old school vibe that would not be out of place in a 50's era movie and would be used to give the audience a break in their live shows.  Out of the (for want of a better word) gentler sounding songs on the album, it is still the one that makes me smile the most, it just seems to go back to a time when the songs were innocent and everything had hope and high prospects.  The song itself is not so innocent as it is a song about rejection, something that is familiar in many love song; it is a hidden gem on this album and is one that people should not skip over.

"Come See, Come Saw" however is a song that keeps on improving as the years go by for me, each time I listen to it I just wonder why it was left as an album track when it is one of the best the RFTC ever wrote (much like "Dropout").  The bass and drum combo at the beginning indicates the way that the song is going to go as it pulses along and grabs your attention from the start, shortly to be joined by the guitars, brass section and vocals as the band into another high-octane, punk rock spliced with a large dose of rock n roll and streak of attitude that can probably be scene from the international space station (that last bit might be a fib).  The penultimate track is called "Salt Future" which takes the pace down to a rebellious stride and makes a noise that would not be out of pace in a rock n roll gang style war; greasers and jocks are about to have a brawl and this is the soundtrack to the fight.  It is a great little number and whilst it might not be the song I would go to straight away on the album, I have always had a soft spot for it as it just oozes style and confidence.  Ending the album is "Burnt Alive" which takes even more out of the sound, the guitars are toned down, there is an organ attached to the song, the drums sound as if they are being hit like a heart beating fast whilst driving a fast car, the brass section drives the number higher and gives this song a distinct sound to the rest of the album.  Again, this is a song which I did not appreciate when it first came out and it is only years later when it has made sense; but not I just smile each time I hear it and it is another of my favourite songs off this album.

This album has matured incredibly well, considering there is a ton of albums from that time which now sound like hyped up pieces of shit.  The songs have taken on a life of their own for me, it is no longer the going out album that I used to listen to.  It is an undiscovered gem of a record that showed a band at one of their peaks.  It is not the deepest of records, it can never be accused of talking about the big issues of the day; but that is not what Rocket From The Crypt are about, they are just a rock n roll band who are trying to bring the party to you.  I love this record, it is about two tracks too long and I do not care - you would be a fool not to listen to is! Scream for them interlink!!!!

8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track - Dropout

You can purchase Scream Dracula Scream on Amazon here

You can visit the Rocket From The Crypt website here

At time of writing, Scream Dracula Scream is not available on either Deezer or Tidal

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