Cleveland pre-punk legends Rocket From the Tombs are putting the final touches on their first official LP, an album nearly 30 years in the making. Rocket Redux comes on the heels of the band's summer reunion tour, which marked its first gigs since the group disbanded in 1975, when it splintered into Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys.
Though Rocket never released an album, its legacy endured, kept alive by a series of sonically lackluster bootleg records. Spurred by a warm reception on the road, the group hit the studio to record on modern equipment for the first time. Rocket Redux will consist of 12 tracks, a mix of studio cuts and songs recorded live over the summer. A month-long national tour begins this week and stops at the Beachland Ballroom on November 30.
"At the end of the last show, we said, 'We could do this for another week or two,'" says Rocket guitarist Gene O'Connor, a.k.a. Cheetah Chrome.
Smog Veil, the Nevada label that issued Rubber City Rebels' Pierce My Brain and last year's ClePunk comp, will release Rocket Redux in early 2004. The LP will include classics such as "Final Solution" and "30 Seconds Over Tokyo," a Rocket track later recorded by Pere Ubu. "I'm real happy with the album," says Chrome. "I think we were able to capture the original atmosphere."
The Beachland show will be a benefit for Pere Ubu guitarist Jim Jones, who has suffered from a prolonged illness and recently underwent heart bypass surgery.
· Soul singer Gerald Levert bows at No. 6 on the Billboard Top 200 with his latest, Stroke of Genius. The Elektra album sold 97,000 copies in its first week, besting first-week sales of last year's The G Spot, (75,000). Rolling Stone gave the new album three stars, praising Levert as "an authority on sultriness."
· On tour in Europe, Integrity mastermind Dwid has formed a second project, this one presumably less of a one-man show. Sledgehammer features the vocalist, backed by a Eurocore crew: Liar bassist Hans, Congress/Empathy drummer Tim, Empathy/Liar guitarist Matthias, and Death Before Disco axeman Birger. Sledgehammer is shopping a handful of demo tracks to labels. The band's website is www.sledgehammerhc.com.
· Mushroomhead singer J. Mann's fledgling label, Fractured Transmitter Record Co., is planning a 2004 tribute album for seminal stoner-rockers the Melvins. We Reach: The Music of the Melvins will feature tracks from noted local metal groups Disengage, Keelhaul, and Abdullah, in addition to such metal and post-hardcore luminaries as the Dillinger Escape Plan, High on Fire, Meshuggah, and Strapping Young Lad. Mann, who keeps busy between 'Head activities by working as tour support for numerous bands, says the majority of the tracks will be straightforward (albeit heavy) adaptations of Melvins tunes.
Mushroomhead's XIII, meanwhile, continues to perform well: After the first-week sales of 28,000, the LP has moved another 21,000 copies.
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