David Thomas is having a helluva year. With Pere Ubu in the midst of a spectacular string of reissues on Fire Records, the most recent release of which was the absolutely essential Elitism For The People 1975-1978, the main Ubu man has gone and resurrected -- but were they ever really dead? -- the pre-Ubu proto-punks Rocket From The Tombs. The band have prepped a new album called appropriately enough Black Record and it drops in a week or so on Fire Records.
For a guy who claimed in an interview with me that he never felt connected to punk, Thomas sure feels adept at this sort of thing. Then again, Rocket From The Tombs were pre-punk, in a sense, and as such beyond genre.
If "Welcome to the New Dark Ages" offers up a near-boogie kinda stomp, then "Strychnine" shreds all doubters in a furious and evil rush of glory. Delicious! After offering up a take on "Sonic Reducer" that most people know from The Dead Boys and not from its earlier Rocket From The Tombs incarnation, the band buzz through the Swell Maps-ish "I Keep A File On You" which positively shakes the foundations.
By the time we get to "Coopy (Schrodinger's Refrigerator)" we are in Beefheart territory and one could be forgiven for imagining the ghost of the good Captain rocking out Obi Wan Kenobi Force ghost-like in the shadows.
If "Read It And Weep" is a winning bit of American punk that sounds simultaneously fresh and like a classic from 1977, then the wonderfully-titled "Parking Lot at the Rainbow's End" sounds as good as the best stuff from David Thomas -- here named Crocus Behemoth -- in his guise as leader of Pere Ubu.
One could wonder why Thomas chose now to to restart the brand Rocket From The Tombs but it matters little; this is furious music that shoots adrenaline up the spine. There's more fury and energy here than most of the music being made by kids young enough to be David's grandchildren. A primer on exactly what American punk was, is, and needs to remain, Black Record from Rocket From The Tombs is a revelation and thank God that these cats are back.