While the most hardcore of Rocket From The Crypt admirers will take certain tongue-in-cheek statements on this live document of the San Diego outfit’s final show to heart – that the band as good as invented rock ‘n’ roll – many a reader will be most familiar with the departed ensemble through their limited array of hit singles – ‘On A Rope’ dared to breach the UK top 20 in 1996, and its success led to a sizeable live following in this country. I, for one, recall an especially muddy Glastonbury ’98 set – fun, disgusting, times.
The many aren’t who this collection of songs from across the band’s catalogue is aimed at, though; this is for the fan with the energy and spirit of RFTC coursing through their veins, who likes nothing more than the feeling of gig sweat cooling on the small of their back after a night’s thrashing. Recorded in 2005, at San Diego’s Westin Hotel Ballroom, R.I.P. is a CD/DVD set featuring no fewer than 20 audio tracks (okay, so one’s an introduction); the DVD features bonus songs that didn’t make the CD edit, including that hit, but the so-so camera work means it’s little to write home about visually.
Video: 'On A Rope', from R.I.P. DVD
Not that the video quality matters a damn: this isn’t gloss and glitz, it’s punk rock and it’s a blast. R.I.P. dips its toes into RFTC’s breakthrough LP, Scream, Dracula, Scream! (1995), a number of times: ‘Middle’, ‘Born in ‘69’ (vocalist/guitarist/producer John ‘Speedo’ Reis certainly was), ‘Come See Come Saw’ and ‘Used’ all receive stirring airings. It’s the rarely heard (outside the bedrooms of fans, anyway) numbers that make this an appealing ‘best-of’ style package for newcomers, though: opener ‘French Guy’ dates from 1991, before the band came to major label and mainstream attentions, and penultimate offering ‘Ditch Digger’ is lifted from RFTC’s second LP Circa Now!, originally released in 1992. Little nuggets of history, served flaming hot at a farewell most fond.
Fans travelled from all over the world for the Westin Hotel show, and it’s fitting that it’s been captured, warts and all, for posterity; the band’s bigger shows, enjoyed at the height of their commercial popularity, would never have been blessed with an atmosphere as frenzied as what’s on record here. As Reis bids his fans a final farewell, there’s the slightest trace of a choking-up, that little lump in the throat. He’s too rock to cry, baby, but he and the band knows it: they came, saw, conquered, combusted. Brilliantly.
While it’s no Thunder Down Under, the final (and also live) release from another of Reis’ many outfits Hot Snakes, R.I.P. firmly establishes Rocket From The Crypt as one of few ‘90s punk rock outfits that will be genuinely missed (Fugazi, At The Drive-In, and…?), and incredibly warmly remembered. They’re an essential part of Reis’ progress – he’s now in The Night Marchers – and without them… Well, I wouldn’t have ever had so much mucky festival fun back when.
8Mike Diver's Score