Staff Top 10
Top Ten Rocket From The Crypt Songs That Reference Animals

for over a decade, Rocket From The Crypt (led by Swami Records honcho and Drive Like Jehu/Hot Snakes guitarist John “Speedo” Reis) have been the Meat Lover’s Pizza of Rock’n’Roll: platter after platter of riffs, chants, crescendos, horn swells and vocal hooks thrown at a pummeling-yet-pop pace. It’s so dense that they could slip some cat in between the pepperoni and ham and you wouldn’t know the difference. Some might not be able to stomach this much carnage, but for the American rock glutton there is little that can compare to the trash’n’flash these guys whip out with disturbing frequency.

Aside from their musical gifts, they’ve also got stage names, a rowdy fashion sense (their Halloween costumes are a hoot), a stage show rife with inspired choreography and delicious patter and a love, a DEEP love for the animal kingdom. A cobra on the cover of Group Sounds, a gorilla on RFTC and a scorpion for Scream, Dracula, Scream! My t-shirt’s got a panther playing the bongos on it. They throw this fetish into the lyrics too, and here’s some highlights. (Caveat: “Tarzan” was disqualified because I wrote everything I had to say about it for the Stypod two weeks ago):

10. “Too Many Balls” (Live From Camp X-Ray)
It’s a bit of a cheat, but the climax of Rocket From The Crypt’s latest full-length deserves more attention. The album as a whole is their most concise and lyrically pointed work to date, confronting the detachment the average American feels from the international chaos following 9/11 and describing how frat-acular our current administration comes off. Kathleen Hanna should drop the awkward sloganeering on “New Kicks” and cover this propulsive rail against unchecked testosterone: “brain-washed ANIMALS, high on rape / So much cum that I never feel safe”.

9. “Heart Of A Rat” (Group Sounds)
Burnt by major label bullshit and forced to borrow Superchunk’s drummer (Ruby Mars had yet to join the fold), “Heart Of A Rat” (off of 2001’s Vagrant debut and arguable career peak Group Sounds) is like the end of Bad News Bears, where the losers get to sing the victory march anyway. “O-o-o, I want to make it / I want silk robes in my closet too / I want trophies to remind me of the times that I sold you out / The heart of a rat is a lonely one”. Live, the horn break will give you goosebumps.

8. “Who Let The Snakes In?” (Cut Carefully And Play Loud)
Highlighted by a very rarely deployed organ, this track is a bit hard to decipher (is the kid still hot or is he still hiding out?) but the combination of guitar squeal and Vegas pep here is like the secretive addictive chemical in Kentucky Fried CHICKEN that makes you crave for it nightly. And you know where I think they got the idea to fling horns onto the already potent rawkage? A hysterical hit by the Osmonds called “Crazy HORSES”. Check it out if you don’t believe me (it should be easy to find on any budget comp). That song is so RFTC.

7. “Ghost Shark” (Group Sounds)
“And the villagers knew the forbidden ways of the ghost shark. And that they must answer to him before anything else—the ghost shark”.

6. “Cheetah” (All Systems Go! 2)
Can’t do a song called “Tarzan” (where YOU can be his Tarzan and HE can be your Jane, rowr) and not do a song called “Cheetah”. He has his scars, he has his feet, he digs his claws into what he needs. Judging by RFTC’s “Eye On You” and the excellent outtakes (like this one) she also appears on, Holly Golighty sure brought the jungle beast out of Speedo.

5. “Feathered Friends” (Hot Charity)
I think this is about those birds that groom rhinos. Possibly wimps. Anyhow, it’s woozy and slow.

4. “If The Bird Can Fly” (Cut Carefully And Play Loud)
I think this is about penguins. Possibly flipping people off. Anyhow, it’s snarly and speedy.

3. “Pigeon Eater” (All Systems Go!)
I have no idea what this is about. Early RFTC was more about the adrenaline rush than coherency.

2. “Raped By Ape” (All Systems Go! 2)
Rather than trying to figure out why someone would scream “Raped by ape, shoot it through a hole!” and follow it with "Check me out!", I suggest pogoing. Then giggle when they atypically stumble and collapse.

1. “Dick On A Dog” (RFTC)
This exceptional party track (very Otis Day & The Knights) could have been a hit back in the time of Bosstone if the label had given a shit and the song wasn’t about pee-pees. “No standing around. No more being bound. I got the new colossus / We can work it ruby red”.

Honorable mentions: Panic Scam (“laugh at the jackals!”), Savoir Faire (“That pig needs a warning!”), Spitting (“It’s a fact that monkeys always scream when belt-tied to a tree!”), Bring Us Bullets (“Was Darwin a Nazi? Evolved into hated, a hypnotized monkey!”) & Run Kid Run (“King Kong’s bustin’ loose!”)

By: Anthony Miccio
Published on: 2004-10-08
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