One for Friday: Rocket From the Crypt, “Lipstick”

I employed a lot of methods to try to keep up with new music once I’d graduated from my college radio station to “the real world,” which, I assure you, was, if anything, less real than the noncommercial broadcast outlet that I’d left. It was in the days before a countless number of online purveyors typed out everything any living soul could possibly want to know about every band out there so I relied on magazines, newspaper articles (this is band when the Chicago Tribune was actually a genuine newspaper) and what little I could glean from the fairly rare parts of their schedule when the local community-run radio station played music that could be considered college rock. I also, as the song went, relied on a little help from my friends.

In particular, I had a friend who’d wisely gone back to our shared college town and offered up some of his time to volunteer for the campus radio station, taking up residence on Sunday nights, a slice of programming territory that he still claims. Given a free hand, he structured the show to take advantage of his earned knowledge of older music (older in a college radio context, anyway) while also providing the impetus, even need, to dig into the albums residing on the station’s new releases shelf. Whenever I was feeling especially detached from the music scene I loved, I could call him up and ask, “So, what’s the best new thing out there?” Those conversations often ended with me going straight to the record store.

Like any good music enabler, he also had a fine memory. Brief, beer-fueled conversations from months earlier became the foundation for fresh recommendations. He knew what I liked and when something similar caught his attention, he was quick to share the enthusiasm. We talked one night about the Rocket From the Crypt album Scream, Dracula, Scream!, leading him to call me up months later to tout the pleasures on the band’s follow-up, RFTC. And he was damn right to do so. Much as I admired the previous album, RFTC was more in my wheelhouse, with sharp pop songcraft tempering the hard rock grind and the inclusion of unexpected, even mildly incongruous horn parts, which just scratched that eternal itch that the Replacements’ Pleased to Meet Me embedded in me. “Lipstick” was the song he centered his praise upon all those years ago, so why should I take any different tack. As my friend said, you gotta hear it.

Rocket From the Crypt, “Lipstick”

(Disclaimer: Though a lack a crack research team or the wherewithal to call up a label or other copyright holder to verify my suspicions, I’m going to assume that, on the basis of available evidence, that RFTC is out of print, at least in its physical form. It can be bought through digital means, but we all know how shady that situation is when it comes to compensating artists. It also doesn’t help the record store down the street. So this song is presented here with the idea that it can’t be purchased under optimum conditions, providing compensation to though who both need it and deserve it the most. That record store proprietor who counts on regular purchases can order Scream, Dracula, Scream! for you any time you like. I’m making this stand on the fair usage of this song, but I do cave very easily. Simple contact from anyone with the due authority to request its removal will result in just that, as promptly as I can manage it.)

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