Though the group's defining lineup would eventually split into the artsy Pere Ubu (featuring Dave Thomas, Peter Laughner and Craig Bell) and the punkier Dead Boys (with Gene "Cheetah Chrome" O'Connor and "Johnny Blitz" Madansky), RFTT managed to turn some unsung soil before devouring itself. The heavyset Thomas went by the moniker Crocus Behemoth in those days, wore judge's robes and scribbled music columns for the Cleveland Scene, now a sister paper to the Riverfront Times. And although he sang the lion's share of songs here (opting for a raspier growl and some organ noodling on cuts such as "Life Stinks" over the bizarre falsetto he'd later discover fronting Ubu), it's Laughner's distinct and fluid guitar playing that launched two of the band's most enduring anthems, "Sonic Reducer" and "Final Solution."
Laughner likewise offers a creepy premonition of his own death in 1977 of acute (read: self-inflicted) pancreatitis on the bluesy ballad "Ain't It Fun," asking some of punk music's most rhetorical questions ever: "Ain't it fun when you're always on the run/Ain't it fun when your friends despise what you've become/Ain't it fun when you get so high that you can't come/Ain't it fun when you know that you're gonna die young/It's such fun." Driving the irony further home on "Never Gonna Kill Myself Again," RFTT seem to have known what they were doing all along: honoring the Stooges, seeing how many cooks they could cram into one kitchen and, above all else, doing it blissfully for themselves.
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