Monday, January 4, 2010

Gay French GWAR, or: 'Hello, 2010'

There's literally no way you read those three words and didn't want to know what they were talking about. It's important to kick 2010 off on this site in the best way possible, and those words are it. Let's aim high. Let's light up the night and sear a blinding scar of pure glam rock into the day. Let's talk about Rockets.

Or "The Rockets." I don't know; apparently and the Italian Wikipedia aren't entirely sure themselves. I have no idea how I ran across this. My only guess was that I got in another pop-culture throwdown with a buddy of mine who directs music videos and occasionally tosses me a writing-related bone. (I totally came up with a video idea Jack White rejected! OMG!) This happens now and again: we're both drunk/tired and don't feel like writing or coming up with anything, and the Youtube one-upmanship suddenly bursts out. It's a testament to how protracted these things become that I think it's reasonable to suspect I may have found this and forgotten completely. Whatever its origin, it's fucking sublime:

Now, I don't know about you, but when I see a guy wearing a black bodysuit and a gold lamé vest like an extra on the original series of Star Trek and spastically shaking back and forth like Joba Chamberlain recording a strikeout or having something shiny taken away from his crib, I have to watch the shit out of whatever he's doing. In this case, apparently he's making glam-electro-pop in a way that combines the technicist aesthetic of Kraftwerk, the devotion to makeup of the Blue Man Group and the sort of willingness to do anything conceptually weird that you might expect from David Bowie and Elton John getting drunk and trying to one-up themselves in a Broadway costume department.

That's at least where my use of "gay" comes from. I don't mean it in a pejorative sense: I just have a hard time thinking that this level of campy glam was meant to appeal to a mostly straight audience or aesthetic. However gay GWAR is — and it's pretty gay — it overcompensates with comic aggression to ward that off. Take away their spikes and gnashing teeth, and they're basically a bunch of Dee Sniders with more time to apply foundation. They're Raider Nation without the black or the football. Cosmetically I guess Rockets are supposed to be aliens, but mostly they're just fabulous.

I wanted to figure out more about them, but as said, and Wikipedia don't have much. The "read more" link on Amazon provides a fairly serious summary, but it's not a lot of fun. For that, you have to go to the Italian Wikipedia, because apparently these guys were really big in France and Italy. But, since I can't read Italian (and chances are neither can you), I have to run to Google Translator's rendering of the Italian Wikipedia entry. And that summary is awesome.

Some highlights:
The Rockets were a band very popular in French Italy between the '70s and '80s for hits like Future Woman, Space Rock, One More Mission, Electric Delight, and especially the cover On the Road Again, still heard on the radio, and Galactica, the true torment of 1980.... Their home was rock genre, called immediately by the press "space-rock" for the grain age style and appearance of theatrical texts, and electronic sounds and alien. Later it was instead associated with the disk, and finally to the electronic pop (synthpop), even though's probably wrong.

The Rockets are remembered for several reasons:

• Presented themselves to their performances as real extraterrestrials, covering his face with a special cream silver and dressed in overalls silvery fabric design age style;
• Their concerts were characterized by the use of spectacular visual effects (laser and smoke), pyrotechnics, grenades and bazookas as flames shot (which happens often that some viewers will hurt).... They were among the first in December 1977 to include the effect of laser light in their concerts (along with Pink Floyd and Genesis and the first Pooh).
Fuck yes. I love The Rockets. I love Pooh, true torment and will hurt. The Rockets are amazing.

Let this song be a positive, uplifting, silver-alien-faced anthem for an amazing year to come. Let us give true torment by claiming this song was the inspiration for that nerd show about the flesh-bodied robots who believed in Jesus and liked making genocides. Put this in the player and a Coors Light in your hand. It's time to shake and punch the air. It's time for this futuristic look at 2010 to come true.
I have touched down, without any sound
No life around
That is how it all began
Now the time is right for change

I was designed in a robotic way
I am programmed to help the human race
I speak your language and I've come today
To solve the problems you've now got to face
You used to crawl
You had lost your soul
Poor manking, now the time is right for change
Now you've got to play the game

Message to you
From the robotic race
Hear the rockets
Preach our case

Now the time is right for change
Too true.