Blast Off! compiles the Fleshtones' original recording sessions, cut in 1978 and left to molder on the shelf until ROIR rescued them. Even at this early stage in their long, storied career, the band had all the elements of their sound worked out: the garage rock attitude; Peter Zaremba's tough and hilarious vocals; Keith Streng's manic, twangy guitar; and, above all else, the ability to get the party started. Tracks like "B.Y.O.B." and "Watch Junior Go" are built for dancefloors; "Critical List" and "American Beat" are snarling garage punk stompers that destroy the efforts of all other retro-garage bands to follow in the Fleshtones' super rock footsteps. They pick super-cool covers too: Kid Thomas' "Rockin' This Joint," the Strangeloves' "Cara-Lin," and "Soul Struttin'," a bubblegum funk stomper co-written by Marty Thau and Tony Orlando. New York new wave/punk legend Marty Thau actually produced the sessions, and he no doubt convinced the band to cover Suicide's "Rocket USA" and roped in Alan Vega to sing lead on a very convincing version. Unfortunately, the sessions were aborted and were never completed or released until ROIR dug them up in the early '80s. The Fleshtones revisited many of the songs recorded at this time, most notably "Shadowline," on their great debut album, Roman Gods, and "American Beat" for the soundtrack to Bachelor Party. It is very cool to hear them in their original form. Any fan of the Fleshtones should make sure they have the 1978 sessions in their collection in some form. They are the cornerstone upon which the Fleshtones' hall of fame was built. The sessions were also released in 1996 by Red Star, but ROIR's version may be preferable because it is not saddled with a hideous cover like Red Star release.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra