Friday, June 8, 2012


Obligatory Poison Ivy teaser, or excellent photo? Both. Sue me.

For most of you, the Cramps should need no introduction. I really can't imagine anybody passing through these parts not being completely familiar with their music, and possibly their different incarnations. They were one band who truly carried the rock 'n' roll torch. If that sounds corny, I'm sorry, but I call 'em the way I see 'em, and the way I see it, there is nothing in their thirty plus years of existence that deviated from what rock 'n' roll is, was, and should be. Lux Interior and Ivy Rorschach were teenage record fiends when they met. They moved to NYC and, in the midst of punk rock, played stuff that drew heavily from the rock 'n' roll of the fifties and sixties, without ever seeming retro or hung up on some formulaic sound or look that wasn't completely their own. Despite doing a shitload of covers, all of them sounded like the Cramps, enough so that it was tough to tell the covers from the originals. And, speaking of covers, was there a band that picked them better? The Stones, Creedence, and the New York Dolls come to mind, but in their earliest incarnations. Did they keep they up for thirty years? That's right. They did not.

This whole thing tonight started with the video above of the third incarnation (I believe) of the Cramps doing Ronnie Cook and the Gaylads' "Goo Goo Muck" (mp3s of both below). It occurred to me that not only had I never heard the original before hearing the Cramps' version, it's likely that I never would have heard it had they not had it in their repertoire. The song would have been some ultra-cult record collector geek thing. Instead, the Cramps kept their toe in the back exit so the rest of us could sneak in.

Check the Dutch TV thing above. Lux Interior pretty much nails it at 9:03. He describes rock 'n' roll as succinctly as I've ever heard it described. Rock 'n' roll, says Lux, is "a lifestyle, a fashion, a music, and it's sexual intercourse," and "it separates the squares from the cool people." Yep. Here's some Cramps related stuff. Some has been posted before. Do check the Psychotic Reaction live video (directly below). It's from 2006, possibly some of the last footage shot of them. The kids still had it. Put it this way: would I rather see the 2006 Stones, John Fogerty or the reunited New York Dolls, then even the last incarnation of the Cramps? That's a no brainer. The Cramps were, and always will be, family. That doesn't trump everything, but it doesn't have to. The Cramps may be one of the last great pure all encompassing rock 'n' roll packages. True to their sticky core.

Listen:The Cramps - Goo Goo Muck mp3 at SoundbitesRonnie Cook & The Gaylads - Goo Goo Muck mp3 at The Stranger
The Cramps - Confessions of a Psycho-Cat mp3 at Review Stalker
The Cramps - Let's Get Fucked Up mp3 at 8106
The Cramps - I Was a Teenage Werewolf mp3
at The Mad Makerel
The Cramps - Surfin' Dead mp3
at Indie Shuffle
The Cramps - Human Fly mp3
at Review Stalker
Full length mixes:
Lux & Ivy's favorites, Vol 2, Remastered at The Hound Blog This series should need no introduction (see this post for other volumes).Lux Lives Commemorative CD 2012 Another mix by the Hound. This one was handed out at an annual gathering of Lux Interior fiends and assorted Crampers. Read the story about it, and give it a listen.
The Cramps in the studio with Alex Chilton
at YouTube Very early TV news spot
The Cramps - Ultra Twist (Live, 1995)
at YouTube
The Cramps - Psychotic Reaction (Live, 2006) at YouTube
The Count Five - Psychotic Reaction at YouTube
Poison Ivy of the Cramps; Psychobilly Guitar Goddess at The Selvedge Yard

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great article Tom!! I have seen many Cramps live performances and they were all extremely good. In 1981 I went to go see The Cramps at The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium without an advanced ticket. "Urgh A Music War" was shooting their punk rock doc that night. When I arrived I found out that it was a sold out show. This did not stop me from seeing my favorite rock and roll band however. I walked over to the side of the building and noticed that there was a guy holding a clipboard who was giving backstage passes out to those who were on "the list". I caught a glimpse of a name on the clipboard, Mike Appleton...the name was upside down on the clipboard and I had to make it out really fast . "What's your name?" the fella asked me. "Mike Appleton", I replied. He slapped a backstage pass on me and I was in like Flynn!! I saw the entire show from the stage left wings. The Dead Kennedys, X and The Cramps. Of course The Cramps stole the show!! Lux Interior is Elvis Fucking Christ!! Viva Lux!!