The Cramps

When sorting out my records into their lovely new shelving I found a Cramps album, this was no surprise as I knew I had it, what was a surprise was that I found two more that I had completely forgotten about. I haven’t listened to them since some time in the 80’s as far as I can recall so I gave them a listen to remind myself.

Just in case you didn’t know: The Cramps were an American garage punk band, formed in 1976 and active until 2009. They split after the death of lead singer Lux Interior. The line-up rotated a lot over their existence, with the husband-and-wife duo of Interior and lead guitarist and occasional bass guitarist Poison Ivy comprising the only permanent members. The addition of guitarist Bryan Gregory and drummer Pam Ballam resulted in the first complete lineup in April 1976.

They were part of the early CBGB punk rock movement that had emerged in New York and were one of the first punk bands, and also widely recognized as one of the prime innovators of psychobilly.

Their music is mostly in rockabilly form, played at varying tempos, with a minimal drumkit. An integral part of the early Cramps sound was dual guitars, without a bassist. The focus of their songs’ lyrical content and their image was camp humor, sexual double-entendre, and retro horror/sci-fi b-movie iconography.

Their sound was heavily influenced by early rockabilly, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll like Link Wray and Hasil Adkins, 1960s surf music acts such as The Ventures and Dick Dale, 1960s garage rock artists like The Standells, The Trashmen, The Green Fuz and The Sonics, as well as the post-glam/early punk scene from which they emerged, as well as citing Ricky Nelson as being an influence during numerous interviews. They also were influenced to a degree by the Ramones and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, who were an influence for their style of theatrical horror-blues.

These are the three I have:

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Tracklist

A1 TV Set 3:22
A2 Rock On The Moon 1:43
A3 Garbage Man 3:32
A4 I Was A Teenage Werewolf 3:05
A5 Sunglasses After Dark 3:47
A6 The Mad Daddy 3:16

B1 Mystery Plane 3:40
B2 Zombie Dance 1:53
B3 What’s Behind The Mask 2:06
B4 Strychnine 2:25
B5 I’m Cramped 2:36
B6 Tear It Up 2:31
B7 FeverOrgan 4:16

Track A4,’I was a teenage werewolf’ is why I bought this album initially, though I can’t recall where I first heard the track, I suspect it was the John Peel show though as he played it several times in 1980. I didn’t buy the album until 83/84 though.

Apparently there was a dispute with Miles Copeland over song rights so there was one more album released, Psychedelic Jungle, then a hiatus for a couple of years while all the legal bits and pieces were sorted. After the enforced break they released a live album, this one:

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Tracklist

Thee Most Exalted Potentate Of Love
You Got Good Taste
Call Of The Wighat
Faster Pussycat
I Ain’t Nuthin’ But A Gorehound
Psychotic Reaction

Well, more of an E.P.  or mini album really, it’s 32minutes long, but this is the second record of theirs I have. I don’t remember ever listing to it before so I’ll give it a spin today.

And finally, I have this one:

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Tracklist

How Far Can Too Far Go? 4:10
The Hot Pearl Snatch 3:16
People Ain’t No Good 3:45
What’s Inside A Girl? 3:21
Can Your Pussy Do The Dog? 3:20
Kizmiaz 2:59
Cornfed Dames 5:26
Chicken 1:39
(Hot Pool Of) Womanneed 3:09
Aloha From Hell 2:32
It’s Just That Song 2:32

I remember playing this one much more, lots of puns, innuendo and psychobilly fun. There’s something about them that I’ve always liked, it may be, certainly during the period of the albums I have, how they always seem to be outsiders doing whatever they feel like doing. This may not in reality be true but it is my perception of the band.

Everybody sing along now!

Here kitty kitty.
You better move along.
Cuz the big cats walk at the break of dawn.
Now doggonnit baby.
Oohh I said doggone…Hey can your pussy do the dog?
Can your pussy do the dog?
Can your pussy do the (houndog,
bulldog,
poodlecut) baby?
Can your pussy do the dog?
This whole mess useless now as a whistle on a plow.
If your pussy can’t do the dog.
I’m the king of the jungle.
They call me tiger man.
I’m gonna do the bird.
If I can,
if I can.
My bird can do the dog.
If your pussy can?
Come on and wag that tail.
Baby you can’t fail.
If’n your pussy can’t do the dog.
Hey hey hey…Hully hully gully…No pedigree from France will get you in the dance.
Lessin your pussy can do the dog.
Come on and wag that tail baby you can’t fail.
If’n your pussy can do the dog.
Cha cha cha!

And again, sing it loud:

Whoa…there’s some things baby I just can’t swallow
Mama told me that girls are hollow

Uh-uh…
What’s inside a girl?
Somethin’s tellin’ me there’s a whole nuther world

Ya gotta pointy bra…ten inch waist
Long black stockings all over the place
Boots…buckles…belts outside. W
Hatcha got in there yer tryin’ a-hide?

Hmmm?
What’s inside a girl?
Ain’t no hotter question in a so-called civilized world

Can’t see it by satellite baby that’s cheatin’
The President’s callin’ an emergency meetin’
The King of Siam sent a telegram sayin’
“Wop bop a loop a lop a lop boom bam!”

Wooee…
What’s inside a girl?
Somethin’s tellin’ me there’s a whole nuther world

I will probably keep my eyes open for anything else that pops up in the used bins and add to these three at some point as I just can’t seem to help liking them. They are the sort of band I think I would have liked to be in when I was of the right age and attitude.

Vocalist Lux Interior passed away in February 2009, so it is unlikely that we will see any more output from The Cramps, unless it is demo versions or alternate takes, that sort of thing. I’ll be listening to all three of these in full again though, they are really rather better than I remember.

Ragtings

Songs the lord taught us: 8.2
The smell of female: 7.8
A dage with Elvis: 8.3

4 Comments

  1. Dave

    Had a girlfriend in the 80’s mad on the Cramps. They sort of passed me by really.
    Probably won’t be investing in them now. However, blog was interesting.
    Dave

    Like

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