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Old 05-27-2009, 07:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Songs The Lord Taught Us - The Works of The Cramps



Originating in Sacramento and properly formed in 1976 in New York, The Cramps were the ultimate garage and rockabilly revivalists, rampaging their way through the 1980’s and on into the 90's with an unmatched thirst for creating their own piece of post punk history, something they more than achieved.



They had several line-ups through the years but one thing remained the same, the guitarist Poison Ivy (Kristy Wallace) and the bordering on the deviant and charismatic front man, Lux Interior (Erick Purkhiser).

Initially the pair were brought together because of their love for collecting records, and in particular their passion for the forgotten acts of the 1950’s and 1960’s. As a band they paid homage to the time of B movies, freak-outs and Cadillacs in a manner that was raw, primal, and filthy whilst of course remaining very much a part of the underground.



I never saw the band play live, and having tried to play catch up with the bands work over the last couple of years, I am immensely saddened that I will never get the chance to see this great band in person. I therefore would like to dedicate this thread to Lux Interior and hope to pay homage to the original teenage werewolf and his glorious band in a fitting manner.



With this journal I aim to present regular reviews of all of the albums that The Cramps have blessed us with over years, I hope you enjoy.


Main Releases

1979 The Gravest Hits EP IRS
1980 Songs the Lord Taught Us IRS
1981 Psychedelic Jungle IRS
1983 Smell of Female Enigma
1983 Off The Bones Illegal
1986 Date with Elvis Big Beat
1987 Rockin n Reelin in Auckland New Zealand Vengeance
1990 Stay Sick! Enigma
1991 Look Mom No Head! Enigma
1994 Flamejob Medicine Label
1997 Big Beat from Badsville Epitaph
2003 Fiends of Dope Island Vengeance

Final line-up
Lux Interior (Erick Purkhiser) – vocals, Mar 73 to Feb 09
Poison Ivy (Kristy Wallace) – lead guitar, Mar 73 to Feb 09
Harry Drumdini – drums, Feb 93 – Jul 03 & Aug 06 to Feb 09

Notable Former members
Bryan Gregory (Greg Beckerleg) – guitar, Apr 76 – May 80
Nick Knox – drums, Jul 77 - Jan 91
Kid Congo Powers (Brian Tristan) – guitar, Dec 80 – Sep 83
Candy del Mar – bass, Jul 86 – Jan 91
Slim Chance – bass, Mar 91-Aug 98
Nickey Alexander – drums, Jun 91 – Jan 93
Bill "Buster" Bateman – drums, Jun 04 – Aug 06
Scott "Chopper" Franklin – bass & guitar, Jan 02 – Sep 06
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Old 06-01-2009, 04:41 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The Cramps - Gravest Hits EP
(1979)



Tracks

1 Human Fly 2:15
2 The Way I Walk 2:43
3 Domino 3:08
4 Surfin' Bird 5:08
5 Lonesome Town 3:15

After releasing two independent singles in 77, The Cramps were quickly signed to fledgling label IRS in late 1977. Already achieving a significant underground following, The Cramps rose to prominence nationally with the now legendary live performance at the California State Mental Hospital in Napa. On the back of this well achieved notoriety, in 1979 The Cramps re-released their first singles again, as well as a new EP. Released in July 1979 on Illegal/IRS Records, this five track EP was originally recorded in Memphis at The Ardent Studios in 1977. Produced by Alex Chilton, this was The Cramps laying down the blueprint for their Garage Punk Rockabilly sound. On this EP we have one original composition and four Cramptastic covers.



The EP begins with the now infamous Human Fly. This is the only song on the EP which is penned by Ivy and Interior, and would ultimately become the signature tune for The Cramps for many years to come. The 1950’s guitar riff found on this song is nothing short of hypnotic, this fabulous riff is joined by some marvelous reverb and some extraordinary dark and gothic vocals; this really is a staggering song. Following this fine opener is the 1959 Jack Scott song, The Way I Walk. Rock n Roll songs from Detroit are usually perfectly defined to begin with, but here The Cramps fine-tune this beauty so it sounds more akin to a Garage band from 1966 from the same city but with a hint of sinister appeal, howls included. Unashamedly underground and bluesy, with a sprinkling of over the top Elvis impersonations from Interior, this song is splendid.



Another Rock n Roll favorite follows on track 3, The Cramps version of Domino once again creates brilliant results. A lot more upbeat and fast tempo’d than the previous two songs; this is a foot tapper pure and simple. The vocal style of this song from Interior is very reminiscent of those legends of the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Speaking of which, the fourth song on this Garage revival is The Trashmen's groundbreaking masterpiece Surfin’ Bird from 1963. If there was a song made for Lux Interior to perform, this was that song. At just over five minutes, it is much longer than the original; this is in part due to the quite disturbing middle section, which I personally love.



This debut EP finishes perfectly with the ever so lovely cover of Lonesome Town, I say lovely not because it is, but because compared to the previous four songs it is kind of mellow, although the sound of hearing a man sob a minute in is not really lovely at all. One thing that can be said for this song is that it does create a mood, I’ll grant it that.

The Gravest Hits EP was The Cramps announcing to the world of their arrival and what could be expected in future years, launching their manifesto of Garage Punk Rockabilly with absolutely stunning results. As debut EPs go, this must surely rank up there with some of the finest.
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Old 06-12-2009, 05:37 AM   #3 (permalink)
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The Cramps - Songs The Lord Taught Us
(1980)



Tracks

1 TV Set 3:12
2 Rock on the Moon 1:47
3 Garbage Man 3:34
4 I Was a Teenage Werewolf 3:03
5 Sunglasses After Dark 3:47
6 The Mad Daddy 3:47
7 Mystery Plane 2:42
8 Zombie Dance 1:55
9 What's Behind the Mask 2:05
10 Strychnine 2:25
11 I'm Cramped 2:37
12 Tear It Up 2:32
13 Fever 4:16

The Rock n Roll Horror Punk road show rolled into Memphis in 1980 for the first official studio LP for the Marvellous Cramps. Released on Illegal/IRS in May 1980 and not a bass in sight; Songs The Lord Taught Us was recorded in that great Rock n Roll Mecca of the 1950’s, the studio belonging to Sam Phillips, and like the Gravest Hits EP that preceded it, was produced by the brilliant Alex Chilton. As you would imagine, The Cramps’ debut LP is in a similar mould to that of The Cramps’ debut EP from the previous year. There are 13 Tracks in all on this album, but unlike that debut EP, wonderfully it contains a lot more of The Cramps’ own penned material.

The albums begins with the sharp edged TV Set, from the outset with this album you do notice a minor difference from The Gravest Hits EP, in that there is a slight shift towards Punk in a number of these songs, but it is only slight, for instance with TV Set there is still those Garage Psyche and Rockabilly elements at its heart, and of course with Lux Interior on vocals, it can only be The Cramps.



Speaking of truly being The Cramps, despite not being written by The Cramps; track two entitled Rock On The Moon is just one of those songs that I would have loved to have heard the band perform live. Even in the sterile environment of the studio, this song just sounds so invigorating and exciting; once again you can hear that fusion of Punk with that vintage Rock n Roll vibe, quality stuff. The same can be said for Twist & Shout, this really is a cracking album.

This uncanny revival of Rockabilly with an underground edge continues with the absolutely tremendous I Was A Teenage Werewolf, a song which could only be sung by one individual on the face of the planet; an essential listen, its builds and builds to a howling climax, quite brilliant in all fairness. As this is The Cramps, there is also a tale of vampires with the angry and chaotic Sunglasses After Dark, coming through the layers of fuzz to become my favourite Cramps song at this present moment in time.



More Fifties B-Movie paraphernalia flies through the air with Mystery Plane, a song about a UFO which fits into this marvellous album perfectly. What am I missing? Oh yeah Zombies, so no surprise that there is a song entitled Zombie Dance, one for the whole family to join in with I feel. Some noticeable covers are also included with this release; these include a cover of the 1965 Garage master class from The Sonics, Strychnine, and an unusual version of Fever to close the album off perfectly.



At the heart of this album is an uncompromising rhythm, combined with sweet rockabilly guitar, layers of glorious fuzz and an exceptional performance from the front man, all entwined together with some style by the Producer. All bases on this release are covered with none of the parts showing any failings or weakness. This really is a truly fine debut album from a band who knew how to translate their live shows onto vinyl, brilliant stuff.
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Last edited by TheCellarTapes; 06-17-2009 at 04:03 PM.
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Old 06-29-2009, 08:53 AM   #4 (permalink)
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The Cramps - Psychedelic Jungle
(1981)



Tracks

1 Greenfuz 2:09
2 Goo Goo Muck 3:06
3 Rockin' Bones 2:48
4 Voodoo Idol 3:39
5 Primitive 3:32
6 Caveman 3:51
7 The Crusher 1:47
8 Don't Eat Stuff off the Sidewalk 2:04
9 Can't Find My Mind 3:01
10 Jungle Hop 2:07
11 Natives Are Restless 3:00
12 Under the Wires 2:44
13 Beautiful Gardens 3:59
14 Green Door 2:35

After exciting audiences and critics alike after the release of their debut LP in 1980, The Cramps had a couple of changes to make in time for their second release in 1981. Firstly the band lost guitarist Bryan Gregory, and secondly the band left the East Coast and joined the California set in Los Angeles. In December 1980, the band recruited the services of guitarist Kid “Congo” Powers, or Brian Tristan as he was known to his parents, just in time for the recording of their second LP to take place in January 1981 at AGM Studios, California.

Released in May 1981, Psychedelic Jungle by The Cramps released on Illegal/IRS was The Cramps second studio release and for the first time was produced by the band themselves with quite surprising results. As a piece of work it is a lot more controlled than Gravest Hits and Songs The Lord Taught Us, overall creating a more rounded and sinister feel than heard previously. There is still no bass to be found, the album remains a mix of covers and originals, the vocals remain glorious and the fledgling dual guitar partnership of Ivy and Powers does not show any signs of faltering in its infancy, but there is most definitely an air of maturity creeping ever so slightly into The Cramps style here.

The album begins with a cover of a little garage gem known in collector circles; the original version of Greenfuz is a crackly primitive sounding marvel recorded in the middle of the night in a roadside café in Texas back in 67 by Randy Alvey. Chosen on Psychedelic Jungle as the opener, its use is quite the statement by The Cramps, there is not much difference between the two versions other than the fact it is properly recorded, once again it demonstrates one of my favourite things about The Cramps, their obvious love and passion for resurrecting those lost treasures from America’s recent history and encouraging the listener to find out more.



The next song on this album is just fabulous, like Human Fly on Gravest Hits and Rock on The Moon on Songs The Lord Taught Us; Goo Goo Muck on Psychedelic Jungle is a song where all the elements of The Cramps come together to create something quite glorious, hats off to all involved seriously. Although this song is a cover, the whole vibe of the song is truly Cramps, especially Lux Interior’s noise rampage at the end of the song. The Rockabilly vibe certainly continues with Rockin’ Bones and Voodoo Idol, and you can hear where the term "Psychobilly" comes from when describing the sound of The Cramps especially with this album.



But that Psychobilly sound on this second studio album is a lot more dark and sinister than on any Cramps release earlier, no more so than on Don’t Eat Stuff Off The Sidewalk and Can’t Find My Mind, track numbers 8 and 9 respectively, and on Track 12, Under The Wire. For me though the highlight of the whole album comes at the end with The Cramps version of Green Door, which is the first time The Cramps sound almost sweet, well almost.



With this second studio album, The Cramps took control of the sound and produced something a lot more controlled and mature, maybe this album could have been a lot more loose and chaotic, but I think ultimately that would have resulted in the album losing its sinister appeal, an appeal which is clearly something quite special with Psychedelic Jungle.
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Old 06-29-2009, 10:18 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Very nice reviews, i'm ashamed to say i own nothing by The Cramps but it's about time I did!
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Old 06-29-2009, 10:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Really well constructed thread, very informative and easy to read, I like the band, sounds like that obscure band that plays the cool song in the background of a great scene in a movie.
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Old 06-30-2009, 05:21 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I've always liked the Cramps version of Green Door. There's an underlying creepiness and perversity to the song which is probably why the Cramps liked it.

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Old 07-10-2009, 10:28 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The Cramps - Smell of Female
(1983)



Tracks

1 Thee Most Exhalted Potentate of Love 3:03
2 You Got Good Taste 3:26
3 Call of the Wighat 3:47
4 Faster Pussycat 2:47
5 I Ain't Nuthin' But a Gorehound 3:16
6 Psychotic Reaction 3:54
7 Beautiful Gardens 3:07
8 She Said 5:18
9 Surfin' Dead 4:12

After Psychedelic Jungle, The Cramps world began to get invaded by the bitterness of royalties and all that rights for music stuff, the dispute between the band and Record Label IRS were destined to end in court. Because of such circumstances, not a lot happened for Cramp fans in 1982. This pause in material thankfully didn’t last too long though. In February 1983, The Cramps took their instruments to The Peppermint Lounge in New York City; they also took some recording equipment and invited a crowd.

Smell of Female was the bands first live album, originally six songs long it was the first outing for the band on Big Beat Records, and it successfully filled the void left from the troubling times of 1982. The album begins with a couple of screams from some excitable girls (or men, with tight trousers on), even in these first few seconds of listening you can feel the anticipation in the audience building. After a short introduction from the compare, who of course is ushered in with a gong, The Cramps burst into a new original song, Thee Most Exhalted Potentate of Love, its like the band have never been away!



The second song on the album is probably the best song on the record, it begins with a dedication from Lux Interior; “This one’s dedicated to all you Gucci bag carriers out there….. Its called you’ve got gooooood taste!” yes Good Taste is a stunning live number, thumping and heavy in a very Cramps way, splendid drums from Knox, gorgeous fuzz from Powers and an addictive riff from Ivy. The song also has a risk element to it which Interior really does revel in.

Track four is however very un-Cramp like, a cover of Faster Pussycat, Lux Interior actually sings this song in sections which makes me feel slightly uneasy somewhat, after a couple of listens though, it begins to dawn on you the actual gloriousness of this song and the drama of it all, something which The Cramps translate beautifully.



Originally this live album was six tracks long back on it’s initial release in ’83. It goes without saying that the originally closer to Smell of Female was something rather special. Back in 1966, a band from San Jose released a song which would go down in collector circles as quite possibly the most invigorating garage song ever recorded; I am of course referring to Psychotic Reaction by Count Five. In 1983, it was covered live by The Cramps; to say they have captured the true essence of the original would be underplaying The Cramps’ achievement here, its absolutely tremendous stuff.

Version not from album but gives you an idea


Now reissued, Smell of Female by The Cramps, now stretches to nine songs, these include a live version of Beautiful Gardens as well as the brilliant and it must be said electric She Said. Hearing the true nature of The Cramps live for the first time is something to behold. From that stage in The Peppermint Lounge, you can really hear the appeal of the band and why they won so many plaudits for their live performances. Lets put it this way, if you’ve come this far with your Cramps collection, you wont be disappointed with Smell of Female.
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Old 09-03-2009, 01:51 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The Cramps - A Date With Elvis
(1986)



Tracks

1 How Far Can Too Far Go? 4:10
2 The Hot Pearl Snatch 3:19
3 People Ain't No Good 3:45
4 What's Inside a Girl? 3:21
5 Can Your Pussy Do the Dog? 3:21
6 Kizmiaz 3:01
7 Cornfed Dames 5:26
8 Chicken 1:40
9 (Hot Pool Of) Womanneed 3:09
10 Aloha from Hell 2:35
11 It's Just That Song 2:35



After well over four years of personnel changes and battles with the old record label, The Cramps were finally in the right place to make that long awaited comeback album. It’s a good job I was only 2 years old at the time they made it back into the studio, I don’t think I could have coped with the anticipation of it all. The personnel on this album is really the story, no longer a four piece Poison Ivy plays both lead and bass on this album following the departure of Kid Congo Powers back in 1983. But with the ever-present Nick Knox on drums and of course the marvellous Lux Interior on vocals, this album is far from a papering over the cracks exercise.

A Date With Elvis, released on Big Beat in 1986 after being recorded in 1985, was undoubtedly more of the same but after four years, it is no doubt a welcome edition to The Cramps catalogue and is entirely penned by Interior and Ivy, making this the first Cramps album to contain all original material, it should also be said, as well as laying down bass and some filthy fuzz filled guitar, Poison Ivy also Produced this record. The album begins with a noise more akin to the opener of I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night by The Electric Prunes from 1967; it soon beds in mind and returns to more Cramp like surroundings, How Far Can Too Far Go is what you’d expect.



The final bar of the opener merges nicely into the second track, the beautifully titled The Hot Pearl Snatch; again this is classic Cramps, thumping, filled with innuendo and musically filthy, the same can be said for the song What’s Inside a Girl and of course Can Your Pussy Do The Dog, for some reason when I hear Lux Interior sing these songs it sounds almost sweet and innocent. Track three; People Aint No Good starts with a school chorus of all things, a chorus that you can just about hear under the guitar and pounding drums if you listen close enough, all enhancing the normally retro sound of the band, marvellous!



Speaking of which, a first of first happens on track six, Kizmiaz, features the vocals of Poison Ivy, out of tune this may be, it reminds me of 1960’s all girl group The Shaggs, they were pretty dreadful, but this song aint too bad after a couple of listens, almost lovely after three listens, this song in particular is a departure for The Cramps.



Normal service is resumed for the final few tracks of this album, my favourite song Cornfed Dames, which sounds like a bastardised version of Not Fade Away, the beating yet sinister (Hot Pool of) Womanneed is glorious, and the album finishes well too, with the slow ballad of Its Just That Song, sang by Lux Interior like a slightly inebriated Elvis Presley, I ask you dear reader.....would you have it any other way? Its good to have you back!
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