I first caught the Cramps on a humid day in the summer of 1992. It was bizarre, unconventional, amazing and above all else, eye-opening. In the span of their set I saw the band mix up Buddy Holly, Johnny Thunders, Link Wray and the Ramones; turn it on its head and spin it into some kind of monstrous goo. I was 16 and there was no turning back — it just worked for me. This strange beast—an unholy amalgamation of surf-rock, voodoo, latex, B-movie comic book horror, stilettos, rockabilly, garage and punk—would continue to weave in and out of my listening habits, and psyche, for the next fifteen-plus years.
I’ve been on another Cramps kick of late (the first since Lux Interior’s 2009 passing) and was just telling a friend about the excellent, fan-curated, compilation series: Lux And Ivy’s Favorites. While in the process of uploading the set for him I came across the multiple volume compilation, in its entirety, hosted over at WFMU. Lovingly put together by a Cramps fan, the bootleg series, now at 11 volumes, gathers up tracks that the band either covered, mentioned in interviews, spun during guest DJ sets, or played over the PA to audiences before Cramps shows. The tracks themselves span multiple genres, and eras, ranging from doo-wop, rockabilly, surf rock, r&b, trash rock, and adverts to soul, British invasion, outsider art to the generally unclassifiable. Even if you know nothing about the Cramps, the series is an altogether excellent alternate education in 20th century pop music (and beyond). Find Lux And Ivy’s Favorites, Vol. 1-11 HERE.
If you’re into this kind of thing, might I also recommend the compilations: Born Bad Vol 1-6, Songs The Cramps Taught Us, Radio Cramps The Purple Knif, Incredibly Strange Music Vol 1 & 2, Mad Daddy, and the Norton Records series Mad Mike Monsters Vol 1-3. Be forwarned though, delving into this stuff is a serious black hole with seemingly no end in sight. Great, no, amazing really, for the obsessed, but bad on your wallet/time/etc. Of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Elsewhere: The following Cramps interview, conducted by Rex Doane during his Fool’s Paradise show, is described as “essential for truly understanding the mythos of The Cramps. Yes, The Cramps made amazing music, and amazing contributions to the history of music, but to really get a good idea of where they are coming from, is to listen to the music that inspired them.” (via) It’s true, this is a hell of an interview on a great show, by a DJ who really knows his shit. Stay sick, people… AD
MP3: Fool’s Paradise Interview with Lux & Ivy