Themes From Great Cities

It might have come to your attention that I'm not a regular poster of love and understanding, which you will just have to get used to. I will however, have bursts of creativity where I move completely randomly from post to post with no rhyme or reason. I have recently posted a few singles (7 & 12”) and the odd bootleg which have been received very well by all who visit. More of the same will continue as you, dear readers, seem to be enjoying them.

Some of the rips are my own, but many more are from other blogs and I’m just sharing the wealth. If other bloggers out there wish to share the rips from my posts, please as I do, host them yourself. To combat this, the FLAC files that are over 6 months old will be replaced with MP3 files.

Finally I am happy to re-up old posts where the link has expired. Please comment in the relevant posts comments box.


Gravest Hits

Few bands actually spawn entire genres of music but The Cramps did that and their sound spawned what is now referred to as psychobilly. They mixed punk rock, surf, rockabilly, and garage rock to create a sound unlike anything else at the time. On top of that, the band’s performances were a thing of legend with enigmatic frontman, Lux Interior, writhing around the stage while his wife, Poison Ivy, hypnotized the audience with her guitar work. They were quite a spectacle both visually and audibly.
The Cramps put out two singles on their own label, Vengeance Records, before signing to IRS Records, who compiled them on a 12″ EP titled Gravest Hits. This just so happened to be the first Cramps record I bought and I fell in love with it.

This first release by the Cramps shows the group laying out many of the aspects of their curious style in rudimentary fashion. Raw, slashing guitar playing derived mostly from rockabilly and somewhat from psychedelic and 1960s garage pop (the group would have no bass player until the mid-'80s) and primitive drumming provide the platform for Lux Interior's eccentric singing, which is best described as a hyper-crazed, reverb-drenched, exhibitionist rockabilly style complete with groaning, shouting, growling, and hiccuping effects. The only song written by the band here is "Human Fly," a skulking mid-tempo fuzz-guitar number with monster movie lyrics; the line "I got 96 tears/And 96 eyes" is a sly reference to the ? and the Mysterians garage band hit. The other selections are covers of classic 1950s and 1960s songs; these include a bizarre version of the Ricky Nelson crooning hit "Lonesome Town" that peppers the musical texture with stray guitar interjections, and a rip-snorting version of the Trashmen song "Surfin' Bird" that ends with a long, noisy improvisation section of doubtful tonal focus. The cavernous sound quality here lends a certain bleak feel to the music, but distortions on the vocal in "Human Fly" and drums on "Lonesome Town" merely sound poor. This unpolished but effective release is worth hearing.

This is the first of a selection of mini albums or 12” EP’s that I’m posting over the next week or so. Some have been expanded into mini albums with a ton of bonus tracks, and for what it’s worth work really well. Others like the Cramps will stand alone in all their magnificent glory.

Ripped from a digital source to MP3 @ 320kbps

The Cramps; Gravest Hits 12”

1.     Human Fly
2.     The Way I Walk
3.     Domino
4.     Surfin’ Bird
5.     Lonesome Town


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