The Cramps

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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.

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