The Cramps

Live at Napa State Mental Hospital

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Here's one for the books: everyone's favorite psychobillies, the Cramps, playing a free gig before an enthusiastic audience in a mental hospital (well, admittedly, it's hard to account for the enthusiasm of the catatonics). This marvelous curio from the rock & roll vaults was recorded with a hand-held camera in black and white in June of 1978. The picture and sound quality aren't MTV-ready but it matters not: this is gripping, good-time stuff. Band and patients mingle -- and share the mic -- as the New York cult rockers rip through a typically frenetic eight-song set. Frontman Lux Interior seems perfectly comfortable -- dare one say at home? -- howling his campy lyrics for his captive audience. For all its surreal strangeness, it's rare to find concert footage of any stripe where everybody's having such a great -- and unpretentious -- time. And when Lux sings "My daddy drives a UFO" in the song "Mystery Plane," well, it's just too perfect. The whole thing is a gorgeous gonzo experience and tasty morsel of rock history. From the day the lunatics took over the asylum and rocked it to its foundations.

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