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The songs the Lord has been teaching us.
This, in short, the seed that will germinate a few years later until it turns into that splendid, sick and iridescent flower of pure rock'n'roll that will be the cramps. First, however, there are hard years lived by tools that are often not really legal in a tiny studio where the two have accumulated, in addition to bizarre erotic toys, movie posters on the walls, various objects of doubt, and mountains of 45 rounds of the fifties: sacred relics of a tradition to which they will implicitly declare themselves new priests, updated just so that they don't go through nostalgic times that run, full of punk attitude and proto-Goth sensitivity.
They already have the name: The Cramps, which means "cramps", "spasms", "contractions", a term also used in American menstrual aches. In the following twelve months there will be no more than the name, for Akron found no accomplices similar to her concept of primitive, tribal and undemanding intellectual rock'n'roll.
Cramps stop being a hypothesis a few weeks after they moved to the Big Apple, when Lux and Ivy make friends with an obscure and unrecommended salesman from a record store called Greg Beckerleg who is renamed Bryan Gregory. When he comes to the first test session and takes a guitar out of the cabinet instead of a bass, the sudden disappointment of the couple is immediately replaced by a decisive "Ok, fuck the bass, we play with two guitars".
Gregory's sister sits behind the skins and begins to strike a threatening, psychotic fuss in four stages. Gregory works in a store. The basement's where the rehearsal takes place. Mainly covers and sketches (few) of original tracks. It will be one of the basic characteristics of Cramps, the repechage of occult rock'n'roll pearls of the fifties.
The summer/autumn recordings of 1976 can be heard on How To Make A Monster, a double CD of rarities, demos and two complete concerts released on Vengeance Records in 2004. It is the "official" debut and the Cramps, which despite their technical approach are welcomed by a remarkable success, will despite their inexperience and the inevitable naivety of chance become a fixed presence of the venue and the scene revolving around it.
Cramps begin to build a reputation in the New York underground, supported by the entry of a new drummer to replace the impeccable Linna: this time it's a real drummer who responds to the name Nick Knox, former Electric Ales.
The elementary, abrasive, dirty and stabbing sounds are entering the heart of the punk scene. On stage, Lux shows himself to be a rotten psychopath, ivy, beautiful and provocative, playing the only three notes he has learned through a Dan Armostrong of Plexiglas, Gregory is the macabre push player Luciferino, blond tuft falling on one side and cigarette between his teeth peeling his ears by rubbing a six-string polka dot.
Everything is held together with great effort by Knox, who shamefacingly beats a tribal backbeat: listening to them live is like immersing yourself in the original broth of rock'n'roll. On the A-side an accordingly "barbarized" artwork of "Surfin' Bird", Trashmen's Song from 1964; on the B-side another artwork, "The Way I Walk" by Jack Scott.
"The first original track released by Cramps, "Human Fly" is a little jewel of psychopathic skirt, where Gregory's guitar serves as the background for the (usual) two notes of Ivy's played guitar and Lux's annoying bass guitar which is then amplified by Chilton during mixing.
The Sul Latin B is a Roy Orbinson Domino covers. It' s the end of 1978, and under the nose of the Cramps is a record contract, which they - oh they - sign without hesitation. Great Britain, which has always been attentive and open to novelties, is organising the Cramps for two promotional minitours at the beginning of 1979, the first as the opening act of the police force, the second as the main attraction.
I. R. S. Gravest released Hits in June, an EP with the four tracks already released on the previous singles, with a front of " Lonesome Town ", a song written by Baker Knight and brought to success in 1958 by Ricky Nelson. This is probably the first sound document of this subgenre called ''Psychobilly'', a fusion of ''Psychosis'' and ''Rockabilly'', and it will be perfectly outlined on the band's debut album, Songs The Lord Teaught Us.
At that time there was a lot of fire, the sound mixture consisted mainly of garages and rocksabilly, filtered by a close-meshed punk screen, in order not to let the rough antagonism typical for the time pass by: The world of the cramps was a world in itself, sometimes even comics, but always free of any form of political criticism or social protest.
who are anxious to follow reefs and tremors plundered by Link Wray and the like, the other, Gregory's, who tends to a "white" noise, son of an incestuous copulation between Velvet and Stooges - produces tremendous sound emissions, sometimes even unpublished; Miraculously (File Under Sacred Music can be read on the back....) cramps seem to be immune to the revivalist evil eye, perhaps also thanks to the energetic rejection of any intellectual or even hagiographic ambition.
Whether they play covers or original tracks (did you notice that I didn't distinguish between them?), it doesn't matter: when they play a song, the cramps take it over as if no one had ever played it ("Strychnine" doesn't sound like the sonics that make a cramp).
Although it is undeniable that their most suitable format is the single (or at most the EP), Songs The Lord Teaught Us remains a cornerstone, a plot of 20th century popular soundtrack. The following psychedelic jungle from 1981 (with the ex-gun club Kid Congo Powers as a replacement for a defective Bryan Gregory, who had literally "frozen" his brain in the meantime) is of lesser stature.
Smoother and more accessible, also from a formal point of view, it shows signs of "moderation" of madness and at the same time exhales sour aromas: sometimes slowed down, sometimes swampy, catatonic, low-noise there is the appearance of order and luxury the appearance of a singer. From now on, the story becomes very complicated, mainly because of endless legal disputes with the label that will prevent the group from releasing anything until 1985 (they will make ends meet thanks to the concerts) when it is handed over to the press A Date With Elvis, perhaps Cramps' last important record; all subsequent publications will be pale copies (if not unintentional and grotesque car parodies) of the good old days.
For those who want to own the essential Crampsian: fundamental, in addition to the three albums mentioned, the collection ...Off The Bone (1983), which contains all the singles of the Golden Age and the Live-Smell Of Women with songs recorded at the Peppermint Lounge on February 25 and 26, 1983.