Friday, February 13, 2009

Songs The Cramps Taught Us: Psychedelic Jungle

Well when I die don't you burry me at all, Just nail my bones up on the wall, Beneath these bones let these words be seen, "This is the bloody gears of a boppin' machine" Roll on...

I've spent a lot of time the past couple weeks thinking about what made The Cramps so great. Perhaps this should be an easy question to answer. I could just say "it's the music" and move on. But I think there's more to it than that.

Part of what makes The Cramps' music so powerful is the way in which Lux and Ivy were able to create a kind of alternative universe that their fans could inhabit. And the world they created is more tangible, more real, in part because it has been stitched together--like some beautiful Frankenstein monster--from things that are real (twisted rockabilly, garage punk, budget horror films, etc.).

The music The Cramps covered is an important part of their aesthetic. With their choice of covers, it was as if Lux and Ivy were pointing us toward a secret history of rock'n'roll. It was a history in which the music never became homogenized and corporatized, a history where rock'n'roll remained the music of outsiders, freaks and deviants. The Cramps were not alone in this attempt to reclaim rock'n'roll from the normals ("Gabba gabba we accept you, we accept you, one of us"), but they brought a powerful sense of history to the project.

It's a fight Lux kept up till his last breath, and for that I salute him. Rock on.

1 comment:

Peter Hennig said...

The Groupies "Primitive" is one of the absolute greatest tracks ever committed to wax.