Sun Spin: The Cramps


The sad news of Lux Interior's death due to an existing heart condition this past Wednesday, February 4th, signaled the passing of one of garage rock's true giants. As one half of the husband-wife core of The Cramps with guitarist Poison Ivy, Lux had helped keep rock n' roll dirty and playful since 1976. Their albums are jagged, inspired kitsch that's funnier and more accomplished than initial inspection might suggest. Live, they were beatific hip shake, every wicked thing parents in the 1950s feared rock 'n' roll would lead to, eyeing the ducktail boys and low rent go-go girls at the lip of the stage with bad intent, while Lux performed spitty microphone fellatio and offered up more hump than a good porno. One always got the sense that they left a wet spot – probably lots of them – on any stage they destroyed. They called their music Psychobilly, and their followers, including Rev. Horton Heat, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and The A-Bones, are legion, all ready to give rockabilly a punk-y black eye while singing about flying saucers and spread-legged preacher's daughters.

Prompted by Interior's passing, we place Songs The Lord Taught Us in our weekly classic album spotlight. The Cramps' 1980 full-length debut is like driving a stock car while gulping down nitrous and gettin' a squeezer from the flag girl. It just felt naughty sliding the needle into their groove, but if it was wrong you didn't want to be right. Hedonism is appealing and The Cramps' brand especially so - all the trashy, ass-in-the-air stank one could desire combined with '50s horror movie monster snarls and a Pistols-esque sneer. As the Wall Street-Reagan decade kicked into gear, The Cramps arrived just in time to remind us how dangerous and preciously silly rock could be.

Produced by Big Star's Alex Chilton, Songs encapsulates the mad energy of early sock hops where – gasp – Negroes and Whities found damp communion in fraying guitars and jungle drums. It's not meant to be taken seriously but given the tone of the times it inevitably carried some of the same "up-yours" moxie of rock's originators. Never coy about their influences, The Cramps include some primo clues to their roots in the cover choices here: Billy Burnette's country thwacker "Tear It Up," The Sonics' blistering salute to poison pleasures "Strychnine" and Peggy Lee standard "Fever." Songs The Lord Taught Us is a massively enjoyable slab with some unexpected undertow. Throw it on and rage a little in Lux's honor while you still got the heat in your bones to do so.

Track Listing

Side One
"T.V. Set"
"Rock On The Moon"
"I Was a Teenage Werewolf"
"Sunglasses After Dark"
"The Mad Daddy"

Side Two
"Mystery Plane"
"Zombie Dance"
"What's Behind the Mask?"
"I'm Cramped"
"Tear It Up"

Here's "I Was A Teenage Werewolf" in 1980 with Lux in all his wriggling glory.

You'll want to get sweaty, right along with Lux, during this live assault on "Tear It Up."

There's the feeling of something big 'n' bad rolling down the tracks on "Sunglasses After Dark," offered here from a Paris concert in 1986.

[Published on: 2/8/09]

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1048 Sun 2/8/2009 10:25AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


hell yeah.

Cookie starstarstarstar Sun 2/8/2009 10:43AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

This dashes any hopes for seeing them at To-Hell-U-Ride in 2010.

RIP Lux!

O1Roggae Sun 2/8/2009 10:54AM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


at least they are not called the "Goblin Cocks"

HoodooVoodoo Sun 2/8/2009 11:06AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Is it true that Goblin Cock is headlining Telluride this year? ;) Goblin Cock is Rob Crow from Pinback.

TravlynnJoe Sun 2/8/2009 01:07PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Lux Interior was a "fearless frontman" who transformed every stage he stepped on into a place of passion, abandon, and true freedom. He is a "RARE ICON" who will be missed dearly.

oldfartatplay starstarstarstarstar Sun 2/8/2009 02:46PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


one half hillbilly and on half punk

futhepharmer starstarstarstarstar Sun 2/8/2009 03:51PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


one of my all time favorite t-shirts I had back in the eighties was a Cramps "smells like female" shirt. I used to love to wear it around on the bus all day, watching the looks on womens faces.

I know, it sounds kinda creepy now.

Cookie Sun 2/8/2009 05:50PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

2009 has been brutal for those of us that love punk. Ron and now Lux.

Hotchkiss Sun 2/8/2009 10:12PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i was wondering when jambase was going to report this. way to young. was lucky to see lux and the cramps live, he is a true showman.

funny story: the security guard at my high school, Richard,l was friends with Lux and Ivy (he did make up for them). My friend vandalized the school and Richard knew that i knew who it was. he tried to bribe me with a lunch with Ivy and Lux at their hollywood home.

I didn't rat out my friend, though i was pretty tempted.

hippiedaze Mon 2/9/2009 06:10AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

sad sad news, love all their albums, very unique and fun~ Love the song garbageman, R.I.P. Lux~

fishbassplayer starstarstarstar Mon 2/9/2009 12:48PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Well i'm a human fly

it's spelled F-L-Y

I say buzz,buzz,buzz,and it's just because

I'm a human fly and i don't know why

I got ninety six tears in my ninety six eyes

nuke_ticketbastard Mon 2/9/2009 02:30PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

yeah heard about htis a few days ago , what a bummer....

i was just saying to my girl how it would be cool to catch them if they are still touring at all.

luckily i did get to see them back in the late 80s

when the sun goes down and the moon comes up

i turn into a teenage goo-goo muck