FAREWELL WILD-EYED MICROPHONE GOBBLER
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.
"Rock On The Moon"
"I Was a Teenage Werewolf"
"Sunglasses After Dark"
"The Mad Daddy"
"What's Behind the Mask?"
"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.