THE CRAMPS JUKEBOX (2CD)
Chrome Dreams (CDCD5038 )
The Versatones: Bila, The Shades: Strollin' After Dark, Paul Peek: Olds Mo Williams, Jack Scott: The Way I Walk, The Flamingoes: I Only Have Eyes For You, The Riptides: Machine Gun, The Playboys: Jungle Fever, Ray Harris: Come On Little Mama, Jimmy Heap: Gismo, Don Covay: Switchin' In The Kitchen, Ronnie Dawson: Rockin' Bones, Jan & Arnie: Jennie Lee, Johnny Kidd & The Pirates: Shakin' All Over, The Strangers: Caterpillar Crawl, Caps: Red Headed Flea, The Crescents: Pink Dominos, Ron Thompson: Switchblade, The Fleetwoods: Unchained Melody, Ersel Hickey: Hangin' Around, Ivan: Real Wild Child, Sheriff & The Ravels: Shombolar, The Instrumentals: Chop Suey Rock, Roland Janes: Guitarville, Jimmy Lloyd: Rocket In My Pocket, Kenny Owen: I Got The Bug, Portuguese Joe: Teenage Riot, Joe Clay: Did You Mean Jelly Bean, Gene Maltais: Crazy Baby, Glenn Glen: Everybody's Movin'. Plus a full CD of radio interviews with Lux Interior and Poison Ivy.
If you loved last year's compilation: Songs The Cramps Taught Us on Righteous (PSALM2320) you'll definitely need this 30 track selection from Lux Interior and Poison Ivy's collection of rare records that features way out R&B, rockabilly and general vocal group craziness. In the interviews on disc two, you hear Lux and Ivy talking about their strong affection for anything out of the ordinary, especially rockin' music on 45s and 78s and this CD contains a small sample of the kind of stuff they listened to and absorbed into their own music.
There's music here to make you drool. I'd kill to own the originals of songs like The Playboys instrumental Jungle Fever which is just one minute eight seconds of shuddering drums and insistent guitar reminiscent of the soundtrack to some 50s cop show. The Riptides Machine Gun starts shredding from the first second with crazed guitar and manic sax supported by a beat that must have reduced the drummer to a pool of sweat by the time the session ended.
The Crescents blockbusting instrumental Pink Dominoes opens with big fat notes banged out by the guitarist who follows up with some clanging boogaloo rhythms that allow the bass player to crank in with a flurry of powerhouse notes while the drummer puts in a metronomic performance. Another cracker that at two minutes is just too short. Jimmie Heap's Gismo blows in with a Suzie Q beat then a couple of bars of straight R&B on sax before taking on a demented almost ska-like rhythm that stops short for a neat guitar solo. Listen out for the sax on Switchin In The Kitchen where a young Don Covay bawls out the lyrics in a style somewhere between Little Richard and Esquirita - he really rocks out on this one. Despite a backing that is pure 50s surf music with loads of hand clapping, swinging drums and bright clanging guitar work, Ivan's low-key, nerdy vocals turn his version of Real Wild Child into something slightly sinister. I bet the girls kept well clear of him after hearing this creepy but fascinating record.
Right in the middle of the general mayhem contained on this CD there comes a divine version of Unchained Melody by The Fleetwoods. The two girls deliver a dreamy spot of a cappella singing that is good enough to make this track one of my favourites of the year! The Enchanters ease back toward rock'n'roll with their easy rolling Café Bohemian - an instrumental that comes complete with lush backing vocals, lotsa bongos and trumpets. The Beach Boys loved the A-side of Ersel Hickey's Bluebirds Over the Mountain but The Cramps found the B-side Hangin' Around much more palatable. This one's a slow rockin' blues with a heavy backbeat that has Ersel singing like a king making me think that it would have been perfect on the soundtrack to American Graffiti.
Hardcore Cramps fans will be pleased to see the inclusion of some of the originals they covered on their albums: Jack Scott's The Way I Walk - overhauled for Gravest Hits, Sheriff & The Ravels boppin' Sholombalar - reconstructed on the rare Blues Fix EP and The Instrumentals Chop Suey Rock - the template for Can Your Pussy Do the Dog. And surely The Shades Strollin' After Dark inspired I Was A Teenage Werewolf...
Lux and Ivy sure knew quality when they heard it and I for one, can't wait for the next in the series of these superior compilations.
Review Date: August 2010