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The Cramps’ Lux Interior, RIP February 4, 2009

Posted by sjroby in Music.
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Psychedelic Jungle/Gravest Hits

The Cramps: Psychedelic Jungle/Gravest Hits

Various sources are reporting that Lux Interior, frontman of the Cramps, has died. If you’ve ever had much of an interest in rockabilly, punk, or goth, chances are you’ve heard the Cramps (or someone influenced by them).

The Cramps started getting people’s attention in the early days of the punk scene, but they were never exactly punk. Instead, they created a blend of rockabilly, punk, and garage rock that owed a lot to 1950s trash culture, horror movies, and generally sleaziness. They were, in short, a lot of fun, and they came close to getting the mainstream’s attention occasionally (particularly with their classic “Bikini Girls With Machine Guns” video).

I only ever had one album of theirs, the CD combining the 1981 album Psychedelic Jungle and the 1979 Gravest Hits EP. It’s swampy and sludgy, many of the songs dimly recognizeable as covers of ’50s rock’n’roll songs, with echoed vocals, distorted guitars, pounding drums, and no bass guitar. It’s what’s playing at the zombies’ sock hop.

I never got around to buying more of their music. Like certain other great bands, like the Ramones or the Rolling Stones, they didn’t take long to find what they were good at and they kept on doing it, so you didn’t really need to get everything. But some of their stuff is on eMusic, so tonight I’m buying their near-breakthrough album Stay Sick!, the one with “Bikini Girls With Machine Guns” and “Creature From the Black Leather Lagoon.” It’s just too bad it took Lux Interior’s death to remind me to add this album to my collection.

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