The Cramps became one of the most influential bands of the eighties by forcing rockabilly into the sack with punk at gunpoint. The Cramps’ mastered their leg shimmying, fanny wiggling take on punk by steeping themselves in some of the wildest records of the fifties, and last year, Righteous Records gathered 60 of those singles onto a comp called The Incredibly Strange Music Box: 60 Songs from The Cramps’ Crazy Collection. A year later, Righteous is dumping 61 staggering additions to that set onto another double-disc set.
Culled from vinyl Lux Interior spun as a DJ or shared in his private collection with bandmate/soulmate Poison Ivy, 61 Classics from The Cramps’ Crazy Collection is a blitzkrieg of gonzo rockabilly, brain-damaged lounge, daffy doo-wop, cuckoo country and western, satanic surf, and quite a bit of stuff that we shall only call uncategorizable.
Driving tracks in the Loud, Fast, and Out of Control bag grounds the collection, and there are some fabulous numbers by Johnny Burnette, Ron Haydock, Ronnie Dawson, and others for the D.A. set. But it’s the ones that really go off the rails that make 61 Classics earn its keep. Stan Freberg’s asinine silliness “John and Marsha” is just the tip of this trip. Dig Andre Williams begging for a helping of biscuits the way most rockers beg for lovin’ on “Pass the Biscuits Please”. Marvel at Moses Longpiece cheesily crooning about how his girlfriend recently had an unfortunate encounter with a steamroller on “Slide Her Under the Door”, or The Clovers indulging in unmentionable a cappella on “Rotten Cocksuckers Ball”. Jackie and the Starlites’ “Valerie” is as ramshackle as the customarily slick doo-wop gets, while Joe Clay tries to turn “What you said, Cabbage Head” into the next “See you later, Alligator” on “Did You Mean Jellybean”. By the time we hit The 5 Jones Boys’ bizarre “Mr. Ghost Goes to Town” (a track apparently from the 1920s…thorough annotation is not a strength of this CD) toward the end of Disc Two, 61 Classics has parked its jalopy in Flip City for good. Perhaps the wildest thing of all is hearing totally straight stuff like The Flamingos’ “I Only Have Eyes for You” and The Fleetwoods’ “Unchained Melody” in this ga-ga context. Crazy, man, crazy.