I had an idea earlier today to listen to every studio album by The Cramps and write about them. I’ve done this with several bands in the past, and it’s only right that I do this for the most important band of all time- The Cramps. An iconic, timeless and just brilliant band. What they did for music and us weirdos is priceless. Let’s go back to 1980.
Although their first release was the EP, Gravest Hits in 1979 The Cramps released their first full length LP in 1980. Songs the Lord Taught Us consists of 13 brain shattering, life changing, and limb flailing songs. These songs were made to creep out anyone who hear Lux’s voice. His voice is Halloween all over. It’s creepy, utterly spooky and something you cannot tear yourself away from. Although they made music that some may have turned their noses up at, it is their live performances that probably had the raw shock value. When you listen to The Cramps for the first time, it stays with you.
The Cramps are that kind of band who within the first listen, the first note make you instantly realise that they are going to rule your mind. Their music will be something you constantly turn to. Ivy and Lux were the most perfect couple. Everything they did was a reflection of them, and although I never a show- we have dodgy YouTube recordings that somewhat capture the atmosphere slightly. Ivy had this demeanour on stage that made you idolise her. Lux was all kinds of outrageous, and that is why we adore them so. Songs The Lord Taught Us was an in depth look into the journey that The Cramps would take their fans on.
One thing I’ve realised from being a massive fan of the band is that there is no such thing as casually listening to them. There is no such thing as just listening to a few songs and being content with that. Far from it. Songs The Lord Taught Us and the rest of their records are addictive. You play one- you end up spending your day listening to all of them. And probably more than once too.
There are a couple of covers on the record, and the one that obviously stands out is Fever. Lux manages to really take this song somewhere else. Fever has been covered by so many, and the most notable is probably Peggy Lee’s version. Her version is lustful and seductive. The Cramps take the lust and the seductive tones, and turn it into something gloriously smutty. Hey, if you’re going to cover a song- you might as well do whatever you want to it. The Cramps created something truly remarkable with their first record, and this went on with everything they did. Nothing they did could be repeated. A band that were consistently great and managed to keep their fans hooked for decades with all they did. There’s no denying at all just how influential they were and still are. Songs The Lord Taught Us was just a small taste of what was to come.
Brian and Ivy made their guitars sound like weapons, Nick’s drumming was a glorious thump to the head and Lux just stole you away. If we were going to talk about the greatest frontman of all time, I’d probably say that Lux was up there. The way he moved, the way he managed to make the universe feel as if it was quaking with his voice. He just had something about him. They all did, and for it to come across so prominently on their first full length record is nothing short of fascinating and straight up incredible.
What I love about this record is that you can imagine bands you love listening to this, and wanting to start a band. It’s got something about it that just drives you on. It’s got something about it that leaves you in awe of how fantastic this debut (full length) record is.
Their songs are wonderfully smutty, filthy and humorous. I guess the Lord taught them well.