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The Cramps 

Fiends of Dope Island (Vengeance)

It's easy to forget that not only did the Cramps create an entire enduring rock genre (psychobilly), but by embracing the glory of all things sleazy, beginning in the late '70s, they cranked the ignition on the entire retro aesthetic that permeates pop culture to this day. Perhaps all this is so easy to forget because the Cramps continue to release redundant retakes of their original groundbreaking sound. But then again, the Cramps are about nothing if not garish overkill.

And they still seem damn crazy. There's a mess of loud fuzz guitar and some theremin-tinged spine-tingling here ("Hang Up," "Mojo Man From Mars") that was missing from the band's last couple of releases. Lux Interior can't really do the warbly larynx as much, but he's supplanted that with a gnarly growl. And he can still pencil up some fractured yuks ("Elvis Fucking Christ," "Dr. Fucker M.D.," "She's Got Balls"). A couple of tunes are too long, but after a five-year hiatus spent reclaiming the rights to their entire catalog and reissuing it on their own Vengeance imprint, maybe they figured they should wail away for the faithful. And in the Cramps' decadent otherworld, more is always better.

More by Eric Davidson


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