"I was a teenage werewolf/Braces on my fangs", Lux Interior growls on the Cramps' first album.Not a bad joke, and even if they haven't thought of another one, the Cramps can still clout your funnybone hard enough to coax out a few more primeval laughs if you're in the mood.Though they got their start in the primordial soup of CBGB in the late '70s, the Cramps always had less in common with punks or new wavers than with kitch compilers like the Chesterfield Kings' Greg Prevost or the Psychotronic Encyclopedia's Michael Weldon.Interior's slavering undead Elvis and guitarit/producer/coconspirator/albumcover cheescake "Poison" Ivy Rorschach's backwoods riffs grew a lurching monster from all the the stands of trash DNA;late-night TV, obscure novelty records, drunken rockabilly, garage punk, Vegas bump'n'grind.They anticipated the '80s romp through the junk archives and the '90s EC comics revival, proving that their bad taste was peerless-even if they did somehow miss the boat on Ed Wood."Songs the Lord Taught Us" is essentially a '50s horror comic set to a trebly buzz "one-half hillbilly and one-half punk," with instant classics like "TV Set" and "What's Behind the Mask" stomping sex-and-death taboos with ghoulish aplomb, and "Garbageman" defining the Cramps' trash aesthetic once and for all.Meanwhile, lines like "They write 'Born To Lose'/On zombie rest-room walls" convey a timeless B-movie lesson: monsters and teenagers really want the same things in life.


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