Monday, November 8, 2010

The Cramps - "The Way I Walk" - Vengence, 1978

I thought I'd mix it up this week with something more current (only 30 years old!).  This is The Cramps' very first release, b/w "Surfin Bird".  In my eyes that makes it a pretty epic 45, I just wish mine was in better shape!
What can be said about the Cramps that hasn't already been said? Some record collector art geek from the Midwest picked up a fellow record-nerd hitchhiker in California sometime in 1972 - and those two went on to become Lux Interior and Poison Ivy, the core of The Cramps.

Their fusion of Garage, Rockabilly and Punk sounds took NYC by storm and inspired too many musicians to count.   The Cramps are REQUIRED listening, people.

My own personal Cramps experience is pretty limited. I remember seeing a "punk" in the goofy 80's movie "Back To The Beach" wearing a "Bad Music for Bad People" t-shirt and I thought "this sounds like music I should check out". Luckily, my uncle Marcos and my cousin Maria were huge Cramps fans and were happy to sort out a few tunes.  They actually took me to my only Cramps show: March 7, 1991 with the Reverend Horton Heat at Chicago's Riviera Theatre.  I had just turned 15 and I didn't really know what to expect, I just knew these guys had a really crazy and weird rocking vibe.  I think the "wildest" shirt I had was a very hippy tunic kinda thing I got in Jr. High for a costume so I wore that.  Obviously I was pretty clueless and probably looked like a huge asshole.  But the show was amazing, of course.  It was defintely a turning point in the creation of the music-geek degenerate you see before you today.
Back to the song.  If you're a hardcore Cramps fan or record nerd, then you're aware that many of The Cramps best songs were either covers of older tunes or borrowed liberally from them.  "The Way I Walk" is a great example.

The original is a belter of a tune from Detroit-rocker Jack Scott released in 1959. Check out the original in this YouTube clip:

Note the difference between the Scott and Cramps versions. The Cramps take the original version, strip it to its raw rock essence, then drag it through a dirty alley and soak it with booze until it's a lean, mean, attitute machine.  Crampsified!
I strongly feel that The Cramps' deep knowledge of great old music is what enabled them to make great new music.  That's one of my main motivators in DJing these days - trying to educate folks on gems from the past so they can make the gems of tomorrow! It makes me crazy when I hear new music sampling other music that was only produced only a few years prior. Really, is that as far back as most these days are willing to look for inspiration?
As far as the "Venegence" label, I believe this was an imprint started by The Cramps for releasing their own material.  This first issue was cheekily numbered "666".  There were a few more issues on this label before it disappeared, but I believe it was resurrected later for some reissues and one new album.
And finally, the clip!

No comments:

Post a Comment