Cramps – File Under Sacred Music: Early Singles 1978-1981

January 01, 1970



Leave it to the crate-digging and trash-loving archivists at Spain’s Munster
label to dig up a Cramps box. File Under Sacred Music: Early Singles
is a limited edition trove of ten 7″ers – also released as
a single CD – featuring  six replica sleeves and four new sleeves
especially designed for the edition, plus a booklet of photos and memorabilia.
(See the upcoming print issue of BLURT and the debut of our new vinyl column
for elaboration.) A slew of timeless Lux Interior/Poison Ivy gems as well as
choice covers the group turned into signatures are included – tunes they
performed throughout their lengthy career up until the time of Interior’s
untimely death in 2009 – while no less a Cramps authority than UK journalist
Lindsey Hutton provides appreciative liner notes that place the group firmly in


Indeed, by some measures, the Cramps are The Great Lost Punk Group, having
slithered straight outta Akron
onto the dank confines of NYC’s burgeoning CBGB scene ca. 1975 only to be overshadowed subsequently by the likes of the
Ramones, Patti Smith and Television. They must not be forgotten, however, for as
Hutton puts it, “The band changed the face of culture, period.”


The Cramps, along with Alex Chilton, who produced their
early sides at various Memphis
studio, instinctively hewed to a primitive/primal vibe descended directly from
the rockabilly alkies of the ‘50s and the garage-rock delinquents of the ‘60s.
Their two-guitars/no-bass marriage of sound ‘n’ attitude was easily as iconic
as that of the Ramones or any other ground-zero punk group you’d care to list,
additionally serving up a crucial tutorial to the leather jacketed masses. One
moment they were resurrecting vintage rockabilly (Jack Scott’s “The Way I Walk”
was an early B-side; another turbocharged cover was Warren Smith’s “Uranium
Rock”) and R&B (vocalist Lux Interior’s creeped-out vocal on “Fever” essentially
negates Little Willie John’s cool and Peggy Lee’s sultriness). The next, they
were constructing their own singular brand of gothic-tinged trash-rock: witness
the shuddery horror of “Human Fly,” in particular femme fatale axe-wielder Ivy Rorschach’s tremolo-drenched twang and
sizzling fuzz; or the whooping, hollering, punk blooze of “Drug Train.”


Simultaneously a musical education and a deviant
celebration, The Cramps wound up outlasting most of their punk peers (their
final studio album, Fiends of Dope Island,
was released in 2002), undergoing a number of lineup changes over the years but
always featuring the Interior-Ivy core, whose inspired allegiance to trash ‘n’
twang still resonates after all these years. Stay sick, kids.


Way I Walk,” “Fever,” “Goo Goo Muck,” “Human Fly” FRED MILLS




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