Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Cramps "Psychedelic Jungle" (1981)

Here [iTunes], Kid Congo Powers and Ivy form just as fine a team as she and Gregory did on earlier releases, and if things aren't always as flat-out fried as on Gravest Hits and Songs, the same atmosphere of swampy, trashy, rockabilly-into-voodoo ramalama reigns supreme. The song titles alone show the band hasn't really changed its sights any: the opening two cuts are covers, "Green Fuz" and "Goo Goo Muck," while originals include "Caveman," "Can't Find My Mind," and the brilliant "The Natives Are Restless." Then there's "Don't Eat Stuff Off the Sidewalk," which almost sounds worthy of a Frank Zappa freakout (at least lyrically). Other legendary tracks like "Primitive" and "Green Door" get the Cramps makeover this time out, with the proper mix of respect and hot-wired energy, while "The Crusher" sounds like Interior's on the verge of going completely insane. The Cramps themselves take over the production this time out, resulting in a cleaner, crisper sound (especially when it comes to Knox's drums) that isn't quite as wired, for better or for worse. As commanding showmen, though, the quartet's style comes through big time, with Interior throwing in appropriate yells, yipes, and other sounds where appropriate; his antics at the end of "Goo Goo Muck" are especially gone. If anything, the moodier strutting throughout increases the creepiness of what's afoot; if things aren't psychedelic in the commonly accepted sense, it's certainly not easy listening. Interior sometimes sounds almost normal, but with the sense that something strange is lurking just around the corner, and Ivy is still one of the best guitarists around, her snarling reverb worth a thousand fret-shredders.



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