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2007/11/23

The Cramps - How To Make A Monster


Band: The Cramps
Album: How To Make A Monster
Country: USA
Release Date: 2004

Part of the beauty of the Cramps is the consistency of their vision -- since 1976, their body of work has been one long fever dream of kinky sex, bug-eyed monsters, and switchblade-wielding juvies, married to the primal twang of an electric guitar and the malevolent thud of a drum kit. While the quality of their work has run through some peaks and valleys over the years (they've made plenty of good records, but just a few great ones), they seem to have known what they were shooting for from the very beginning. How to Make a Monster, a two-disc collection of demos, rehearsal tapes, and live recordings, documents the band's formative years (for the most part), and while a few of these takes push the boundaries of the word "primitive," this is the Cramps, alive and oozing, from the very first lo-fi run-though of "Quick Joey Small." The first two sets of recordings, from 1976, are plenty crude (in terms of both performance and audio quality), but the band's energy and abandon are already in place, and while later tapes (from 1981 through 1988) are cleaner, the band ultimately doesn't sound that much different, just tighter and better at what it's doing. While Lux Interior sounds a bit subdued in some of the earlier studio stuff, he's a live wire all through disc two, which preserves two early live shows, one at Max's Kansas City in 1977 and the other from CBGB's in 1978. The band has to put up with a too-cool-for-school audience for the Max's show, which periodically heckles the band (gotta wonder what those "hipsters" are up to today), but Poison Ivy Rorschach's deadly guitar is already on the case, and by the time the CBGB's gig rolls up, the Cramps sound loud and proud, and the crowd is with 'em all the way. How to Make a Monster is hardly the definitive Cramps anthology (this is one band that has earned a box set by now), but it's a fun and fascinating look at their early days, and if you subscribe to the notion that the older the Cramps record is, the better, then this little item's a must. Great notes from Lux and Ivy, too, along with some classic flyer art and provocative photos.

CD 1
1-Quick Joey Small
2-Lux's Blues
3-Love Me
4-Domino
5-Sunglasses After Dark
6-Subwire Desire
7-TV Set
8-Sunglasses After Dark
9-I Was A Teenage Werewolf
10-Can't Hardly Stand It
11-Sweet Woman Blues
12-Rumble Blues
13-Rumble Blues (False Start)
14-Rumble Blues
15-Rumble Blues
16-Lonesome Town
17-Five Years Ahead Of My Time
18-Call Of The Wighat
19-Hanky Panky
20-Journey To The Center Of A Girl
21-Jackyard Backoff
22-Everything Goes
23-All Women Are Bad
24-(Untitled Track)
Summer 1976 (1-8), Oct. 1976 (9-10), 1981 Rehearsal (11-16), 1982 A&M Studio (17-19), 1988 Rehearsal (20-22), 1988 Home Demo (23)

CD 2
1-Don't Eat Stuff Off The Sidewalk
2-I Was A Teenage Werewolf
3-Sunglasses After Dark
4-Jungle Hop
5-Domino
6-Love Me
7-Strychnine
8-TV Set
9-I'm Cramped
10-The Way I Walk
11-Love Me
12-Domino
13-Human Fly
14-I Was A Teenage Werewolf
15-Sunglasses After Dark
16-Can't Hardly Stand It
17-Uranium Rock
18-What's Behind The Mask
19-Baby Blue Rock
20-Subwire Desire
21-I'm Cramped
22-TV Set
Live at Max's Kansas City 1/14/77 (1-9), Live at CBGB 1/13/78 (10-22)

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