The Cramps

I’ve written before about ’70s/’80s punkabilly band The Cramps.

I always loved their sound, and their attitude.

I like them so much, and the post-war US cultural ideal that they represent, that I keep a Cramps sticker on my car:

But The Cramps would give a modern-day wokester Puritan cultural nightmares. Look at some of their song titles:

  • Bikini Girls with Machine Guns
  • Smell of Female
  • Like a Bad Girl Should
  • Hot Pearl Snatch
  • Bend Over, I’ll Drive
  • I Wanna Get In Your Pants
  • Can Your Pussy Do The Dog?

Can you just imagine how much metoo opprobrium would be directed at them? Cue a torrent of po-faced dumb clichés about “toxic masculinity”, “oppressive male gazes” etc.

Nor would our modern Puritans’ rage be helped by lead guitarist Poison Ivy’s tendency to wear little more than her underwear on stage.

The wokesters would be missing every point, of course.

Ivy did exactly what she wanted to do.

Ivy was a former dominatrix, and she was the driving force in the band. And the band’s lead singer, the late Lux Interior, was usually equally, if not more, disrobed.

Of course, Lux and Ivy were happily married for 37 years. Following his death in 2009, Ivy, heart-broken, sadly retired from music and withdrew from public life altogether.

The endearing, mad-cap Lux was one of the best front men of all time; and the cool-as-fuck Ivy (she does a great Elvis sneer), on her trademark connoisseur’s Gretsch 6120 hollow-body guitar (also beloved of 1950’s rockers such as Eddie Cochrane and Duane Eddy) served up some of the dirtiest sounding riffs in rock music (as you might expect from a woman who proudly drove a 1956 Dodge with the famous D500 engine) – check out the grit in this live version of “Hot Pearl Snatch” (Ivy’s the woman to the right (not with the punk haircut), playing the 6-string lead):

We have been accused of being sexist,” sighed Ivy, who co-wrote the songs with Interior. “They don’t comment on our music at all, or the fact that maybe what I play is unique and I’m not mimicking some male guitarist — that this is original. I co-write the very sexual ones. All I see is our songs have to do with, from the male point of view, being intrigued by the power and mystery of females.

I think it’s a great tradition in blues songs and I think we’re in a good tradition there, too. He is loving being overpowered by women and turned on. And a lot of people just confuse
being turned on with being sexist — like it’s not OK to be flat-out horny over someone else. That’s really pitiful, but that happens to be the way things are right now. It’s a fear of sex in general, sex and power

The Cramps understood rock n roll. Along with Motörhead, the Cramps in my view were one of the last bands to exemplify the true spirit of rock ‘n’ roll. As Lux once noted:

We’re sick and tired of rock ‘n’ roll getting such a good name and being so respectable … we like to keep it unhealthy … we’re a true rock ‘n’ roll band, which is more than just a musical group … we represent our fans”.

And that, in a nutshell, is why their fans still rate them.

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