trashcanman | Hanford, CA United States | 10/07/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Gotta love these guys. The Cramps are an odd band indeed. Combining the primitive and aggressive stylings of punk rock with a classic surf guitar sound and old-time rock 'n roll sensibilities with lyrics about B-movies movies, sex, and just plain weirdness delivered with a winking sense of whimsy makes for one wacky psychobilly band. The "Psychadelic Jungle" album was recorded in the early 80's and as a gift to those who buy this album the EP "Gravest Hits" (1977) is presented on this CD as well. The production is nonexistent, the band is chaotic, the lyrics are nonsensical, but it's damn near impossible not to enjoy The Cramps' music. They are the perfect band for a Halloween bash and sound like they should be scoring a Robert Rodriguez flick. You have likely heard them singing "Surfing Dead" (not from this album) in the film The Return of the Living Dead.
Right from the get-go Poison Ivy's stone-groove rhythm guitar draws you in. "Green Fuzz" may be about marijuana or maybe charismatic frontman Lux Interior is just singing nonsense as usual, but I'll be damned if it doesn't sound great. The album oozes, throbs, and lurches along from there with an eery groove that brings to mind some sort of voodoo ritual. Interior's perpetually off-kilter delivery is nothing if not entertaining. "Rockin' Bones" has him insisting that his skeleton be hung up on the wall after he dies so he can keep on rocking while the percussion sound seems to suggest that it would make a good musical instrument. "I'm proud of my life, but I don't know why" he sings on "Primitive" which is sort of the band's mission statement. The Cramps make primal music about primal things and they are indeed proud of it. The humor is carefree but the tone still manages to be foreboding. Whether paying noisy homage to the violence of pro-wrestling in "The Crusher", buzzing loudly into the microphone as a "Human Fly", or making lurid double-entendres in "Goo Goo Muck", Lux Interior makes you love him. Seriously, if you don't smile at the sagely "Don't Eat Stuff Off the Sidewalk" then you hate funny.
Other highlights for me include The Cramps' tribute to insanity, "Beautiful Gardens", which features among it's unhinged laments "the vampire lesbos are after me!". But those are the best kind of lesbos, man! The song eventually collapses into an incomprehensible mess, which is fitting when depicting a man's descent into madness through music. The double shot of "Jungle Hop" and "The Natives Are Restless" give cannibals their rockin' due. Among the old-time covers from "Gravest Hits" is "Surfin' Bird". So how do you make one of the most obnoxious songs ever written even more so? Add multiple noise jams and sloppy production, that's how.
The Cramps may be far from horrific, but they are still an indispensable addition to any Halloween soundtrack. The groove is undeniable, the delivery irresistible, and the sound is as classic as they come. If you could distill your favorite B-movies into a sound, then this band would likely be that sound. Their sensibilities are firmly tongue-in-cheek and their love of all things tacky is worn on their sleaves. Like I said, gotta love 'em."
A wonderful Punkabilly gem
Thomas Harding | murfreesboro, TN USA | 06/19/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Cramps have always been a bit of an oddity to the uninitiated, it would seem. My mother used to hear me playing them on my stereo in high school, with no objection to their rockabilly roots, however she could never grasp why when the college station would show old video of their live shows, they were so over sexed and "out there."
There in lies, for me, the joy of the music on this album. while not particularly in your face sexually speaking, the undertones and inuendo seem to float in and out to the pulsating rock beats and the heavy reverb. Drawing heavily from surf rock of the 60's, there's a hauntingly soothing feel to many of the tracks on this combined reissue ("The Crusher" not being among such songs). A great soundtrack for a late night trip to the drive-in or downtown, assuming that's your thing. The only reason that i dont rate this album at 5 stars is that very few of the tracks have stood out over the course of three full listening session, GooGoo Muck and about three others. A good starting point for those looking for an introduction to the Cramps, but for that purpose i would more likely recommend Bad Music for Bad People, but it also stands as a solid release for those familiar with such music. A word of warning- While often pinned as "psychobilly" it should be noted that the cramps are not nearly as aggressive as most psychobilly bands tend to be"
A Jungle Full Of Hits
Morton | Colorado | 04/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Cramps-Psychedelic Jungle/Gravest Hits *****
The grandparent of psychobily The Cramps have rereleased two of their biggest sellers on one cd. Psychedlic Jungle was one of the bands most popular albums of their career. Gravest Hits was what it sounds like the bands greatest hits but in true psychobily tradition they have to add the dark drama to the title. The bands greatest hits is good for someone who just wants to get to know The Cramps or for someone who is just getting into the band but it does not do the band justice as most of their best songs were not even released as singles so they couldnt have become hits. Psychedelic Jungle while it is a great album it could have been better, it is certainly no Bad Music For Bad People.
The Cramps are among a rare breed of bands that are so original and so authentic and good that it is hard not to like them.
Sepperatly the two albums are nothing way two special Psychedelic Jungle is three stars at the most and Gravest Hits is easily a four but placed together like this and they quickly become five stars. This is a collection of songs that would help to introduce any new fan of the genre or of the band."
Greatest CD ever made
Jack | North Carolina | 07/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Psychedelic Jungle is without a doubt the best Cramps album and combining it with Gravest Hits puts this CD at the top of the musical heap. Definately one of my favorite albums and I cannot recommend it enough.
Lonesome Town intro - Lux in memorium
Tim | Chicago, Illinois, USA | 04/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Since Lux Interior passed away 2/4/09, I've been buying all the old Cramps stuff on CD to complement the vinyl I have of the original releases. On hearing "Lonesome Town" on this CD, I was overjoyed and saddened to hear Lux's spoken-word intro, speaking as Ricky Nelson (who popularized this song) - this wasn't included on the original track on Gravest Hits and I'd never heard it:
Some people call me a teenage idol They smile and say they envy me I guess they got no way of knowin' How lonely it can be
...followed by the Cramps' incredibly sad and desolate version of this great tune. Hearing this brought tears to my eyes. Long live The Cramps!