The Cramps vinyl boots were an important part of not just my Crampular education, but my rock’n’roll education in general. They provided the archaeology of the band as well as a road map for any serious excursion into the history of the Big Beat. This really was the “ancient knowledge believed lost to the world” that Mr Hutton‘s book referred to. Although, scoring a new Cramps boot from a brown-sauce-stained cardboard box on the manky, rat-shit-strewn floor of the Glasgow Barras Market in the mid-eighties was not quite as romantic as that phrase implies!
The band’s ongoing legal battle with IRS at the start of the eighties led to a drought of class A Cramps on the streets. As with everything else, nature abhors a vacuum, and soon there was illicit product being peddled from dark alleys and disreputable abodes. This illegal stuff was rawer, meaner, nastier and provided a (new kind of) kick for us teens needing some of the good stuff.
There were demos, songs we’d never heard before and wild live versions of our faves; sometimes featuring git-wranglers and tub-thumpers we never knew had tenure. And, once we were through listening to the Cramps tearing up the songs, we had to hunt down the originals. And in the dark days before the interweb, that were no easy task!
Anyway, enough blabbing, here’s…
Mondosean’s top 10 Cramps boot LPs!!!!!!!
1. Rock ’n’ Roll Monster Bash – the first boot I got and always my fave. First run of this one is a
white sleeve with artwork (ripped off from the classic Hallowe’en gig poster from Hurrah, NY on 28 October 1978) printed across the full sleeve with white labels. Second pressing is a plain white sleeve with the art photocopied onto a wraparound A3 sheet of paper with printed Turn Blue Records labels. Picked up a variant a few years ago with the art photocopied onto a (turn) blue sheet of A3.
The show captured on the LP is from the Edge, Toronto on July 18 1980 and it sounds like it was gouged into the wax with a switchblade. Yep, this one is raw and uncompromising; the sound is nasty and ain’t taking no prisoners. Recorded not long after Bryan had disapeared into the night, it features Julien H (Hechtlinger/Griensnatch/Greensnatch/Bwond) on second guitar and is the only vinyl to capture this exciting short-lived line-up. A more complete recording of the two sets contained here surfaced a few years back and it kind of makes you wish that the bootleggers would go down the super-deluxe-anniversary reissue route – a 180gm double of this for Record Store Day!
|There be monsters !|
Mention has got to be given to the T-shirt the LOTC did at the time with the Monster Bash design on it with luminous lettering - wore that thing ‘til it fell off me! Same show turned up on the Stay Sick, Turn Blue boot.
|Also comes in red !|
Packaging aside, this is one hell of a boot! Recorded at the Hot Club, Philadelphia on 10 November 1977 this boot has really good sound from a killer show featuring the classic early line-up of Lux, Ivy, Bryan and Nick. Without a doubt, the best version of Jimmy Lloyd’s Rocket in My Pocket available. There’s three versions of this one that I’m aware of and I’m not entirely sure which one is first or second pressing. All versions have the same sleeve, but one pressing has Basil Records (UK) Ltd labels, one has white labels and a third has both - white labels and separate sheet with Basil Records label stickers!
3. Tränsylvåñan Täpes MCMLXXVIII – Sometimes referred to as “The Last Record”, Tapes really earned its reputation as one of thee legendary early Cramps boots. The sleeve lists side 1 as recorded by Chris Spedding in “Dracula’s house” and the live show on side 2 as coming from the “deep Carpathian mountains”. Actually, only three of the tracks on Side 1 were the Chris Spedding demos, the rest produced by LX Chilton in Memphis.
|Sounds about right to me.|
5. You Betta Duck – The ’84 tour was the last hurrah for the classic twin-guitar Cramps. Kid Congo had departed the band the previous year and Nick’s cousin Ike Knox (Mike Metoff) was filling in for the tour. Ike sometimes gets short shrift from Cramps fans, but this recording really shows his guitar playing to be a fine fit in the band.
On the Alien Records label, You Betta Duck! Can be found on black, clear, blue, grey, cream, dark blue, clear blue and silver vinyl – collect ‘em all! For the more adventurous, a hunt for the full sound board recording of this wonderful show rewards with further gems, including covers of Lonnie Allen’s You’ll Never Change Me and Andre Williams’ Bacon Fat.
6. Voodoo Rythm – On the “O. KR cds” label, Voodoo Rythm [sic] is a rare breed of boot. This baby has live stuff, demos and… a soundcheck!
This one was rejigged in ’98 by Alien Records as Persecuted Prophets with B-Movie Souls, which erroneously claimed all the live tracks to be Smell out-takes. But a fine re-boot all the same!
|Idols.....Voodoo or not !|
Comes in a plain white card sleeve with a photocopied front and back glued on. Each copy is stamped, individually numbered on the back sleeve. Although usually listed as a run of 300, my copy is 455, so who knows how many exist.
Resurfaced a few years back as Psychedelic Jingles, which claimed to be pressed from the original stampers of Voodoo Idols. Although a real nice boot in its own right, the sound on Idols is far superior to that on Jingles.
|Shame Bryan wasn't around for the photo !|
9. Booze Party – An exquisite double album set featuring my fave bass-wielding Cramp, Miss Candy del Mar. Recorded on 3 January 1989 at the Ritz in New York, this one really shows the evolution of the band between Date with Elvis and Stay Sick.
|And a bottle of Bop Pills please.|
Everything about this LP set oozes class from the clear sound in the grooves to the sweet photos used on the sleeve. Can be got on black vinyl and peachy orange vinyl, both on the Lux Records label. Re-booted by Exile Records on CD as The Wild Wild World of the Cramps, but missing side 4.
10. Live at Harry’s – For the last one in the Top 10, we have another great sounding Kid-era boot from Larry’s (NOT Harry’s!) Hideaway, Toronto on 14 June 1982.
|Harry's ? Larry's...Dixlexkia is all around us !|
So, what did I learn from putting together a Top 10 Cramps boots list? Right up front – there’s no better way to spend a couple of days than listening to a stack of Cramps boots! Thanks to Darren and Trash, Garage Garbage and Other Delights for giving me a reason (like I needed one!) to do so.
Stay Sick Kiddies !