Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Cramps Human Fly & Show 428

In 1979 The Cramps released their Gravest Hits EP, which was a collection of re-worked covers and one original song “Human Fly”, but prior to this EP’s release the band put out two singles in 1978. “Human Fly” was released as the bands second single on Vengeance Records. The Cramps sound introduced elements of Rockabilly, Garage, Surf with a primitive Punk edge and “Human Fly” was the first original composition to display this sound. The song is a reference as were many early Cramps songs to 50’s Horror films, however The Human Fly was also a comic book superhero, what The Cramps did was take the B-Horror movie influence most likely from the 1958 film The Fly and this title “Human Fly” and put their own twisted primitive spin on it. "Human Fly" begins with creepy fly-like guitar rhythms as fuzzy Garage guitars distort in the background via both Poison Ivy Rorschach and Bryan Gregory before the drums of Nick Knox kick in, throughout the song Lux Interior buzzes in and out with his demented Elvis like vocals. The B-side to this track is the song “Domino” which is a Roy Orbison cover. For this song the band swings it into their own with heavy pounding drums and Lux Interior’s erratic vocal delivery.

The songs were recorded by Alex Chilton at Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tennessee in October of 1977, as would be the bands first full length release Songs The Lord Taught Us, which would be released in 1980. The sound of The Cramps has often been called Psychobilly and some fans disagree with this label, they are also listed as Garage Punk too. The bands sound was described in the linear notes to 1979’s Gravest Hits by Dr. J.H. Sasfy, Professor of Rockology, American Rock'n'Roll Institute, Washington D.C., U.S.A. as this: " It is one of first documents of the rockabilly revival genre, and the psychobilly genre. The term "Psychobilly" can actually be traced back to the Johnny Cash song "One Piece At A Time", which was released in 1976 and is the first recorded piece of music to use that term. The Cramps would also use this term on early show posters to advertise their sound, in the process they helped to coin the term and define a genre. This was done inadvertently, Lux Interior has been outspoken about this saying that The Cramps music was just Rock music.

With lyrics like “I got 96 tears and 96 eyes”, “Human Fly” not only conjures up retro Horror movie images, but also pays homage to ? and the Mysterians a Detroit based Garage band who had a hit song called “96 Tears”. In the very same song we find lyrics such as “I got a garbage brain/it’s drivin’ me insane/And I don’t like your ride/so push that pesticide” which can be seen as a metaphor for the time in which The Cramps were releasing this music in the midst of the 70s Punk scene in which they became a fixture in New York. It was something they also built upon in the song “Garbage Man”, although it tended to lean more towards the state of mainstream radio in that song. Compared to the other music at the time, The Cramps along with the 70s Punk scene represented a shift and The Cramps definitely took elements of Rocks past adding the edge of Punk to move forward in their own direction. Not unlike the story told in Johnny Cash's "One Piece At A Time" in which he tells us of putting together a Frankenstein-like car with different stolen parts from car different models, The Cramps pieced together their music from different parts of what makes Rock music great and exciting. Whether it was Surf, Garage, Country, Rockabilly or Punk, The Cramps did this one piece at a time in each song and "Human Fly" is one of the first examples of this.

This Week's Play List:

1. Big Vinny & The Cattle Thieves – Got Me A Monster
2. Queens of The Stone Age – Burn The Witch
3. Torn Down Units – Lost On Ghost Road
4. Unicorns - Tuff Ghost
5. Mudhoney - Halloween
6. Screaming Lord Sutch - She's Fallen In Love With A Monsterman
7. The Cramps - Human Fly
8. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Up Jumped The Devil
9. Siouxsie and the Banshees - Halloween
10. Rotten Tropics – Nightmare Index
11. Deja Voodoo – Phantom Skateboarder
12. Ramones - Pet Semetary (Live)
13. Black Belles – Honky Tonk Horror
14. Cold Warps – Don’t Haunt Me, Ok?
15. Metz - Knife in the Water
16. Indian Wars – Commanche Killer
17. Tom Waits - Temptation
18. Ghost Bikini – Spooks
19. Spooks – Koji Kondo
20. TEENANGER – Frights
21. Fuzztones - She's Wicked
22. The Misfits – 20 Eyes

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for October 30. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

No comments: