Having won back the rights to six of their albums, the Cramps
are back in the business of self-production with their April release Fiends of Dope Island
combines covers of the Wailers' "Hang Up" and Arthur Lyman's exotica "Taboo" with such classically Cramped originals as "Dr. Fucker M.D. (Musical Deviant)" and "Mojo Man From Mars." Over the past 30 years, Eric "Lux Interior" Purkhiser and Kirsty "Poison Ivy Rorschach" Wallace have survived a legion of producers, record labels, lawsuits, drummers and guitarists (including one who drove away after a gig with the band's equipment-filled van). Though they occasionally contest the psychobilly tag, their musical production belies such protests, capturing the unchecked sexuality and sophomoric humor of the genre in songs continually drawn from the vast underbelly of American popular culture -- B-movies, pulp novels, freak shows, rock & roll.
Ignoring any signs of aging, Lux performs as frenetically as ever, gyrating around the stage often in little more than a G-string while Poison Ivy pounds, sneers and struts in five-inch stilettos as if yanked right out of a Doris Wishman film. It's been 27 years since the Cramps' first CBGB gig; in recent memory, they've made appearances on Beverly Hills 90210, SpongeBob SquarePants and Beavis and Butt-head. In other words, an evening with the Cramps should lure old and new fans alike. If you have access to the BBC's Shooting Live Artists series, a meticulously rendered remake of the Cramps' infamous 1978 show at the Napa State Mental Hospital airs on June 13 in all its gritty bootleg glory, re-enacted and then digitally dirtied up to simulate the original. It's a bit high concept, perhaps -- but for those who want the real junk, Pop's offers it up Saturday night.