R.I.P. Lux Interior of the Cramps
Lux Interior, frontman for psychobilly (emphasis on psycho) greats the Cramps, passed away yesterday at the age of
52 62. I dug through The Post archives and found some old reviews of the band's shows from years past to give a feel for what the live experience was like. And in case that's not good enough, there's a video clip from 1978. Oh yeah, the show was at a mental hospital. Of course.
August 24, 1979
Rockabilly, that fast-paced southern rock 'n' roll style defined by Elvis Presley in the mid-'50s, has been enjoying a revival in the '70s. New York City's Cramps don't revive it so much as send it to a mental ward for mutant experimentation.
On top of thunderous rhythms and compulsive hiccuping, the band grasps themes from voodoo, monster and sci-fi movies. The band's lead singer, Lux Interior, comes on like a spasmodic cross between Presley and Vincent Price. He defines one of rock's most fascinating personas with originals like "Human Fly," "Garbage Man" and "Teen-age Werewolf."
The Cramps, who have built a devoted following in D.C. because of their volatile performances, had the crowd at the Psyche Delly on their feet all night. Instead of slavishly imitating pure rockabilly, the band recalls the raucous primitivism and spontaneous outrageousness that is the music's spirit.
(Two more reviews after the jump.)
Nov. 2, 1983
The Cramps playing flat-out come closer to embodying the exultant, illogical, redemptive powers that set rock 'n' roll apart from other forms of pop music than any American act performing today. In a set revitalized by the injection of strong, new original material, the group floored a sold-out house at the 9:30 club last night.
This extraordinary band has been taken for granted all too often. After scooping out a stylistic niche for itself nearly a decade ago -- roughed up roots blues, rockabilly and garage-punk -- Cramps has not changed appreciably since. Lead guitarist Ivy Rorschach has not gained an iota of technical finesse, purposefully flirting with incompetency to steer clear of complacency. Likewise, drummer Nick Knox and the new rhythm guitar player, his cousin Mike, kept their playing prim and primitive, a spartan but spooky backdrop. Vocalist Lux Interior, hair teased tall and proud, prowled the stage looking and sounding high, wired and wild as always.
Oct. 11, 2004
They once titled an album "Stay Sick!" and a recent song "Dopefiend Boogie," but at the 9:30 club Saturday night there was no denying it:
Lux Interior and Poison Ivy Rorschach looked downright healthy. After nurturing the Cramps on a 30-year diet of primal rock stew -- from rockabilly to Screamin' Jay Hawkins and every twisted spawn in between -- chased with a penchant for greasy late-night decadence, Lux and Poison have earned the right to look wrung-out. But with former Blasters drummer Bill Bateman laying down a whip-crack beat, the Cramps slithered and strutted through a surprisingly taut 20-song show.
The leather-panted Lux was in fine voice throughout and remains remarkably lithe (most bios list him as being born in 1946), now letting only hints of his infamous self-abuse show through (he even kept his shirt on!) in the form of some well-rehearsed falls. Ivy was the night's real star, though, digging through a series of guitar riffs that shimmered, burrowed and tremoloed with muscular precision.
The set list leaned too heavily on last year's dire "Fiends of Dope Island" (with Bateman managing to make fodder like "Big Bad Witchcraft Rock" swing), but when the band waded into prime Cramps muck ("Rock on the Moon," "Primitive," "TV Set") the pyschobilly tension was beautiful. Lux and Ivy even pulled out "Lonesome Town," which they first disemboweled on 1977's "Gravest Hits," and its murky, creeping tones were the highlight of an unexpected display of Cramps staying power.
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