The Cramps – File Under Sacred Music: Early Singles 1978-1981 (Munster Records)


File Under Sacred Music: Early Singles 1978-1981

Their repertoire may mostly be covers, but The Cramps were true rock and roll originals. They seemed to come from some faraway planet in the late-1970s, bringing with them songs that combined the fun of rockabilly, garage rock and novelty records, with the intensity of punk rock, to make something unique and often amazing. They went through several lineup changes over the years, but at the core were the corrosive guitar sounds of Poison Ivy, and singer  Lux Interior, a truly demonic front-man: part rockabilly voodoo-shaman, part Frankenstein’s monster. True fact which sums up The Cramps pretty well: The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame has a drum head on display that Interior (real name: Erick Perkhiser) put his head through during a concert.

The Cramps were never better than the period this singles compilation focuses on, with twenty-two golden nuggets from their 1978-1981 peak. True, all the songs on File Under Sacred Music can be found (along with other classics) on Psychedelic Jungle/Greatest Hits, Songs The Lord Taught Us and Bad Music For Bad People, but those haven’t been remastered since they were first issued on CD decades ago, so even if you already own them, you’ll want this just for the revelatory remastering job. Spending money on songs you already own just for better sound quality may be a tough sell, but it really makes all the difference here, especially on a few quiet songs (“Lonesome Town” and “Fever”) that I feel like I’m hearing for first time even though I’ve listened to them for years, thanks to the audio scrub’n’clean. Even their psychotic cover of The Trashmen’s timeless “Surfin’ Bird” (which kicks the album off) sounds ten times better and more primal, now that you can hear every jagged shard of tremolo and echo with clarity. Now all Munster needs to do is remaster and reissue the rest of their discography.

Tracklisting:

1. Surfin’ Bird
2. The Way I Walk
3. Human Fly
4. Domino
5. Lonesome Town
6. Mystery Plane [Original Mix]
7. Fever
8. Garbageman
9. TV Set
10. The Mad Daddy [Original Mix]
11. Drug Train
12. Love Me
13. I Can’t Hardly Stand It
14. Twist & Shout
15. Uranium Rock
16. Goo Goo Muck
17. She Said
18. The Crusher
19. Save It
20. New Kind of Kick
21. Rockin’ Bones
22. Voodoo Idol