The Cramps “Gravest Hits” 1979. This past Saturday, October 21st, was The Cramps’ founder/singer Lux Interior’s birthday (b. Erik Lee Purkhiser 1946 d. 2009). A psychobilly classic, perfect for a pre-Halloween spin. Gravest Hits, produced by Alex Chilton, is a 5-song EP that includes their first two singles “Surfin’ Bird” (originally by The Trashmen) b/w “They Way I Walk” (by Jack Scott) and “Human Fly” (a Cramps original) b/w “Domino” (by Sam Phillips and originally performed by Roy Orbison) . They included a fifth track, “Lonesome Town” originally performed by Ricky Nelson.
The liner notes on the back of the EP are also perfect for the creepiest time of year: “In the spring of 1976, The Cramps began to fester in a NYC apartment. Without fresh air or natural light, the group developed its uniquely mutant strain of rock’n’roll aided only by the sickly, blue rays of late night TV. While the jackhammer rhythms of punk were proliferating in NYC, The Cramps dove into the deepest recesses of the rock’n’roll psyche for the most primal of all rhythmic impulses – rockabilly – the sound of southern culture falling apart in a blaze of shudders and hiccups. As light night sci-fi reruns colored the room, The Cramps also picked and chose amongst the psychotic debris of previous rock eras – instrumental rock, surf, psychedelia and 60′s punk. And then added the junkiest element of all – themselves….The Cramps don’t pummel and you won’t pogo. They ooze, you’ll throb.”