Rockabilly Voodoo Tunes by The Cramps for All Hallows’ Eve
While I hope this post serves as appreciation for the Cramps, a revolutionary punk rock band in their own right, I understand some of you could be looking for cool, horror-inspired tones for the coming weeks. Therefore, I created 10 of the best songs by The Cramps for Halloween. Some are obvious, others with a bit of trivia, and each worth a listen.
Before the list, you should know that The Cramps were formed by Lux Interior and Poison Ivy, a couple of groovy cats who encouraged one another through any forum they ventured into including music. Drummers, bassists, and others came and went, but Poison Ivy and Linux Interior would remain with the band until their final show in 2006 at the Marquee Theater in Temple, Arizona.
The band started in 1976 and performed at CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City during the punk rock revolution in New York. Blending their influences of rockabilly and old-school rock ‘n’ roll with a side of blues and a mix of the strange, the band produced a revolutionary sound they called Rockabilly Voodoo, sometimes called Pyschobilly. It can be said that The Cramps helped pave the way for what would become the Horror Punk genre, and for that we should all be entirely grateful.
Now, without further ado, here is your list of the 10 songs by The Cramps I’d recommend for Halloween. Enjoy, swine.
Goo Goo Muck
Popularized in recent years due to Jenna Ortega’s dance on a show called Wednesday, “Goo Goo Muck” is one of The Cramps’ finest songs from their collection. Those creepy, yet satisfying lyrics of a monster looking for something to eat with Poison Ivy’s smooth rockabilly guitar always bring the awe of coolness to my bones. Easy to dance to with a slice of sinister – you can’t beat it.
I Was A Teenage Werewolf
“I Was A Teenage Werewolf” was an obvious choice for this list. That subtle pounding that builds and Lux Interior’s shrill, sometimes howling voice hooks its fangs in you. The song encapsulates the essence of a werewolf, this animal rage inside you that you are begging to be stopped. Beyond its lyrical components, I believe this song showcases one of the most unappreciative aspects of The Cramps – their openings. They are often smooth, always cool, and, above all else, give you a reason for your ears to ask for more.
The toe-tapping, boogie-induced tune known as the “Zombie Dance” had to make the list, no? What’s Halloween without the idea of the walking dead transforming into the dancing dead? And for their lifeless bodies, The Cramps provided a high-pitched rhythmic guitar with a jungle drum beat that is sure to make any walking stiff move their hips.
“Human Fly” has to be one of the best songs that show the unique stellar sounds Poison Ivy can conjure. I love the guitar opening that twirls from low to high like a fly buzzing around until Lux Interior’s voice joins the game. Much like “I Was A Teenage Werewolf,” this song showcases The Cramps’ ability to transform their sound, whether it be voice or guitar, into the song’s subject matter without losing their identity in the process. The Cramps’ grotesque imagery with the lyrics always pairs with the sound transporting you to another dimension or cosmic reality where humans can be flys without a reason why.
The Creature from the Black Leather Lagoon
For those who don’t know, the video for “The Creature from the Black Leather Lagoon” was banned from MTV. The poor studio execs thought the video was too provocative with it featuring moments like Poison Ivy sitting on Lux Interior’s face. Sounds like family fun to me. No matter, musical it’s stellar. And if you are in the mood to rage, maybe throw some pumpkins around this Halloween, this song could get you pumped for those teenage sinister acts thanks to the screams of “smash, splash” in the chorus.
What’s Behind the Mask
Halloween can be about exposing your inner desires and hiding, mysteriously behind a mask. With “What’s Behind the Mask” by The Cramps, your curiosity is heightened with perfect time-beat drops and a driving guitar. You can feel the insanity in Lux Interior’s voice as he demands to know the face of a masked woman. It’s a song that is perfect for those who are eager to be romantically teased this Halloween.
Aloha from Hell
Kicking off with a snap drum, followed by this easy strumming guitar, “Aloha from Hell,” mixes the demonic with Hawaiian vibes. Lux’s voice sounds a bit like Elvis, if you ask me, pushing his mouth and offering that yodel sound. Overall, within the lyrics of the song, I can’t help but think the true meaning behind it is to tell a former lover to go to hell.
This tune, beyond its lyrical theme, makes the list due to its role in the 1985 masterpiece – The Return of the Living Dead. Landing at the first track of the motion picture soundtrack, “Surfin’ Dead” is the perfect tune for a bunch of teenage punks dealing with a horde of zombies. If you haven’t seen the film, this ought to give you more than a reason to check it out.
Honorable Mention: Mean Machine & Strange Love
Back in 1995, The Cramps appeared in a Halloween episode of Beverley Hills 90210. Titled “Gypsies, Cramps, and Fleas,” you can find “Mean Machine” and “Strange Love” within the episode. Brief as their appearance may be, and as shocking as it might seem, it is still cool to see Lux Interior in his all-black onesie in between shots of dramatics that always false less than short when it comes to entertainment.