The Turner Music Prize 2008, vol. 3

I can see there's a lot of track-by-track gibberish. Which is why I'm providing the link to the download first off:

TURNER MUSIC PRIZE 2008, Vol. 3 [.zip file]
[Download disabled.]

Not very much cozy or sentimental music in the last two volumes, so here's something to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside…

1. The Notwist: «Boneless» (Panda Bear remix)
Credited to the Notwist, Panda Bear’s remix of «Boneless» so reworks the single it’s a whole new song—one so typical of the Panda Bear sound (that sunshine pop he does better than anyone) that it no longer belongs to the Notwist. More than a miraculous feat of remixing, though, Panda Bear has crafted a four-minute psychedelic utopia—a freewheeling mental realm where no danger or harm exists. I’d found it hard to even imagine, but here it is…
From «Boneless» 7"

2. Fleet Foxes: «White Winter Hymnal»
I hate to be the one—well, not really—to have to point out that precious souls don’t feel more, or feel more deeply, than those dismissed as cynical or hard-hearted. The sensitive souls just entertain more sentimental lies about life and love, that’s all. Which wouldn’t be so bad, did you not have to deal with such people all the time (and their sad attempts at keeping reality at bay), lured as you are into their
self-set traps time and again, precisely because their illusions are so tempting to believe. So sometimes it’s just as well to surrender against the overwhelming odds and simply give in to all the virgin romantics who make sentimental would-be teenagers rock themselves to sleep with pretty harmonies and inoffensive lyrics…
From Fleet Foxes

3. The Last Shadow Puppets: «The Chamber»
Speaking of pop craft, in my ideal world this is what pop music would still sound like. (Ah! that gently plucked reverb! The floating strings and ghostly backing vox!) Which it does, I suppose, seeing as this is in fact a new release.
Can’t you see you’re only here
to be torn apart
based upon a nothingness?
So leave yourself alone

Yourself, you must admit
that you are the instigator
hanging on to arguments
when you’re cornered by yourself
From The Age of the Understatement

4. Vetiver: «Roll on Babe»
Coming out of the bar, the oldest building on the oldest street corner in Amsterdam, I marvelled at the bartender, a knowledgeable older gentleman perfectly fluent in English, a connoisseur of spirits and a
walking, pouring lexicon of the city whose moral variety he obviously embraced, without judgement, and who generously regaled us with facts, anecdotes and histories about our beloved adopted town. «Yeah!» she said, in that way of hers that seemed to mean «I wholeheartedly agree, and moreover my enthusiasm right now knows no bounds, and here’s what…»—and so signalled a rave about to come about whatever merits she saw in what she’d just experienced. It was a sound accompanied by the language of her entire body, her eyes beaming, and you’d feel like stopping her in her tracks every time, to kiss her firmly on that small, shapely, painted mouth (something which would leave her looking pleasantly surprised and a little confused every time, as if she were totally unaware of her own charms). Besides, this «Yeah!» of hers started coming so often now, here in this place we’d made our home (for a reason, it turned out, although it was a win that’d been a gamble at first), that kissing her for her every «Yeah!» could only deteriorate into some annoying habit, out of sync with the roll we were on of discovering new and wondrous things… (Aw, shucks!)
From Thing of the Past

5. tindersticks: «The Flicker of a Little Girl»
This song’s a lullaby for grown-ups—or, summer bicycle music as you roll through the park. Perfect to sing along to for those who don't understand the words.
From The Hungry Saw

6. Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens: «What Have You Done?»
Backed by the Dap-Kings, this is the voice of your conscience (albeit in the tongue of a seventy-something woman). Within the entire field of
music, there’s a quality to North American gospel that’s unique to that genre and that genre alone. Some ineffable upward thrust that inspires hope and encourages a cleansing repentance. I don’t generally dig finger-pointing high-horse riders, but this old woman sings with the authority of a long life, and she's only referring you to your own conscience, anyway, rather than to strict morality. Who can argue against a common sense line like «Your wicked tongue can't twist forever»? If this grandmother's harsh, it’s only to be kind. So: «What! have you done, have you done?»
From «What Have You Done?» 45

7. Grizzly Bear: «While You Wait for the Others» (live on Morning Becomes Eclectic)
Ouch! Sometimes a songwriter will tell you something your friends won’t.
While you wait for the others
To make it all worthwhile
All your useless pretensions
Weighing all my time
You could hope for some substance
As long as you like
Or just wait all the evening
Always ask me why
Yes, you’ll only bleed me dry
The only real act of empathy sometimes is to just call it like it is, whatever the sting.
From one of those Internets
8. Department Of Eagles: «Phantom Other»
… what would it take to make you listen?
From In Ear Park

9. Women: «Black Rice»
It’s not that it’s a mediocre song, it’s just that it’s unassuming and self-contained to the point where
there’s nothing left to actually write about. Still, if you could still feel the warmth in summer, this would be the perfect accompaniment to a day in the park…
From Women

10. The Walkmen: «New Country»
A puzzlingly underrated band, the Walkmen’s 2008 album You & Me contains several other songs that could just as well have ended up on this round-up. One of the things about this song is the story, not told too cleverly, nor in that self-consciously contrived and literate manner of most lyricists, but straightforwardly recounted like a dishonest (or at best ambiguous) letter from one friend to another. When the narrator says,
The news is all good
and I’m flying high
I’m back on my own
Don’t worry about me
I’ve got no more baggage
Threw all my old things away,
it borders on bitter mockery, stopping just short of sarcasm, left for the recipient to uncover between the lines (careful as the sender is not to really burn his bridges). Perhaps it’s the melancholy guitar that betrays the reality: I don’t need you, «friend», but «meet me as soon as you caaaan / and bring me the money you owe me for me…» So what to do when all that there is left to share is some money owed? «Aw, maybe I’ll go see the wooorld / There’s plenty of places to see / And voices I never have heeaard.» Could use hearing a new voice myself…
From You & Me

11. Cat Power: «Naked, if I Want to»
Chan Marshall covers this Moby Grape song for the second time on her second covers album. That «ah-huh» does it for me every time, but apart from that she proves here what a great vocalist she is, the phrasing and strategic lingering of breaths adding to her impeccable tone and timbre. She’s got that slightly roughened voice—almost like
those husky Spanish girls, brown-eyed and raven-haired… Cat Power’s got that capacity for sorrow only a few performers possess. (Sometimes it’s too much.) But this track—although not entirely cheerful—is still feelgood. A last farewell—«I ain’t got no mercy / but I will pay you after I die»—and a looking back when your family’s gone and your friends have all proved an illusion, there are nevertheless no hard feelings: this'un had a great run!
From Jukebox (bonus disc)

12. The Black Keys: «All You Ever Wanted»
«… is someone to treat you nice and kind.» Well, that's all you ever want until someone does treat you nice and kind, at which point you start wanting a whole range of more complex and unattainable things…
But that's working against this song. Like a good ol’ country song, this takes you down from any kind of high-fallutin', agitated state of emotional imagination and back down onto the ground, where all you need to deal with is the workaday—and a little heartbreak. The safety of escaping heady, existential dread and being welcomed into the open arms of the ornery. I like the misheard lyrics I thought that I heard:
I’ll be your blackbird, darling
Hanging on the old telephone wire
Flap my wings on it
And set the old heart aflight
Well… one may dream, no? Hope the thing's still airborne?
From Attack & Release

13. The Dodos: «God?»
«Tell us how to feel inside / No lies, no lies, no lies! / And let us look upon that side / With eyes, with eyes, with eyes!» Amen?
From Visiter

14. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson: «Buriedfed»
Self-defeat never sounded this triumphant! Just like revolutions don’t actually overturn the system (as they claim to do), but rather perpetuate it in its hour of dire need, really changing little or nothing, suicidal ideation may fool an individual into thinking he’s flirting with his own end, when really he’s just venting his unhappiness in order to continue living. He awakens from his daydream to find replenished the minimum energy required to keep rolling passively on in life, rather than the determination to take that most decisive, definite step. What a
tease! Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson—fantasising here about his own demise—is a Singer-Songwriter, but he doesn’t just make this stuff up—inventing «characters» we then can go play «good people» by collectively commiserating with, all the while thanking our lucky stars it’s not us «but isn’t it just exquisite?» (and by that I mean «exotic»), and «Aw, how sad it is»—like shedding tears at a Hollywood blockbuster, fancying ourselves empathetic rather than self-indulgent at our oh-so-emotional response to problems we have no way of truly relating to other than in paltry imaginations spoon fed by money-thumbing producers and A&R execs. No, you can hear that’s not the case from Robinson’s delivery (expertly aided by members of Grizzly Bear and TV On The Radio), which by itself alone makes a mockery of all the sensitive troubadours squeezing into the sales niche and peddling their acoustic drivel to dreamers really too superficial or insensitive to know any better. And a line like «I didn’t like people much at all / Tasted better with alcohol» alone merits inclusion on any year-end list. For a little less than five minutes, do yourself a favour and take a break from bullshit—Because You Deserve It.
From Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson

15. Bon Iver: «The Wolves (Act I and II)»
Girls must love Bon Iver—or at least the idea of him as they listen to him pining for some «Emma» in the remote log cabin where apparently this song was recorded, «forever ago». The Americana-singer/songwriter and Weird-New-Freak-Folk-Family genres have become too widespread, maybe because people forget that the characters who make for some of the best poets and singers aren’t the bleeding-heart bohemians we like to imagine, but cold-blooded, flint-hearted and unrepentant sociopaths with a pronounced violent streak, routinely conning the sentimental
just as they rationalise their own actions (those martyred reactions to imagined victimisations). They say Stalin—perhaps the biggest monster in recent human history (at least if you count the number of lives afflicted or altogether snuffed out)—sang like an angel. He was also originally a romantic poet, as was the cowardly sadist known by the name of Che Guevara. Hitler
—another sensitive soul—enjoyed painting. There’s Charles Manson, whose bonfire songs hypnotised many a young girl (… and Neil Young… and the Beach Boys…). And before he became very famous, sweet soul singer Bobby Womack would be seen walking around in the ghetto, wearing the clothes of his lover’s man, who had mysteriously «disappeared» shortly before Womack took over the man’s woman and flash suits. Troubadour Arthur Lee of Love tried to kill a bandmate, as did Sly Stone and sensitive singer-songwriter-cum-schizophrenic hobo
Alexander Spence, who attacked members of his own band with an axe. Yet people insist upon assuming that sensitive artistes are sweet-natured—like Nick Drake, who was actually just clinically depressed to the point of paralysis. (Where were all the young art student girls and fashionable actors while he was still alive?) In other words, a pretty melody goes a long way. Just ask the supreme dictator of the Soviet empire… (That was a bit strong, actually. Bon Iver's perfectly OK for winter Sunday listening…)
From For Emma, Forever Ago

16. Kurt Vile: «Space Forklift»
Some performers use their astonishing capacity for beauty of melody, delivery and arrangement to tickle that soft underbelly silly. From 3:35 on I hardly know what to do with myself…
From Constant Hitmaker

17. Air France: «Collapsing at Your Doorstep»
Just a little piece of non-threatening substancelessness, to close the playlist on a pleasant note.
From «No Way Down» EP


Drinking Coca-Cola in the Street

1. Big Daddy: Happy Twistin Birthday
2. Lesley Gore: Things Go Better with Coke
3. Eartha Kitt: Under the Bridges of Paris
4. Manu Chao: Welcome to Tijuana
5. The George Baker Selection: Little Green Bag
6. Beck: Outcome
7. Calexico: El Picador
8. Lee Hazlewood: My Autumn's Done Come
9. Nancy Sinatra: How Does That Grab You, Darlin'? (incl. Coke ad)
10. Howlin' Wolf: Back Door Man
11. The Easybeats: Friday on My Mind (incl. Coke ad)
12. The Yardbirds: For Your Love
13. Gilberto Gil & os Mutantes: Procissão
14. Kenny Rogers & the First Edition: Just Dropped in (to See What Condition My Condition Was in)
15. Jimmy Takeuchi & the Exciters: Diamond Head
16. The Who: I Can See for Miles (incl. Coke ad)
17. The Beatles: Yer Blues
18. The Moody Blues: Things Go Better with Coke
19. The Rolling Stones: Under My Thumb
20. Bob Dylan: Positively 4th Street
21. The Strokes: You Only Live Once
22. Blind Melon: No Rain
23. Johnny Cash: We'll Meet Again
Get it here. [Download disabled.]


The Turner Music Prize 2008, vol. 2

Two down, one to go. You might think a year-end-list of three CD-length volumes may be a bit much, but it illustrates just how much good stuff (out of the endless wellspring of shit that floods our everyday lives) is actually made. So here are more tunes for your merry enjoyment:

TURNER MUSIC PRIZE 2008, Vol. 2 [.zip file]
[Download disabled.]

1. The Gutter Twins: «Down the Line»
José González’s 2007 single is a self-explanatory song, really. But as your DJ I advise you to listen carefully for the deep'n'booming soft growl of Mark Lanegan grounding Greg Dulli's singing, low in the background…
From «Adorata» EP

2. Wolf Parade: «Call It a Ritual»
Someone should probably let Wolf Parade know that this is a cover of Spoon’s «My Mathe-
matical Mind». Luckily, «My Mathematical Mind» has a great groove.
From At Mount Zoomer

3. Ladytron: «Black Cat»
Turn up the bass for this one. The trashy drums and the twin synth basses set the scene: darkrooms, glory holes, catwalks and beauty salons, all in the same place. This song is all coke’n’AIDS—a fitting
soundtrack to when all you have to lose is the next gramme and the future's so uncertain you need to rush to get your kicks in before the night's over, morning bringing only the awareness that you're stuck between a wasted past and a precarious future… But we're already ahead of ourselves. It’s an almost cosmic joke: billions of people genuflect before idols that don’t possess what they themselves sell. It’s not so much a paradox, perhaps, as a lie sold as enthusiastically as it is bought.
(Shovelled and lapped up in the same movement.) Still it’s tempting to say, whenever you're faced with all the transparently contrived and pouting poses on billboards, magazine covers, and TV sets, that those with the public sex appeal lack a private sex drive, and vice versa. But here, as the shaking, vibrating undercurrent of the bass meets the unimpressed and jaded voice, it appears the boredom of an elite set of models and pop stars too narcissistic to lust for anything but their own image finally meets the frenzied fantasies of the voyeuristic masses, in an unlikely union of ennui and savagery. The kind of decadence where the unbridled hedonism of junkies and perverts meets the unnecessary and ruinous luxuries of The Beautiful People. So, feel your morals ooze out of your pores with every dance move as you respond helplessly to the trashy groove; catch the syllables, dripping from the singer's mouth, coming from a place of hostility too haughty and indifferent to blossom into rage. (Rage would be generous, after all, insofar as it extends energy toward someone else, and who are you, anyway?) A voice that’s been around and back, but for no particular reason and with no reward to show for it, other than a readiness to be unimpressed by whatever it is that you have to offer…
But I digress. In a perfect world, this track is what they would dance to at strip clubs—or in any club. But of course, anyone who’s anyone and their nan is a DJ these days, none of whom seems to realise you can actually shake your hips and shuffle yer feet to something that’s not utterly toothless—grooves that aren’t just insults added to the injury of blissful ignorance, forever tacky in its tactics to please and dominate crowds, all around, all year round, everywhere you go. Maybe the financial crisis will thin out the endless queues of pursuers of happiness lining up to dance with their tails between their legs?
From Velocifero

4. Madonna: «Give It 2 Me»
The queen of make-believe hedonism and poster child for decadence is back. The lead-up to the chorus—«Don’t stop me now / No need to catch my breath / I can go on and on and on»—is irrepressible, and
that Eurotrash house synth which erupts once a prone & pouting Madonna starts begging you to «Give it to me!» does it for me every time. Feel your integrity shrink in the face of the urges, instincts and passions that accumulate within you as you're hooked by the shameless synth groove. This song evokes memories of pissed-up businessmen wearing generic blue shirts (no tie) and grey trousers (onto which mobile phone holsters are clipped, natch), as they stumble-dance among incognito transsexuals and prostitutes on nightclub catwalks. With this crowd-pleaser the club came alive, like a pathetic beast you'd rather see asleep. Yet who but Madonna personifies (and so inspires) decadence—that unapproachable 50-year-old, camel-toed star who says losing her virginity was a career move?
From Hard Candy

5. Verve: «Love Is Noise» (radio edit)
The group you hate to love, Verve are ready for some commercial success by the (stadium) sounds of it. (The drummer in particular sounds like he's got some mouths to feed.) They’re one of those bands that are too eager to please to ever achieve greatness. You can imagine them sitting in the studio, trying to come up with a hit, hungering for attention and validation from the same masses they’re trying so desperately to rise above. A song both shameful and shameless, there’s still no way you can not get hooked on the loop that underpins this whole thing. (Because it’s a bit of an ambiguous, if not exactly guilty pleasure, I’ve used the slightly shorter radio edit…) Anyway, this is what summer used to sound like back when I was a youngster.
From «Love Is Noise» single

6. Gnarls Barkley: «Run (I'm a Natural Disaster)»
Now that even electroclash has been betrayed and merged with the death of dance that we call «house music» (a genre that'd be retro by now, had it not been for the fact that house has hardly changed since 1991, rendering a retro venture meaningless), it’s a relief to hear someone still bringing the funk. And not the nice’n’kind funk of feelgood retro soul nights, or cheesy bling-bling nu-R&B (you know, soul without the soul). No, this funkster turns late ’60s psych-soul into psycho-soul, with a deranged Cee-Lo venting his creepiness to delightful effect. Run, children!
From The Odd Couple

7. The Brian Jonestown Massacre: «Golden-frost»
Muddy sounding, you can easily imagine Anton Newcombe playing everything here himself—except for the Icelandic rant—in some makeshift Icelandic «studio». When I saw the Brian Jonestown Massacre on their 2008 tour, they didn’t play a single song off the very
album they were promoting. The psychotic tape loop perfectly complements the underlying, repetitive ’60s riff, and although I have no idea what this Icelandic guy is yelling about, his obvious anger adds to the adrenaline the track pumps into your system. The messy, directionless track perfectly illustrates the confusion inherent in rage, and sometimes, when you're hanging on by the fingernails, all you need is energy—and what better energy source than a slice of anger? «All you need is love» my ass!
From My Bloody Underground

8. Plastic Crimewave Sound: «I Feel Evils»
I don't feel evils all around, but there's certainly enough weakness to go around…
From Painted Shadows

9. Beck: «Gamma Ray»
Trust Beck to devise some sort of psychedelic punk gem. What a riff, what ghostly backing vox, what a rhythm track to make you bounce
absurdly while seated on a sofa as you try and write about this song! And who else could write song lyrics where environmental catastrophe’s a metaphor for love? «The heat wave’s calling your name»!
From Modern Guilt

10. Eat Skull: «Shredders on Fry»
The band with one of the best names in the history of rock revel in noise like children in mud. And it’s infectious.
From Sick to Death

11. Ghetto Cross: «Dog Years»
Atlas Sound/Deerhunter member Bradford Cox and Old King Cole Younger of Black Lips team up for the perfect soundtrack to strolling around in Oslo in summer… Lone junkies scattered across the cityscape, laying about in various sunspots they, better than anyone, know how to appreciate after a brutal winter without sufficient shelter. It’s the sound of sweet collapse at the tail-end of euphoria, all fuzzy veins and buzzing bones, a feeling like you’re wearing some frail exoskeleton as your thoughts fall in all over each other into a come down headed for something only resembling sleep. «Now I want to stop!» cries Cole, but not in any kind of despair, just with that good feeling of exhaustion (like after a hard day’s manual labour), your conscience beaming because you lit a fire under your consciousness. (Sobriety, after all, is laziness.) Here’s to the jubilant burn-out.
From «Dog Years» 7"

12. Cloudland Canyon: «You & I»
Where did this track come from? This group? It's like AI soul music made by computers playing humans—like Hal 9000's got the blues…
From Lie in Light

13. Magic Lantern: «Feasting on Energy»
Mordi digge speisrock.
From High Beams

14. Atlas Sound: «April 13»
No one fashions a fuzzy sound-cocoon quite like Bradford Cox, and few meld melody (and especially song) with noise in such an utterly comforting manner.
This is twelve minutes of the type of break some people should probably have prescribed by their doctor once a day. The lyrics talk about that friend we’ve all had—unless you yourself are one of them (in which case I’ll love you forever)…
From http://www.deerhuntertheband.blogspot.com/

15. The War On Drugs: «A Needle in Your Eye #16»
A bit of a random choice, this. Wagonwheel Blues contains at least four superb songs, but this one's got the best title, by far. It's a feelgood Springsteen stomper, but don't let that put you off. It's got just a smidge of nostalgic longing to give it that extra emotional edge—something to conjure up images of the perfect group of adolescent friends that never was…
From Wagonwheel Blues


What a Lovely Way to Burn

Taking a time out from my best-of-2008 extravaganza to remember Lux Interior (21.10.46-04.02.09), a man-thing scholars debate whether came from the crypt, a UFO, a trailer or just straight out of the gutter—a deviant freak-hero who truly earnt his status as icon. Now that Lux has had his last kind of kick, my thoughts go to Poison Ivy Rorschach, his partner-in-crimes, nameless and shameless, for an eye-popping near-four decades—such an unlikely romance of the Ages, mired as the two were in filth. (But a cute, comic book filth, too, in-between the bona fide craziness.) It truly is one for the books: After Lux'n'Ivy, who can still say you can't be an indulgent libertine and a hopeless romantic at the same time? A decadent, hedonist reprobate in the throes of love?

I only got to see The Cramps once, in London in 2006. As I'd suspected, they weren't as subversive as I'd imagined they once were when I was listening to my fav tracks off of Gravest Hits, Songs the Lord Taught Us, Psychedelic Jungle and Off the Bone. But at a time when Nick Cave was being «stately» (in an attempt at growing old with dignity) and Iggy Pop was like a walking advert for organic health shakes, Lux Interior was still prancing around on stage, doing undignified things for a man at any age, sporting a too-tight leotard-type get-up he was definitely too old and out of shape to be seen in (even in front of the mirror in the privacy of his own home, much less in front of the exquisite and sexy Poison Ivy).

Which was precisely one of the things that made it great. Lux was just being Lux, and how could he be a parody of his former self when he'd always cultivated the tasteless? Sure, their performance might not have been as vital as they used to be in their heyday (like when they performed live at a mental hospital in 1978), but you could argue—The Cramps' obsession with youth culture notwithstanding—that Lux was being even more Crampy in his later, refreshingly undignified years.

And maybe some of the infamous edge had, not so much worn off, but been softened on purpose by Lux as he stood up there that night, after years of health-and-safety defying antics. That's understandable. (Would anything else have even been possible?) But how many people aged 59 stagger about on a stage with a bottle of red wine lodged in their mouth, drinking with no hands and sucking suggestively at the bottle, dribbling the Bacchanlian's favourite blood-like elixir like an exhibitionist splosher degenerate, the natural centre of attention in any crowd?

The answer, of course, is only one 59-year-old.

I originally wrote a lot more, but let's not get maudlin. Here's a little compilation I made with Lux and Ivy in mind. Their extremely knowledgable taste in bizarre, basic and ballsy music is well documented (check out the three volumes of Songs the Cramps Taught Us and eleven(!) volumes of Lux and Ivy's Favorites). So instead of all the usual fare, I've compiled a few songs I know they liked and many songs (or cover versions) I imagine they might like. I'm no rockabilly enthusiast, so I'm making up for that by including loads of their beloved garage-psych and a little exotica and novelty music. It's a guide to The Cramps—their background and their context; their influences and their influence—without actually including any of their music. (This doesn't seem like an appropriate time to distribute their output for free.)

Whatever the contents, the comp was made with this in mind: Lux Interior never stopped a-rockin' and a-rollin'!
Gonna take a week off
Gonna go to Hell
Send ya a postcard
Hey, I'm doin' swell!
Wish you were here
Aloha from Hell

I'll be dancin' thru the flames
Like a devil in disguise
You can hear me sing
But not by satellite
You can hear me sing
Aloha from Hell

I'll be glad to get away
Up here everything's so swell
You know some like it hot
And down there it's hot as Hell
Don't forget to write
Aloha from Hell
IVY EYES [.zip file]
[Download disabled.]

1. Vincent Price: «Music, When Soft Voices Die»
The eeriest voice ever, loved by ’50s revivalists and goths alike, recites a fittingly haunting poem by Percy Bysse Shelley.

2. Eartha Kitt: «Two Lovers»
Conceived by rape and born on a plantation, raunchy and sharp-minded autodidact Eartha Kitt passed away on Christmas Day. Kitt had been an eloquent and elegant champion of sexy freedom and tolerance in the risqué tradition of Mae West since the 1950s, The Cramps’ favourite decade. And she was the first Catwoman on TV, so I’m imagining they admired her. This song showcases the exotica leanings any fan of kitsch ’50s culture delights in (including The Cramps of course). RIP.

3. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins: «Little Demon»
The godfather of hysterical screams in popular music, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins sowed so many illegitimate seeds there’s an international association for those who can prove they’re his offspring. Lux Interior would focus more on honing the frantic delivery that made Screamin’ Jay Hawkins a timeless novelty artist, rather than on heroic evolutionary feats. This song's got a great lyric, about the «cat» who «took the fruit out of the frutti».

4. John Zacherle: «Dinner with Drac»
Zacherle was a schlock-horror TV host in the 1950s and ’60s. I imagine the coupling of vintage bad TV, horror and early rock’n’roll would be irresistible to The Cramps. «Igor! The scalpels go on the left, with the pitchforks!»

5. Mae West & Somebody's Chyldren: «Shakin' All Over»
In 1966, the 74-year-old sexpot film legend rounded up a few garage-dwelling teenagers and corrupted them into
recording lusty, garage rock versions of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, etc. «Shakin' All Over»—as played by the more subtle Johnny Kidd & The Pirates—is often cited as an influence on The Cramps. I prefer this wilder version by far; just picture West's saggy flesh, shakin' all over… Was there ever a sexier septuagenerian? Also, I like how golden oldies such as this one master the art of ingenious subtlety; in 1966 they'd sing, «Quivers down my backbone / I got the shakes down my knee bone / Tremors in my thigh bone…»—whereas nowadays, they'd just rap «Face down, ass up / That's the way we like to fuck!»

6. John & Jackie: «Little Girl»
Early rock’n’roll and tongue-in-cheek (not that cheek!) sex-ooze in perfect harmony, this one puts me in the mood.

7. The Frantics: «The Whip»
I know Interior and Rorschach liked The Frantics. This is my favourite of theirs. It brings to mind that time in Gold Coast's Warner Bros. theme park, where a lithe woman—squeezed into Catwoman's tight, black, full body leather suit—strode down the street, cracking a huge whip. As the Pulp Fiction «gimp»-like music of this track perfectly illustrates, I contemplated leaving everything and everyone behind and becoming her slave-thing, but was ushered away by my girlfriend…

8. Mohammed Rafi: «Nain Milakar Chain Churana»
Like everyone who hears it, Lux and Ivy loved Mohammed Rafi’s «Jaan Pehechan Ho». This one’s not bad, either.

9. Nervous Norvus & Kenny Burt’s Cavemen: «Stoneage Woo»
Nervous Norvus a.k.a. Jimmy Drake was one of rock’s weirder phenomena. He made novelty records, seemingly in all seriousness, in an idiosyncratic style no one’s possessed, before or since. Drake never scored a hit with his genre-defying style, but he kept trying, oblivious to the limitations of novelty music. The Cramps, like Mark E. Smith, were big fans of his song «Transfusion», but this one's just as representative of Drake’s nervous energy.

10. Billy Jo Spears: «Get Behind Me Satan and Push»
The Cramps are rockabilly connoisseurs, but apart from the occasional song, I could never get with that style of music. It always just makes me laugh. (Which might be the intention.) Like this song. But I love the attitude of «sassy lassie» Ms. Spears.

11. Ken Nordine: «Crimson»
Lux and Ivy professed a liking for Ken Nordine—a kind of Kafka, had the troubled bureaucrat made up stories for 5-year-olds. I'm sure Lux'n'Ivy would approve of this track, where, not very typically, Nordine's pleasing radio ad voice (the inspiration behind today’s ridiculous movie trailer narration) is set to surf accompaniment. This short track is one among many where Nordine explores the character of various colours. And crimson, as the man says, is sick—«sick and red!»

12. The Human Expression: «Love at Psychedelic Velocity»
The kind of naïve, dating and transparently calculating marketing strategy behind naming a track something so ridiculous as «Love at Psychedelic Velocity» is the kind of thing The Cramps, like so many kitsch revivalists, found irresistible. The track’s got great energy, though, and the type of sonic approach that would inspire The Cramps. Great fun—and the attitude!

13. Los Saicos: «Demolición»
The Cramps were professed fans of ’60s fuzzbucket proto-punk rockers The Sonics, and The Saicos have been labelled «The Sonics of Peru». Legend would have it that the Peruvian psychos never heard any of the American garage-psych records, but rather innocently tried—in their unskilled and technologically wanting manner—to make music inspired by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals et al. And they ended up with this crazed surf music. The vocals are inciteful, urging you to take to the streets and overturn cars and throw bricks through shop windows. «TA-TA-TA-TA-TA-TA-TA YA-YA-YA-YA!»

14. The Leathercoated Minds: «Psychotic Reaction»
When I saw them live in 2006, The Cramps played this song in a rendition faithful to Count Five’s original one-hit garage wonder. But The Leathercoated Minds’ singer’s decrepit scatting is in full keeping with The Cramps aesthetic.

15. The Missing Links: «Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut»
Surely, The Cramps would approve of this obscure Australian garage album track: Attitude, bursts of noise & feedback—all to a melody and lyrics by their darling Bo Diddley.

16. The Third Bardo: «Lose Your Mind»
In a transparent and pathetic attempt at breaking big, this song is a replica of The Third Bardo’s previous (moderate) hit, «I’m Five Years Ahead of My Time»—a song The Cramps liked to cover. The song's sentiment is a good idea, though, and with a fuzz guitar like that...

17. ? & the Mysterians: «96 Tears»
Largely forgotten today, this is one of rock history’s most important hits, its raw simplicity inspiring a whole generation of non-musicians to play anyway—and Lux interior to whimper, on 1979’s «Human
Fly»: «I am a human fly / And I don’t know why / I got ninety-six tears and ninety-six eyes!»

18. Suicide: «Radiation»
According to Suicide singer Alan Vega, ’60s garage rock sensation «96 Tears» forms the basis of this song, just as it inspired The Cramps' own «Human Fly». Although they sound different, the two bands shared an affinity for early rock'n'roll, screams and yelps, the gutter, and punk (which they helped kickstart in New York back in the '70s when they'd play CBGB's and the like).

19. The Birthday Party: «Release the Bats»
At this point—1982—The Birthday Party was probably the closest-sounding band to The Cramps. The tongue-in-cheek, rockabilly-meets-goth stylings and gutter lunacy were something they definitely had in common, not to mention the hysterical vocals and ejaculations of white guitar noise. While Lux Interior attempted to sound like Charlie Feathers, and Alan Vega as Gene Vincent, Nick Cave here gives it the Elvis treatment.

20. Thee Headcoatees: «Strychnine»
The Sonics' original was an old Cramps favourite. Here's a version by Billy Childish's grotty version of Spice Girls, his unskilled protégés Thee Headcoatees, which would launch Holly Golightly's career.

21. The Fall: «I'm a Mummy»
Bob McFadden & Dor's bandwagon Beatnik novelty song, «The Mummy», was yet another Cramps favourite. But it’s still a bizarre choice for a cover version, if you ask me. But then Mark E. Smith does resemble the living dead—a Working Class Ho-Tep.

22. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: «Dang»
Jon Spencer moved to New York to start an art rock band in the vein of Swans, but ended up playing stuff like this obviously Cramps-influenced rockabilly punker, replete with Theremin, the staple of any '50s schlock sci-fi B-movie. Pure Cramps.

23. The Stooges: «You Better Run (version 2)»
The Stooges were a huge influence on The Cramps, what with the poor man's decadence of their street hedonism and their deranged sense of theatrics (publicly cutting yourself with glass, dressing up in fetish clothing, covering yourself in peanut butter). I used to put this song on a lot, and my girlfriend at the time—a bigger fan of Iggy Pop than I—would roll her eyes every time, not quite ready to embrace his ad lib about rape. But that’s a good thing; offensiveness is a hallmark of relevance, and I'm glad to see Iggy's still got it after all these years.
(Only about a month before Lux Interior passed away, and at around the same age, influential Stooges guitarist and, er, Nazi fetishist Ron Asheton died of a heart attack. RIP.)

24. Black Lips: «Buried Alive»
The inappropriate title aside, this track's perfectly in sync with The Cramps, what with the Tales of the Crypt-like lyrics coupled with wild and jangly raga rock that's as psychedelic as it is garage.

25. Grinderman: «Honey Bee (Let's Fly to Mars)»
Eschewing his high-fallutin' goth poetry and exchanging his piano for the Farfisa organ (which has been the staple of garage rock ever since
? & the Mysterians came out with «96 Tears»), Nick Cave reconnected with his libido and created an album full of scuzzbucket sexual frustration, with former Cramps sticksman Jim Sclavunos beating the skins. Cave's buzzing on this track sounds like a nod to Cramps classic «Human Fly».

26. Megapuss: «A Gun on His Hip and a Rose on His Chest»
The Cramps loved rock’n’roll pioneer Bo Diddley. Here, Devendra Banhart and Greg Rogove take the quintessential Diddley beat (and melody of «The Story of Bo Diddley») and set it to offbeat lyrics—a combination which in another age would've cast this in the category «novelty music». I mean, «Fuck the taxes / In their IRSes / … Fuck the pastors / Touching our baby boys' asses»(!)