Songs Lux'n'Ivy Taught Me

Monsters crampin yer style
V/A: Songs Lux & Ivy Taught Us [.zip]

This is a comp I think you toilet guppies would love the most. This blog has no genre specific profile, but I know some of you like music that's part of some social history or greater cultural context, while some of you like good time rock'n'roll, and some the escape of novelty music. Some of you like the bizarre, and there are those among you who can't get enough of the perverse. And then there's a bunch of you who just like the safe and plain quirky.

Of course, quirky music is only ever good despite being quirky. All the tracks on this collection are valid for some reason beyond wretched cutesiness. And they're not just pop culture references. This stuff isn't
novelty music. It's not fodder for your nostalgia, nor a target for your irony. This is by turns mean, fun, funny, nasty, clever, raunchy, sad, wilfully stupid, inadvertently profound and in every way evocative music. Often incompetently (or at least over-zealously) played, quite frequently silly and occasionally carefree, this is a decent playlist for parties, but the perfect palliative for bad days. When you no longer feel like waiting for the proverbial bus that may hit you tomorrow, touchy-feely singer/songwriter fare or uncompromising experimental music only helps digging a deeper hole. What you need is sex, fun and humour—which, incidentally, is what this comp is made of.

Before the retro stylings of Quentin Tarantino, and David Lynch even—around the time «Pope of Trash» John Waters was the most clever American filmmaker spreading the pulp/exploitation gospel—were the Cramps. Hell, I don't need to tell you about the Cramps. Suffice it to say, their core duo of Poison Ivy Rorschach and Lux Interior were avid collectors of '50s and '60s trash. Their impeccable bad taste has been documented on such compilations as Songs the Cramps Taught Us (volumes 1 to 5), the 14 volume(!) Lux & Ivy's Favorites series, Black Christmas, The Cramps' Jukebox, The Roots of the Cramps and the Bad Music for Bad People—Songs the Cramps Taught Us anthology. That's a whole lot of music, even considering the overlaps.

The bulk of the Cramps' influences is in inferior sound quality. If being cheaply recorded and produced in the 1950s and '60s weren't gritty enough, many of the songs are non-restored vinyl transfers of probably original pressings, all crackle and hiss. That is as it should be—rock'n'roll was never about polish (not until the 1980s, anyway)—but on the sizeable Lux & Ivy's Favorites and the Christmas album, the injured fidelity on most of the tracks is further insulted by a miserably low bit rate. So for the songs I liked, I went CD and mp3 hunting. Nothing here has a bit rate below 192 kbps.

In selecting from such a large pool of recordings I needed criteria: There's none of the tracks I already knew of, none of the artists I'd already heard of and no '60s garage rock (of which I'm far too obsessive a collector already). Thus I was left with material refreshing to this blog: Original '50s rock, the rockabilly that wasn't too naff (that country rhythm is embarrassing!), sci-fi/schlock horror Hallowe'en novelty songs, the kind of surf instrumentals that were precursors to speed metal, absurd (and sometimes unsettling) doo-wop, faux-ethnographical exotica, ol-R'n'B, and at least one blues number played by a preacher. Hundreds of songs were whittled down to an eclectic mix of 27 largely forgotten obscurities that don't deserve to be so.

There are delightful surprises at every turn. Pure joy of sound and energy. A lot of creativity and imagination, from a time before obese fame and fortune imbued most music with the spirit of narcissistic ambition and an unashamed selfishness that has little or nothing to do with the spontaneous, mystical energy once at the core of music, long since replaced by the brittle weaknesses inherent in the egos of whores more focused on photo shoots and hairdos than anything to do with sincerity, humility, beauty or truth, near killing the prehistoric impulse of soulful expression with not even money, just their own petty need for validation. Children fantasising alone in front of the mirror, destined one day to die empty idiots without insight, more stupid at the end than in the beginning, having learnt nothing from this life and only deserving pointless deaths. May the hurts of mainstream and «indie» artists alike feed our deepest pleasures evermore! Music is a contract between musician and listener, except that most performers don't even remotely mean with any kind of sincerity the emotions they manipulate in you, just so you'll fork over your cash (and adoration) for their product. You've been gypped, mate, but it wasn't always like this. Back when the financial, hedonistic and social rewards weren't flabby and obscene, it wasn't uncommon for musicians and songwriters to make music out of a genuine impulse. Which is one of the reasons the songs in this compilation work so well.

Not that this is worthwhile music because «they don't make music like they used to.» (There's always great contemporary stuff—even if you have to sift through the waste products of an entire industry that encourages the self-obsession of pretty and vacant dunces dribbling feelings about as relevant as their thoughts are insightful.) And this music isn't good because it reminds us of a time we're too young to even remember—that we can only fantasise about, imagining what the good old days must surely have been like, the music supposedly reflecting the innocent times we're foolish to even yearn for. There never were any «good old days». (Besides, if you listen a little more closely, you'll find this music is anything but innocent.) These songs are just good, period. Enjoy it already—and for all the right reasons: There
isn't a pretentious moment on the whole mp3 album. Just a journey through the weird and wonderful so wonderful you realise it's not really weird, after all.

So, take a quick dip in Rorschach and Interior's magical time capsule. Laugh, cry, dance, fuck. And if you like what you hear, enjoy this extra little comp I've uploaded just for you. Trust me, it's a doozy…

1 comment:

  1. Lurved the first one, so I'm going for seconds and getting the extra doozy. Thanks man, much appreciated!