The Cramps - How to Make a Monster

"As I mentioned before, there are vast swathes of this cd set that have been recorded using only the very worst equipment available. "

 

 

How to Make a Monster – The Cramps

 

If you are a casual fan or a wannabe Cramps addict, I feel that I have a duty in warning you that this cd set features recordings of truly appalling, Neanderthal-level sound quality. I suppose that young readers who can't remember the taped bootleg will be able to learn about the intense aural pain that was suffered, (mostly when using headphones to maximise what quality there was), and the saint like patience that was required when listening to these things. But apart from that, I'd advise you to start elsewhere if your record collection needs Cramps material. This is most definitely one for the fans.

 

Having said all that, it's a bloody good compilation, compiling stuff from the band's subterranean beginnings, from hapless demos and practise sessions with ever changing drummers, through indifferent and cynical audiences, to cult acclaim.

 

As I mentioned before, there are vast swathes of this cd set that have been recorded using only the very worst equipment available. This is especially true of the two gigs on offer, both to be found on disc two; one from Max's Kansas City in 1977 and a later performance at CBGB's in early '78. Here you will experience those bootleg delights of inane audience chatter, piss-weak guitar sound and cardboard flat drumming; not to mention strange hisses and odd bleeps.

 

But there is always the consolation of feeling (however minutely) the undoubted excitement of a band playing live. The Max's gig spits determination in the face of a disinterested audience; the undoubted highlight being a great rendition of "Domino". The police will no doubt be glad to hear evidence of a drugs deal being contracted by certain members of the crowd. Maybe they could use it in a training tape or something. The second gig, at CBGB's is a lo-fi classic, with the band thumping out a great set. Stuff like "The Way I Walk" and "I was a Teenage Werewolf" sound tough and much more streamlined.

 

Disc one is mainly material culled from rehearsals, some of which date slightly later than the Jurassic. Despite the ever unedifying sound quality, it's a great listen, especially a brilliantly bad run through on "Rumble Blues" which takes my (newly created) 'Crappest and Most Drugged up Rehearsal of All Time' award.

 

A final note should be reserved for the great booklet, which gives a very clear insight into the history of the band. It's all quite inspiring stuff, and almost had me reaching for a can of hairspray (got to get that quiff just-so, after all.) Interesting stuff.