Journey To The Centre Of The Cramps
Dick Porter (Omnibus)
The challenge facing this book is the challenge facing the Cramps: when you have made your definitive statement with your opening salvo, what do you do for the rest of your career? Reading Porter’s comprehensive overview of the adventures of Lux and Ivy sent me scurrying back to that great AlexChilton-produced quartet of singles that spewed forth between 1978 and 1980. Which still sound great, as they should – I learnt from this book that the first LP cost $18,000 to record! As Dolly Parton might have said, it costs a lot of money to sound this cheap. Porter has good access to the principals – no cut and paste trawl through the archives here – and both Erick Lee Purkhiser (Lux) and Kirsty Marlana Wallace (Ivy) are particularly interesting when discussing their early years and how they met. At the heart of the Cramps is a love story, both between Lux and Ivy and between them and the artefacts they revere – old records, vintage sleaze, ultra low-budget movies. The book does get bogged down as it documents the repeated cycle of lose rhythm section / stop gigging / get dropped by record company / find new rhythm section / start gigging / sign new record deal / make an LP. Lux’s unexpected death in 2009 brings the book to a sudden stop: more thoughts about context and influence could have provided a more natural conclusion. This is a good book if you want to find out facts about the Cramps : the discography of both official and unofficial releases is particularly comprehensive and there are a few amusing anecdotes along the way. What it doesn’t do is answer the question: Why?