Off The Bone
Compilation that includes the entirety of the Cramps' first release, the Gravest Hits EP, along with selections from Songs the Lord Taught Us, Psychedelic Jungle, Smell of Female, and a live version of "You Got Good Taste" (shortened here to "Good Taste"). It covers the years 1979-1983, a formative period in the band's long career. Although the bulk of the material consists of covers, you can hardly tell (barring an intimacy with any of the originals). Once the Cramps get hold of a song, they always make it their own -- even the more recognizable numbers like "Surfin' Bird," "Lonesome Town," and "Fever." All benefit from Lux Interior's vocal prowess. He's a proto-punk screamer like Screamin' Jay Hawkins or the Sonics' Gerry Roslie on the rockin' numbers, but can caress a ballad like mid-period Elvis when the need arises. None of the songs sound as if they could possibly have been written anytime after the '60s. Alex Chilton produced the first ten tracks, the Cramps the remaining seven.