It may come as a compilation from space, but the 15-track rack of ribs from The Cramps entitled Off The Bone combines all their best work into one nearly 45-minute package.
Holding Lux Interior as the dynamic vocalist with more growls than words, more moans than howls, and the three-person line up of Bryan Gregory, Kid Congo Powers, and Poison Ivy Rorschach as the guitarists holds serious walls of sound. Coming around as Nick Knox for the percussion, Off The Bone is a revolting mixture of rockabilly and bordering dive bar backlighting for the cosmic band from the jungle.
Opening with one of their more famous pieces, “Human Fly” has a vocal performance from Lux Interior that is less shocking and more about this primal revival of sound. The instrumentation behind him is a rocking bones chatter of ice in a glass, the constant bump of the bass drum becomes illustrative and immediately gets the muscles jolting.
Lux Interior describes, “Well I’m a human fly, I, I said F-L-Y. I say buzz buzz buzz, and it’s just because. I’m a human fly, and I don’t know why, I got 96 tears and 96 eyes.” As the instrumentation ramps up and becomes more and more congestive, especially when the second verse hits the microphone.
“I got a garbage brain, that’s driving me insane. And I don’t like the ride, so push that pest aside. And baby I won’t care, ’cause baby I don’t scare. Cause I’m a reborn maggot using germ warfare,” he continues on. It is strange, but that signifies the amazing capturing nature of The Cramps. They are the odd, almost too weird for real-life group that moves into the wild west of performance.
Even on the sunset dance styled “The Way I Walk,” the guitars here are the main paint that vividly strokes against the canvas. Standing back from the portrait that appears, the dusted and hollow ground gives The Cramps this edge to them without ever trying too hard. They appear as the natural cowboys that the anti-heroes can even love.
When they aren’t going full force as a rock group, they deliver tracks like “Lonesome Town” that are the epitome of broken ballads. A slow dance instrumental grips the audience tight as the swaying back and forth becomes second nature. The subtle strings coincide with the fragile percussion as Lux Interior carries the performance here as the loudest embodiment.
He shouts, wails, but ultimately turns the audience into this Frankenstein monster of apparitional ghost tales. Something of legend, something of mystery, Off The Bone is the perfect introduction to the jaguars of sound without getting close enough to be eaten alive.