The Cramps: How To Make A Monster

The Cramps: How to make a Monster

The Cramps: How To Make A Monster
Label: Vengeance Records
Release Date: 2004
Review Date: 6/19/06

How to Make a Monster is a two disc collection of early Cramps demos, rehearsals, and live recordings put out by the Cramps’ own label Vengeance Records. It contains a 28 page booklet with a brief history of the origins of the band as written by Lux and Ivy. It also contains lots of early pictures and flyers. The first disc contains the demos and rehearsal recordings. The sound quality varies from track to track to track but they are always interesting to Cramps fans. Some of them sound like the vocals were sung over the top of a (decent) cassette recorded practice. Most tracks are like pupae versions of Cramps favorites, so they are a whole new way to enjoys well worn originals. It’s also interesting to track Lux’s confidence with his delivery. The first 9 tracks were recorded in 1976. Tracks 12-16 were recorded at a 1981 rehearsal and are of noticeably higher quality even though 4 of them are the same song. Tracks 17-19 are demos recorded at proper studio in 1982. 20-23 are demo quality rehearsals from 1988 Track 24 is a bonus medley of a bizzarro birthday wish and some random bits of songs.

Disc two is live performances starting in 1977 at Max’s Kansas City. The sound quality is similar to some of the earlier ones on disc one. The audience is somewhat sparse and appears to be heckling the band somewhat. The next set and second half of the disc is almost exactly a year later from CBGB’s. The sound quality is a bit better and the audience gets into it pretty heavily with horror movie type screams at all appropriate breaks in the choruses. It’s a pretty good effect actually. The back of the disc says that all the tracks are previously unreleased but curiously the liner notes states that 300 copies of the latter show’s set were given away at the 20th anniversary show for CBGB’s.

How To Make A Monster is essential for anyone that is beyond the casual Cramps fan. It provides an aural documentation of the unholy birth of the band and of songs that mutated into the catalog that you’ve grown (or groan) to loveNowadays, not much is weird anymore because it instantly gets disseminated through TV and especially the Internet. How To Make A Monster serves as a good reminder and historical document of just how off the beaten track the Cramps were at the time. The cover art collage is good and the liner notes are sometimes intimate. Speaking of intimate, also of note are the tiny pinups of Miss Ivy. In their own words. “One of the reasons we revived our own label in 2001 was so we could release weird-ass stuff like this. Maybe this compilation will be useful to others as a ‘how-to’ manual‚ A whole two albums of fucked up music – the kind you like!”

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