If it’s possible for a band whose lead singer dresses in red PVC and invites the audience to spank his butt at regular intervals to be considered elder statesmen, then Lux Interior and the Cramps are elder statesmen. Interior and his partner Poison Ivy Rorschach (the rhythm section basically consists of hired hands) have been purveying their brand of thrash-abilly for nearly thirty years; while they never received much airplay, their influence currently enlivens the airwaves in the music of the White Stripes.
It’s not like they’ve changed much since 1975. Yes, they now have a bassist (although current bassist Chopper Franklin appears to have been hired for his pompadour and sideburns), but the songs from their latest album, “Fiends of Dope Island” (Vengeance), basically follow the template set on their first, “Songs the Lord Taught Us” — rudimentary rhythms; twangy guitars borrowed from Duane Eddy, Dick Dale and Link Wray (“Color Me Black” quotes directly from “Rumble”); and Interior’s undead Elvis vocal stylings, filtered through an E.C. Comics/”Tales From the Crypt,” ironically cheesy B-movie sensibility.
Performed with huge amounts of brio, it’s all great good fun. Rorschach has become a fine guitarist, and Harry Drumdini pounds the skins with a primal fervor. As front man, Interior enjoys himself immensely; he may just be our Screaming Jay Hawkins, or if he ever wants to give up music, replace Elvira as the host of a schlock-horror movie show. Some bands might view playing on Friday the 13th with a full moon as ominous omens; for the Cramps, it was just another day at the office.