1983 – I.R.S
Garage Rock/ Punk/ Psychobilly
NOTE: I am reviewing the full length album version of Smell Of Female and not the original EP length cut. The mix is the same for both versions, but the full length has three extra tracks added to the listing which were all recorded live at the same time as the others.
Psychobilly rockers The Cramps’ first live record Smell Of Female is a wonderful return to the fuzzy, sleazy, garage rock styling of Songs The Lord Taught Us with its exciting live energy and muddy playing. Really, I think this might be the most interesting thing this band has come up with since their debut album. I mean, beginning with The Most Exalted Potentate Of Love were are instantly hit with the alluring danger that forms the core of what this group is all about, and the record from here does not fail to disappoint as it continues delivering throbbing hit after pulsating hit.
The guitars screech and scream with their echoing reverb amplified by the acoustics of the venue, and Interior’s voice on this record is on full form with his deviant sexuality being flung into the face of the listener and the audience like some kind of secretly desired disease. Really I think the live record is the perfect medium for a band like The Cramps as it really seems to let them get worked up into the real gone frenzy that their studio albums so often aim for but miss just that little bit. I mean tracks like Call Of The Wighat and I Ain’t Nuthin But A Gorehound are just so loud and intense that it really is hard to deny their raw charm, and their beats are all just so solid that it’s incredibly difficult not to get up on your feet and dance. The addition of Kid Congo Powers (of The Bad Seeds fame) on rhythm guitar was also nice to hear, as it helps to flesh out the music and create a real wall of noise that the listener can latch onto and rock out with. Really, everything on this record just works so well and achieves what it’s trying to, which is a definite treat after listening to their more mediocre A Date With Elvis.
I will say, however, that the intensity of this record can tend to get a bit too much towards the end. I mean, as great as all this live energy and psychotic raving is, it would have been nice to have been given some sort of breathing space at some point. Perhaps a better use of crowd interaction rather than straight cuts between tracks, or maybe the inclusion of one of the band’s slower tune, but really I just found myself wanting some respite from the assaulting madness. There is, I suppose, a small amount of this during the beginning of the band’s glorious cover of Hasil Adkin’s She Said, but it didn’t really last long enough for me to catch my breath before it fully launched headfirst into this insane little number.
Overall, however, with the record only running for nine tracks in total this wasn’t the biggest issue in the world and I did find myself having a great deal of fun with it all. I mean, there’s just so much frantic energy on this album that it’s hard not to have at least a little bit of good time, and it didn’t even get sleazy enough to really turn anyone off. I can’t say that it’s one of the greatest albums of all time, but it definitely has its merits and it might be the best record if you really wanted to get to grips with what The Cramps have to offer. So, in conclusion I would heartily recommend giving it a spin if you ever get the chance, and I would also suggest it as the perfect thing if you ever want to spice up your dinner parties.
And here is the band’s brilliant cover version of the Hasil Adkin track She Said.
- A Date With Elvis – The Cramps (ljfacesthemusic.wordpress.com)
- Gravest Hits – The Cramps (ljfacesthemusic.wordpress.com)
- Songs The Lord Taught Us – The Cramps (ljfacesthemusic.wordpress.com)
- Gonna Ball – Stray Cats (ljfacesthemusic.wordpress.com)