In 1980 The Cramps followed Gravest Hits (1979) with their first full-length LP Songs The Lord Taught Us.
Nick Knox kicks of the album and T.V.Set launches in primitive style. The track builds and Lux Interior builds his vocal in a controlled but verging on frantic style.
Rock On The Moon (Jimmy Stewart) veers towards pure rockabilly. Lux almost barks in his unique style.
Garbageman pushes the LP into classic album territory as soon as its third track. From its revving start and sharp guitar the song is peppered with fantastic lyrics. One of the best songs The Cramps would ever record. Disagree? You’re wrong.
I Was A Teenage Werewolf shapes the album further still. That primitive beat is back. Poison Ivy and Bryan Gregory steer lush twin guitar streaks our way. The all round sound is sparse but rarely have a band sounded so together.
The track bleeds into Sunglasses After Dark. This equals the brilliance of the preceding track. The two tracks sit so well together that they may as well be married to each other. Elements of Link Wray The Cramps know their stuff. Sublime.
The Mad Daddy tells little stories very well. That stammering vocal style. The band occupy a unique area and its all theirs.
Side Two kicks off with Mystery Plane. It is a slightly weaker song but it sits well on the record.
Zombie Dance is short and again more slight filler than total classic.
What’s Behind The Mask ups the ante immediately. That stark sound. Primitive. Crazed. It’s simplicity is motivation for anyone to try and write a song, you will not match this though, but have fun trying.
Strychnine (a Gerry Roslie cover) like Gravest Hits shows The Cramps can make a cover their own.
I’m Cramped sounds like a guitar trying to dial-up to the Internet in 1980. Another great vocal from Lux.
Tear It Up (another cover) gets more Cramps make-over.
With the final track Fever The Cramps take a classic song and deliver arguably its definitive version. Think about that for a moment. Can you imagine someone covering, say, Heartbreak Hotel and making a more essential version than the Elvis Presley take?
Fever ends the short album. It burns very brightly, “and what a lovely way to burn…”