In the world of garage punk there was no one like them. Like a Colossus they straddled genres and crossed over garnering fans all through the alternative rock world. I still feel a sense of loss now that they are gone, and similar to the Clash and the Ramones, their albums have served to be the soundtrack to my life. However instead of going over old ground and posting albums that most of us will have I thought I’d go down the less trodden path of the compilations that have been made in homage to them.
First up is the rather eclectic ‘Goddamn RocknRoll’ compilation that has a global line up on it. It most definitely serves to highlight just how far and wide the influence of the Cramps crept over the years.
The second is a more recent release by Texan band The Flametrick Subs. A band who very obviously sipped from the cup of Lux and Ivy. If this rings your bell then I would urge you to go out and buy anything else they have released. Primal rock and roll always sounds good, but sometimes some bands just do it better and these guys are one of those bands.
The last has a tenuous link to the Cramps but I reckon some people would happily buy me a pint for posting it. It’s the Fur Bible ep that featured Kid Congo Powers on vocals.
I recently went to see Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds playing a gig in Glasgow. A damn good night that apart from featuring tracks from his current and forthcoming albums also had a run through of Gun Club and Cramps tracks. If anyone is interested I can up the review from it. Just leave a request in the comments.
Okay. No one asked for the review, but yer gettin' it. :)
Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds - Soundhaus (26/11/09)
My name is Kid….and I am from Mars……
It sometimes felt that this was the gig that was never to be.
It’s a tale of double bookings, incompetent local promoters and a hero who rode in to snatch victory from the jaws of ineptitude.
It all started as these things often do as a random run of events.
I slipped on Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds latest platter and midway through giving it a spin thought ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if the band were to play Glasgow’.
That thought rattled about inside my head for a while. An itch that I couldn‘t scratch.
So I let my fingers do the walking across the keyboard only to find serendipitously that the band were indeed playing.
Coincidence? Kismet? Does it really matter?
Then when I read on my initial excitement was cruelly dashed.
Kid Congo was explaining that due to a double booking at the Captains Rest the band were without a venue for the gig and the show was in the lap of the gods.
I rushed off a message to the band throwing a Glasgow promoters name forward in the hope that a last minute salvage job could be worked out.
CJ of ’The Tragic City Thieves’ jumped aboard and frantically called around looking for a venue to host the band. Unfortunately, just like Joseph and Mary in the lead up to little baby Jesus being born, there were no doors open to him and he came up empty.
It wasn’t looking good.
Then out of the blue a bulletin appeared on myspace. A new venue was secured and it was happening.
Details were sketchy.
All I knew was that the show was going ahead in the Soundhaus and the doors would open at 10pm.
That was enough. The bare bones is all you need. Everything else is just meat.
On arriving KelC and myself were the first in the door and my paranoid self jumped forward laughing and whispering that no one was going to turn up and the gig would be cancelled.
Then the hero of the hour stepped forward, a guy name Alan, and introduced himself.
This was the fella who sorted everything out last minute. Not a promoter, or a chancer looking to make a quick buck, but a simple fan.
The whole night was his baby from start to finish and everyone who was there owes this guy a drink. Fuck it. I’d buy him two simply for reaffirming my faith in the goodness of people.
There is a small feeder bar/chill out room adjacent to where the bands play and it is in here we are ushered for a pre gig DJ set.
The sounds hit the spot.
From classic 60s R and B to the some proto punk rock with a bit of Bo Diddley telling us he’s a gunslinger, it was all good, and as the time drew closer to Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds playing we were treated to a plundering of tracks from ’Songs the Cramps taught us’.
By now my negative outlook on the attendance figures was slipping away as people started to crowd the bar.
Two acquaintances arrived from my home town. Christ knows how Gav and Billy found out about it, but including ourselves that was four brave souls from deepest darkest Ayrshire that had made it.
Not bad for a place that thinks jungle drums are at the cutting edge of communication technology.
The crowd swelled some more and this was a testament to Kid Congos pulling powers as there was barely any time to promote this show. A good portion must have been there through word of mouth alone.
We finish our drinks and head in for showtime.
It’s only a couple of minutes before The Pink Monkey Birds wander through the crowd and take to the stage resplendent in their mariachi suits. A sense of anticipation ripples through the crowd and Kid Congo joins them.
I had a preconceived idea that as a front man he may have been workmanlike, possibly even a tad uncomfortable assuming the role of focal point for a band, but I was so wrong.
Kid Congo controls the stage. Up front is where he should be. He has the mojo going on.
Psychedelic garage is pumped out and we are lapping it up.
By the time they reach ‘I found a Peanut’ from ‘Dracula Boots’ everyone is singing along.
The band are weaving magic up there on the stage and the audience are spellbound. Events become blurred. Kid Congo tells us that they already have a new album finished.
It’s coming out early next year and we should watch out for it being released as five seven inch singles. They give us a taster by playing a song that may or may not have been called ’When I was a punk’. A track that is blisteringly good.
As would be expected there was a strong contingent of Cramps fans in the audience and they were in a lather when Kid dedicated ’I’m Cramped' to the memory of Lux before following that on with the Gun Clubs ‘For the love of Ivy’.
Someone leaned in and said that it doesn’t get any better than this. I think he was being specific, but when I agreed I was meaning the gig in its totality. The covers, or audience pleasers if you want to call them that didn’t overshadow the bands own material at all. The quality of the show started on a high and refused to dip throughout regardless of where the songs played came from.
For me this year has been one of the best ever for gigs and this one has just rocketed into the top five.
The cover of Ronnie Cook and the Gaylads Goo Goo Muck finished me off.
In hindsight the Captains Rest couldn’t have handled this and the larger Soundhaus was a far better option.
I’m tired now. I’m emotional. I’ve waited a long time to see this guy and his band and my high expectations were more than matched.
There are more UK dates and then they are crawling through mainland Europe. So don’t be square daddio and make it your mission in life to catch one of the gigs. You will not be disappointed.