Monday, 14 September 2015

The Cramps Live at Napa State Mental Hospital

Somebody told me you people are crazy, but I’m not sure about that…you seem to be alright to me”… I’ve been nursing a Cramps obsession for the last few days, and yesterday revisited Target Video’s The Cramps Live at Napa State Mental Hospital, from 1978 - perhaps the single greatest live album title in rock music. I’ll have to consult Dick Porter’s 2015 biography Journey to the Centre of the Cramps to find out the whys and wherefores of the band playing before an audience of psychiatric patients, but a late afternoon’s worth of rockabilly seems to have done them no harm. “We’re The Cramps and we’re from New York city… and we drove 3,000 miles to play for you people” announces Lux Interior before belting thru a 20min set of supercharged chugging rhythms, slashed guitar noise and voodoo hillbilly vocals. The show was filmed in b/w on rudimentary video equipment (Andrew Bujalski of Computer Chess fame eat your heart out) and despite the muddy visuals and some rough editing (some stretches of footage are clearly repeated), it’s a fantastic document of early Cramps. As for the audience, it appears a handful of punks were present but hard to tell them apart from the patients, the setup frequently descends into anarchy with spectators bumping against the cameraman, invading the stage and taking over vocal duties before Lux wrests control back. For a full derangement of the senses, watch this one alongside Titicut Follies

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