Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Cramps


1978.

I was 21 in my first all-original band. [That's me front far right with the faux fro.] We called ourselves “Free Trim.” Ironically, the name was not prophetic. We were influenced by Steely Dan and The Beatles, but you'd never know it from this one. Cramps was written by my brother (lead guitar and sometimes keys) and the singer rhythm / guitarist back when they were an acoustic duo in '75.

The lyric tells a true story from the life of their friend “Beauchamp.” (The nickname eventually morphed into “Cramps.”) The “A” section of the song is either a deliberate or accidental rewrite of “California Girls.” I didn’t notice back then, so I never asked. The keyboard player was the most adroit musician in the group. He arranged the track, and if I remember correctly lent a hand with the bass part. I think he noticed the nick from The Beach Boys and ran with it on the intro, mixing it up with some live Lou Reed. We threw everything into this one except for a Cathy Berberian roulade. Once the “B” section kicks in, (the part where our hapless protagonist works up the gumption to approach the barfly) it becomes clear that we had been digging some Joe Jackson as well. (I remember my brother came into rehearsal one night and told the story of how he heard “Sunday Papers” and couldn’t believe that Steve Miller was capable of making such a great record!)

I don't know if you can tell from this recording, but the drummer in The Trim was the shit. There isn't a kick pattern on the planet that he couldn't play. He could find the pocket on a billiard table. He made me sound good.

Over the years this song was reworked in about 4 different ways. This is not the best version, but I think it is the most interesting. It reveals both the band’s ambition and its fatal flaw, which was the fact that we over-arranged our songs to the point of absurdity. Still, we had a lot of fun and I can’t help but wax nostalgic for the days when I honestly believed that I could make it big in music. Check out the little Beatles nod on the outro.

Click here to listen to “Cramps,” recorded live in our rehearsal studio in 1978.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice 'fro

Lord De Minimus

12:49 PM  
Blogger Bobby Lightfoot said...

Is nnnniiice. Allman-ish, and th' singer is sort of a downhome Daltry. Dig that California Girls intro and th' Ventura Freeway shuffle of the intro.

Hey, what's the keyboard? Sounds like a Hohner Pianet or something.

8:18 PM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Hey, what's the keyboard? Sounds like a Hohner Pianet or something.

Ah, it is the Rhodes bastard step-child of an electric piano: The Wurlizter. It looked something like this...

6:41 AM  

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