28/09/2019: “Human Fly” by The Cramps

The Cramps were easily one of the biggest pioneers to come out the punk scene. Not only within punk itself, but for the darker, morbid direction they took it. Eventually, this culminated in the wacky and creepy psychobilly scene.

The Cramps certainly have real punk pedigree. They were one of the bands playing at the CBGB bar in the mid-70s, which is pretty much as punk as you can get.

Naturally, their fashion and music styles are somewhat unorthodox. The thing which distinguishes the Cramps from other punk bands at the time, and the thing which resulted in their attaining cult status as the leaders of psychobilly.

“Human Fly” is a slower track than many contemporaneous punk tunes, but have more than enough grit. The twanging rockabilly guitar sets a sinister tone, playing a very simple riff with a delay and some other effect.

The low end is very muddy. I think it might by a bass guitar played with a lot of distortion, and maybe another guitar on top. It sounds great to me though!

The drums are splashy in sound, but add a relentless thump to the track.

Of course, the lyrics are as weird in content as they are in delivery – there’s a horror theme to proceedings.

The tune came out first in 1978, as a single. You can also find it on the 1979 E.P. Gravest Hits, although it was probably most famous because of the Off The Bone singles compilation album, released in 1983.

07/11/2018: “Little Red Riding Hood” by The Meteors

The Meteors are often viewed as the band who really cemented and defined the genre of psychobilly. If you don’t know, psychobilly is a movement that derives a lot from punk, but strongly bases itself on the 50s Rockabilly scene.

Think Elvis but if he was a punk…

There’s a variety of styles within the genre, from more straight sounding rockabilly stuff, to ripping punk horror shows.

The Meteors are decidedly of the latter type. Their sound is abrasive, dark, and raw.

“Little Red Riding Hood” is probably a song you’ve heard of. But not like this. The original version was done by Sam The Sham and the Pharoahs in 1966. It’s a typically 60s thing, which feels wholesome despite the lyrics.

The new lyrics themselves were written by Ronald Blackwell, and recast the Wolf of legendary as a man with bad intentions, posing as a sheep to walk a girl home, but being increasing unable to hide his predatory nature.

The Meteors’ version is aggressive and black hearted, with a gritty twang that gives away the rockabilly influence. It’s got the same melody as the Sam The Sham version, but the energy levels are significantly higher. Everything is cranked up to 11.

The growling, spitting vocals are perfect for a song lie this, and the eerie distorted country guitars solidify the menacing vibe even more.

The song was released as a single on the B side of “Stampede” in 1985.

Brilliantly dark!