Not the first Lux and Ivy compilation reviewed by The Reprobate, nor likely the last, but this does feel like there’s a smidgen of exploitation present. It’s ten years since Lux Interior died, his band The Cramps now being somewhat overshadowed by image appropriation. Perhaps this is no more the case than it ever was, but to release a new double CD of tracks purporting to be beloved of both Lux and his other half seems fanciful to the point of annoying. Equally galling is the surprisingly haphazard nature of this set’s track selection – it feels not so much as a random selection picked from a large record collection as tracks which were available. Fun for a party perhaps, where no-one is awaiting the next song but to listen to from start to finish feels oddly unsatisfying.
The first disc starts in a rather pedestrian manner with a perfunctory harmonica botherer, Don’t Cut Out On Me by Tender Slim, snoozes through track two and only begins to prick the ears on David Hill’s All Shook Up – the first recorded version, several weeks before Elvis hijacked it. Learned readers will recognise that David Hill is the pseudonym of David Hess, songwriter, singer and actor in some of cinema’s most gruelling horror films. Much more in keeping with the Lux and Ivy empire of compilations is Bettye LaVette’s Witchcraft in the Air, though the bubbling cauldron effects can’t mask what is a standard R&B chug-a-thon. It takes two of the most famous names on this set – Eartha Kitt and Bobby Bare, with I’d Rather Be Burned as a Witch and Vampira respectively, to light the fuse, at which point you begin to wonder whether you should have just put together your own mix-tape.
Of course, there are some bona fide gems. J.J. Jackson & The Jackels’ Oo Ma Liddi is a gasping hip-thruster (though cynics even greater than I might point to Norton releases already championing it); The Argentine Orchestra and Singers’ Party Bolero does genuinely feel like a jumble sale oddity you’d pick up for pennies and The Poets’ Dead is an unusual entry in the Fifties horror pop avalanche, clumsy in the way it tries with questionable success to squeeze in lyrics where they clearly don’t fit but creepier than many. Disc one concludes with the immortal Brother Theodore and Berenice (part one), a great advert to explore more of his potty world but jarring in the flow of a compilation.
Disc two is similarly patchworked, the country twang of Jimmy Dawson’s It Took an Older Woman having an endearingly naïve talent show entry quality; Glenn and Christy’s Wombat Twist entertainingly reaching the end of the road with words that you can put before ‘twist’ and Jack Parr’s Blue Wiggle pairing a Ken Nordine-ish baritone with a whistling jauntiness. The Revels’ Dead Man’s Stroll is great, funereal-paced doo-wop, paired with pleasing effect with the almost sub-sonic The Fuzz by Grady Martin. It is two spoken word pieces which stand-out – Milton Feher’s bizarre Walking Without Effort, a guide to, yes, walking and the mighty Ken Nordine himself with Hunger is From, his fridge-raiding masterpiece.
In all, an odd collection in both its original intention and its unthoughtful curation, one can’t help but feel these tracks fit better under separate releases under an entirely different umbrella.