Topics: The Cramps, Joy Division, The Smiths, Iggy Pop
Illustrations by Greg Chinn at The Local Brand Co.
The spooky, slinky mashup of rockabilly, punk and garage rock that the Cramps specialized in was truly special and never replicated. They’re the parents of the psychobilly movement, and the chemistry between Poison Ivy, Lux Interior and company built not only a legacy of weird, amazing, beautiful songs, but also a whole world that conjures up ’50s starlets, vampires, hot rods, and the kind of scrappy, DIY punk rarely seen today.
Let’s get the album cover out of the way. The iconic image of a pulsar’s radio waves has become one of the most famous graphics in rock history, and has sold far more t-shirts than the band ever sold records. Their sound, a kind of post-punk / proto-goth rock built for dancing in dark rooms, influenced bands from The Cult to Interpol. Ian Curtis was part doom-and-gloom poet, part futuristic front man, leading the band through a brief but brilliant career. After Curtis’s suicide, the rest of the band would go on to form New Order (another huge influence on the folks behind the Beat).
Sadly, Morrissey has turned out to be a right-wing anti-immigration nut job, but there’s no denying that the 1980s were a decade of brilliance for him, Johnny Marr, and company. Morrissey’s striking voice and persona, combined with Marr’s guitar and the band’s propulsive, rainwater-clear sound made for some of the most important music of the time. With record titles likeThe Queen is Dead and Meat is Murder, a penchant for beautiful young men on their album covers, and their always provocative frontman, they were built to make headlines. And the songs had the depth to back it up.
From lithe, shirtless young sex-thing to lithe, shirtless punk grandpa, Iggy Pop is a rock god. With the Stooges, he defined a sound that would spark punk. As a solo artist, he has been constantly inventive, flirting with glam, classic rock and punk. His mid-70s collaborations with David Bowie produced his classic first solo outings, Lust for Life andThe Idiot.His 1993 outingAmerican Caesarwas like a shot of adrenaline to a flagging rock scene, and 2016’s collaboration with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, Post Pop Depression proved that Iggy has always been, and always will be relevant.