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July 17, 2024

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The Cramps
Fiends Of Dope Island (Vengeance Records)

By: Vinnie Apicella

Aha, so this is where they been hiding out all these years-- the self-professed "Fiends" have been fine tuning their ultra cool, ravishingly revolting brand of bat-music for some five years since their last "Big Beat From Badsville" came out and it's apparent they've re-emerged not only the worse for wear, but with that much more ability to wear thin the patience of Rock aficionados everywhere. All is said in only the most endearing terms however, and if not for their outrageous get ups and horror-flick personas, they'd easily be the greatest band the outside world's ever known. As it is they're without a doubt the greatest underground act still running 25 years after it all started. "Fiends Of Dope Island" is vintage Cramps -- but then again, so are all of their records -- they remain unscathed by outside influence and accepted their fate as true tormentors of popular trends since they first began wielding the whip all those years ago. From the ominous moments of "Big Black Witchcraft Rock," to the groovin' "Hang Up," the voracity of "Elvis Fucking Christ" or the smooth chill of "Taboo," we're running the dark path between sex, drugs, debauchery, and Great Balls of Fire times three, with a number of ill-intended one liners and a well-spring of gratuitous nonsense for another good measure of "bad music" for those in their grip. Having just recently grabbed back their early catalog and re-released it in 2001 on their Vengeance label, "Fiends" is a point to prove for critics and passersby that no one is safe from the swarm of sarcasm and sinister intent from this thematical romp through the recesses of damp swamps and dead brain cells. Aside from three well placed covers, including Jerry Reed's "Oowee Baby," and think country & western caped in black clouds, blood-curdling, and booze, it's a thirteen song tribute to the dead of night, the walking dead, and the devil, with a quick two-step stopover on their grave of choice. Never before has a record been more fun to listen and/or follow along to, a rare commodity for a forty-something band of misfits still off on the idea of merging the occult with obnoxious F-laced gratuity and leopard skins.
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