YOU GOT GOOD TASTE! The Very Best of The Cramps’ Album/Single Covers

By Neve Robinson

Good lord, I love the Cramps (like any respectable Bad Girl Should). They’re hyper-sexualised, no holds barred, grimy punk perfection. Shit loads of leopard print, shit loads of leather, shit loads of stillettos. Endearingly sleazy. To love the Cramps is to celebrate one’s own filth in all its grungy glory. And what better way to pay tribute to the kings and queen of camp than to traverse through their endless library of excellent album covers? Featuring predominantly the blisteringly beautiful Poison Ivy herself, these covers are some of the most iconic of their genre, and epitomize everything the Cramps are about. Here are ten of their best album or single artworks, from the bootleg to the bikini-clad girls with machine guns in hand…

10 THE CRAMPS / BOOTLEG ALBUM: TALES FROM THE CRAMPS / 1977-79

This comic book-esque cover for an amalgamation of their earlier works is a belter. The muted colour palette and art are reminiscent of slightly later punk album cover artists like Raymond Pettibon, who did the Sonic Youth Goo cover and some of the Black Flag covers. I also really enjoy the idea of them knocking around a graveyard with a fuck-off spotty guitar. BIG fan.

9. SMELL OF FEMALE

This is definitely one of their most iconic covers, and I absolutely love the seedy sex show vibes – not to mention those to-die-for crushed velvet scarlet gloves. My only qualm, and completely unintentionally so I’m sure, is that it reminds me far too much of that XXX sex shop that got knocked down recently on Tib Street, Manchester. Perhaps brings down the immersion of a late seventies sextravaganza of the cover when I’m just thinking of a drunken urination spot in NQ.

8. LOOK MOM NO HEAD!

What a name, what an album. Iggy Pop’s feature on Miniskirt Blues makes this a record you can’t forget. Set in a sinister house of mirrors, we get multiple Ivys necking multiple wines. You love to see it, really. It’s a little less sleazy than some of their other covers though, and I like a bit of filth in my punk single/album art. Maybe if she had a weapon or a bikini of sorts it would be a bit campier and more appealing to me. I’m easy to please (or sleaze).

7. WHAT’S INSIDE A GIRL?

The single cover to What’s Inside A Girl? really shows us, erm, well, what’s inside a girl. Lux’s x-ray eyes gives us a cracking view of Ivy’s pelvis, something I’ve always wanted to take a gander at. All jokes a side, while it’s a pretty paint-by-numbers cover, I do like the campiness. I can see this being a pretty cool advert on a billboard, you know? Or maybe in a doctor’s office…

6. FIENDS OF DOPE ISLAND

Their final album bears a cracking cover. Lux looks like a sort of Nosferatu character – incredibly intimidating and yet undeniably sexy, I shan’t lie. I’d love a black vinyl pressing of this record, it looks like it’s been fished out of the Black Lagoon. I really think it is emblematic of that gothic side that the Cramps capitalised on in their later years, and reminiscent of old horror films of yore. Big into it.

5. DATE WITH ELVIS

Oh, yes. Now we are talking. Probably their most iconic album, A Date With Elvis gives us the most 70s pornography-feel cover of the bunch, really. It looks straight off the back of a seedy VHS found in the 18+ section of the local offy, and I love that. The satin background makes me want to reach out and stroke it. Satanic symbolism never looked so sexy!

4. FLAMEJOB

A nineties record, Flamejob is by no means their best work, even it is rather impressively produced by Interior and Ivy themselves. However, the impressiveness of this cover is undeniable. A sleek all-PVC number with killer stillettos and flamethrower? The polished power of this stance sticks in the mind, that’s exactly what you need from album art, surely – even if Mean Machine is one of the only tracks really worth a damn on it.

3. STAY SICK!

Have you ever seen a sexier cover? It’s raw, it’s animalistic, it’s sexually perverse and SICK!!! The zebra print really makes this record pop and amps up the camp. Ivy’s hair style is particularly fabulous in that this is arguably their most psychobilly record (even featuring a cover of Elvis’ Jailhouse Rock), and she has the 50’s rockabilly pinup girl hair down to a T. 12/10.

2. CAN YOUR PUSSY DO THE DOG?

Well? Can it? One of the sexiest songs by The Cramps surely deserves one of their sexiest covers, and Can Your Pussy Do The Dog? does not disappoint. The illustrations are almost cave paintings and primal, which more than fits our tiger girl and her incredible striped suit. I would KILL for an outfit like this, seriously. The colours are completely clashing and yet somehow completely work. Here kitty kitty, you better move along…

1. BIKINI GIRLS WITH MACHINE GUNS

Ah yes, the magnum opus of Cramps covers. Truly a sight to behold. It has everything one could want from a punk record’s cover really – a badass woman wearing a badass sequin bikini with a badass machine gun in hand. And don’t even get me started on that lush wallpaper. If they sold this in B&Q, that would be well plastered in my living room let me tell you. From the beloved aforementioned Stay Sick, this single cover more than packs a punch and does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s bold, it’s beautiful, it’s bloody cool. I don’t need to say much more on the matter other than that I am simply desperate to be this woman. The Cramps forever and ever, man.

Rockstars And The Rainbow Connection: Some of The Best Musical Appearances on The Muppet Show

© The Muppet Show, 1980

By Neve Robinson

Ah, The Muppet Show. Beloved by everyone from the freshest of flowers to those in the same age bracket as Statler and Waldorf, The Muppets have a strangely appealing quality that spans across well – everyone, really. It’s no surprise then, that from the 1976-1981 original run of the show to even modern Muppet iterations today, even the most golden of musical glitterati couldn’t resist getting involved with the fuzzy friends. Having been host to the likes of Dave Grohl, Charles Aznavour, Harry Belafonte and Weezer, the puppets have performed alongside a smorgasbord of incredible and random guests over the years. Here’s a few of the best fabulously bizarre moments that two entertainment worlds collided over, erm, frog and pig puppets.

Elton John

In 1977, the bonafide king of glam rock and all things fabulously flamboyant graced The Muppet Show stage by playing his classic croon Crocodile Rock in- you guessed it – a swamp filled with crocodiles. In Kermit’s best-selling tell-all autobiography (the greatest autobiography since the likes of Nelson Mandela’s, arguably)  Before You Leap, Kermit states that his mother booked Elton John into the local theatre. While there, Kermit’s mother of course introduced John to the crocodile that inspired “Crocodile Rock.” I think Bernie Taupin was probably in that swamp too, you know. Why didn’t The Electric Mayhem play on more John records?

Joan Jett

Punk princess Joan Jett of The Runaways and The Blackhearts fame produced probably her greatest musical offering yet (and from a legend like her, that’s saying something) when she collaborated with The Muppets in 2016 to sing Bad Reputation. When Miss Piggy suffers a scandalous wardrobe malfunction, the network that The Muppets are represented by is outraged, and Piggy is forced to question everything she stands for. By the end of the episode, Jett helps Piggy remember her worth and empowers her – who cares if the public sees your pig tail, right? And who better to teach Miss Piggy to not give a f*ck than the queen of not giving a f*ck herself. #UnveilTheTail, man.

Debbie Harry

It’s hard to think of anything cooler and more iconic than Blondie bombshell Deborah Harry. But then I remembered that she dueted with Kermit The Frog in 1980, and the result was glorious. Beyond glorious. Here she is singing a favourite childhood song of mine and millions of others, The Rainbow Connection, but she also sang her own classics like Call Me and One Way Or Another. In the episode, Kermit’s unbearably cute nephew Robin’s Scout Troop visit the show and ask Debbie for her help in earning their “punk merit badges”. I’m still hoping to earn mine one day…

Alice Cooper

Make no mistake, there is nothing more shock-rock in the world than erm, singing puppets. Alice Cooper proved this point in his 1978 Muppet Show appearance, claiming to be an agent of the Devil and a Faustian character trying to strike a deal with The Muppets for their souls. After all, I think we can all agree that Kermit has much more soul, personality and good morals than most living souls these days. I can understand why Cooper fancied pinching our favourite Amphibian-American’s. Here he is performing School’s Out. I bet headteacher Sam The Eagle feels a right daft sod now.

Arlo Guthrie

1979 saw son of Woody, folk star Arlo Guthrie, play some of his greatest hits on a farm-themed Muppet stage (mainly from his 1976 record, Amigo). Normally, Guthrie would lend his voice to songs of human rights struggles and social justice ballads. I’d argue that the plight of The Swedish Chef looking for something to cook for a family meal other than his chicken counterparts is…sort of a social issue. Starvation? Maybe? I don’t know if these puppets even have digestive systems, but I digress.

Paul Simon

Paul Simon is arguably the cutest human on Earth. That’s just a fact. So what could be more wholesome than our sunshiney king singing with the cutest puppets on earth?! 1980 blessed us with an episode dedicated to the Simon & Garfunkel folk trailblazer, as he helped Gonzo learn to improve on his songwriting. Though personally, I find Gonzo’s lyricism quite inspiring. “For youuu… I’d wash my hair with stinky glue, I’d fry my legs and eat them too, I’d put a spider in my shoe — for yoouuuu!” I hope one day someone writes a song for me that’s so rich with romantic sentiment.

Johnny Cash

Probably one of the most famous Muppets guests, in 1980 a country-themed episode played host to the iconic Johnny Cash. Cash dueted with Rowlf the dog in Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog, a song surprisingly not written just for the purpose of singing one day an anthropomorphic hound, but rather actually performed live at the famous Folsom Prison concert by Cash. Rowlf ended up taking great offence to the lyrics within, though Cash assured him it was in jest. I think Cash’s greatest beef was probably with a puppet dog, you know. He was a fairly agreeable guy by all accounts. Well, unless you’re Waylon Jennings of The Highway Man. If you’re interested…

Prince

Muppets Tonight treated us to a 1997 cameo from the dearly missed Prince, and what a cameo that it was. He was known as his symbol at this time, so he’s referred to chiefly as ‘The Artist Formerly Known As Prince’. Behold, as TAFKAP creates a song made from the Commissary menu of the hotel he’s staying in. Not sure why he plumps for this rather than Raspberry Sorbet, but I’m not complaining; this is a bonafide banger.

Dolly Parton

Good golly, Miss Dolly! Now here is a Muppet icon in her own right. Dolly Parton is the definition of a country legend (and, of course, an inspiration to the equally pink and fabulous blonde bombshell Miss Piggy herself). Muppet Magazine, a respected publication on a par with the one you are currently privy to, crowned Ms Parton an Honorary Muppet in 1986. She has collaborated with the Muppets many times, most recently in 2012 singing Islands In The Stream with Kermit as her Kenny Rogers. I’ve attached a clip from the 1987 Dolly show, so technically this isn’t a Muppets appearance. But it’s far too iconic to not include. I think Dolly and Kermit make quite the fetching couple, don’t you?

David Byrne

Okay, okay, so this isn’t quite a cameo as such. Talking Heads frontman Byrne isn’t present – or is he? Listen, it would be so wrong of me to not finish on this gem. I’m not going to explain this 1980 classic video; some art is better appreciated as is, you know? Besides, you’d only tell me to stop making sense, anyway. If you know, you know.