Song of the Day (Shocktober): The Cramps “What’s Behind the Mask”

Shocktober The CrampsThe Cramps via Getty

Song of the Day (Shocktober): The Cramps “What’s Behind the Mask”

hypnotic, ominous, and hilarious

The Cramps want to know “What’s Behind the Mask” on this track from their now-classic 1980 I.R.S. Records debut, Songs the Lord Taught Us. The band’s primal, sex-crazed mix of punk, rockabilly, psychedelic garage rock, and monster culture is perfectly captured on tape by Memphis rock legend Alex Chilton. The result is a masterful full-length statement of purpose, simultaneously powerful, hypnotic, ominous, and hilarious. On “What’s Behind the Mask,” the band kicks up a chugging racket, punctuated by a twanging two-note guitar break. Poison Ivy and Bryan Gregory’s guitars lock tempo with Nick Knox’s voodoo drumming, while Lux Interior’s vocal incantations plead for one quick glance at his girl’s face. Wondering what might be wrong (skin condition, extra eye, surgical incision?), he finally gets a peek and has immediate regrets…

I been seeing you for months coming to this place
Now what i wanna know is, honey
When can i see your face?
I know you been hiding something secrets in your past
Whooo, baby, i just gotta know what’s behind the mask

Please, baby, please please give me one quick glance
Now how come i can’t see your face when i see what’s in your pants?
Is it a skin condition? or an extra eye?
Surgical incision? i keep wonderin’ why (why!)

Uhhh… you ain’t wearin’ silver bullets or carving z’s in chests
It’s been months since halloween honey, i can’t guess
Now just relax and let me lift up this edge and let me take a peek
Ooh, let me have a look in here… eeeeeeeek!

Well, curiosity killed this cat, sorry i ever asked
What i don’t know can’t hurt me as much as what’s behind the mask
What’s behind the mask, girl what’s behind the mask
What’s behind that mask, girl sorry i ever asked

The Cramps Songs the Lord Taught Us