Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Top 10 plus a couple

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday – spooky, ethereal, dark, romantic, blood-drenched, sexy and it can be damn fun. For the last few years, I haven’t truly celebrated, but that has never stopped me from pulling out my favorite films and, of course, music to commemorate the day!

Of course r’n’r has always been tied to evil and Satan, so there are countless examples of great Halloween-themed records, but I decided to try to make a by-no-means-comprehensive list of some of the ones that I love best.

1) Of course, when I think of Halloween, I think of B-horror movies and I think of The Cramps. A huge influence on me and an incredible band, especially early on. The best for Halloween: Gravest Hits, Songs the Lord Taught Us, Psychedulic Jungle and, of course, “Surfin’ Dead”. Once again, RIP to Lux - this is the first Halloween without him - sad...

2) But, before the Cramps even existed, horror rock was a fairly small genre, mostly occupied by the superb Alice Cooper band. The first 5 studio albums are all full of death, gore, b-movies and terrific r’n’r. And, as I’ve been watching the original Universal horror movies, Alice’s “Ballad of Dwight Frye” (“Renfield”) from Love it to Death is particularly appropriate.

3) Not as overtly theatrical as Alice, but sounding at least as “evil” is, naturally, Black Sabbath. Their self-titled initial outing is the darkest by far, but the three that follow have plenty of wicked-sounding, bombastic, dirge-like anthems that certainly fit the season.

4) Moving into more modern (comparatively) times, the Misfits actually titled a song “Halloween” and apparently celebrated all year long! Almost every song they ever wrote and recorded fits, from “Vampira” to “Astro-Zombies” to “Teenagers from Mars” and on & on.

4a) From their, Glenn moved on to create the band he modestly called Danzig, with much better production but still plenty of devilish tunes. Their first three are musts for all Satan lovers!

5) As a lover of garage, I can’t help but dig Rudy Protrudi’s genius idea of a r’n’r Haloween record, the FuzztonesMonster-a-Go-Go. Chock full of great garage numbers fitting the season, this vinyl was even pressed in pumpkin orange!

6) Some of my fondest memories of the early 80’s in LA include seeing the Dream Syndicate and their tune “Halloween” from Days of Wine and Roses is another perfect nugget for the night.

7) Another band that is spooky mostly in their sheer bizarre-ness is the Shaggs, whose tune “It’s Halloween” is a mix of innocence and madness that couldn’t be re-created and certainly not if someone tried!

8) While my favorite Siousxie and the Banshees is the first album (also seasonal, with tunes like "Carcass"), they continued to put out quality tunes through the 80’s including “Halloween”, from the JuJu record.

9) Roky Erikson went a little mad after a few too many acid trips and a stint in an asylum (in order to avoid the draft) but he continued to record truly twisted and demented monster music. My personal highlight is The Evil One, which would frighten any sane person any time of year.

10) Though I pull out their records constantly and not simply seasonally, Blue Oyster Cult is another group who, while being short, New York Jews, sounded demonic and the second word out of Eric Bloom’s mouth on their first album is “Satan”, which gives you an idea of where they stand!

Bonus bands – of course I can’t forget the late 70’s early goth of Bauhaus (“Bela Lagosi’s Dead”) and Joy Division, who was so depressing that the singer killed himself.

And, of course, all the devilish and evil-sounded old blues singers, from Robert Johnson ("Hellhound on My Trail") to Howlin’ Wolf ("Evil") to countless others who lived their own internal fights between good and evil.

So, Happy Halloween and put on some white-face and black eye shadow for me!