Seven spooky songs for Halloween

Several of my fellow bloggers have been suggesting music to listen to during the Halloween season (check out The Telltale Mind all month for 31 creepy Song of the Day entries) so I thought I would chime in with a few of my own. Here are seven spooky songs for your eerie entertainment…

The Last Dance – Dead Man’s Party

Dark wave band The Last Dance did an excellent cover of Oingo Boingo’s 1986 song “Dead Man’s Party.”  Released on their 2003 album Whispers in Rage, The Last Dance took the song, which I felt originally had a sort of playful quality, and gave it more of an edgy tone.

Fun fact: “Dead Man’s Party” contains the following lyrics:

“I hear the chauffeur comin’ to my door

“Says there’s room for maybe just one more”

That’s a reference to a iconic ghost story with several variations that dates back to the “The Bus-Conductor” by E. F. Benson published in 1906. Among the various adaptations of this tale are an episode of The Twilight Zone and a Golden Age comic book story with a Jack Kirby cover.

Depeche Mode – Memphisto

This eerie instrumental was released in 1990 by Depeche Mode as a “b-side” to the single of their hit song “Enjoy the Silence.” Speaking with Poster Seductores magazine in 1990 the band explained the song thus:

“We like cinema and we like to create special [atmospheres] with our music. In a way, ‘Memphisto’ is our homage to that esoteric cinema.”

In an April 1993 interview Depeche Mode guitarist & keyboardist Martin Gore revealed the origin of the song’s title:

“It was the name of a make believe film I invented about Elvis as the devil.”

Misfits – Dig Up Her Bones

The punk rock band Misfits have been heavily influenced by horror movies, and the group has released numerous genre-themed songs. “Dig Up Her Bones” is from American Psycho, the 1997 album recorded by a new line-up assembled by bassist Jerry Only and guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein. The vocals on “Dig Up Her Bones” are by Michael Graves. The video for “Dig Up Her Bones” utilized clips from the 1935 horror movie Bride of Frankenstein.

The album cover for American Psycho featured band mascot the Crimson Ghost painted by Basil Gogos, the artist who created numerous striking covers for the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland for Warren Publishing. Jerry Only was a childhood fan of Gogos’ work and commissioned him to do several paintings for the band.

Paralysed Age – Bloodsucker

Gothic rock band Paralysed Age’s song“Bloodsucker” was first released in Germany on their 1992 debut album Christened Child. It was subsequently re-released in the United States on the album Empire of the Vampire. This uptempo song is an ode to the mythic vampires of Central European folklore and 19th Century gothic horror literature.

John Carpenter – Assault on Precinct 13 main theme

Assault on Precinct 13 is, strictly speaking, not a horror movie. However, I have always found it pretty damn scary. Writer / director John Carpenter has described his 1976 movie as having been inspired by the Howard Hawks’ classic Western film Rio Bravo. Myself, I’ve always felt that Assault on Precinct 13 was sort of the equivalent of Night of the Living Dead with a street gang substituted for the zombies.

Whatever the case, the opening theme of the movie, composed by Carpenter himself, is a genuinely atmospheric piece that effectively sets the tone for the next hour and a half of cinema.

Switchblade Symphony – Witches (Temple Of Rain Mix)

Gothic / dark wave band Switchblade Symphony were only together for a little over a decade, from 1989 to 1999, but nevertheless managed to make a lasting impression, and a well-remembered. The original studio cut of “Witches” was on their 1997 album Bread and Jam for Frances. This version is contained on the 2001 disk Sinister Nostalgia, a collection of remixes.

Iron Maiden – Dance of Death

“Dance of Death,” taken from the 2003 album from heavy metal band Iron Maiden of the same name, was inspired by the final scene of Ingmar Bergman’s iconic 1957 film The Seventh Seal. Written by guitarist Janick Gers and bassist / keyboardist Steve Harris, this eight and a half minute long “Dance of Death” is a moody song that demonstrates Iron Maiden’s musical versatility.

I hope you enjoyed all of these. Feel free to share your own suggestions for Halloween music.

Misfits and Osaka Popstar at Forbidden Planet

I went to the signing at Forbidden Planet in Manhattan this past Wednesday.  At the store were Jerry Only, Dez Cadena, and Eric “Chupacabra” Acre, the current line-up of the punk rock band the Misfits.  Also at the signing was John Cafiero, frontman of the anime-inspired punk group Osaka Popstar.  I hadn’t actually heard of Osaka Popstar before, but of course I knew of the Misfits, even though I’ve only really gotten into listening to them in the last few years (my girlfriend, on the other hand, has been a fan since high school).

It was pretty darn cool meeting Jerry Only. I have to say, I was surprised to see so many fans who were in their teens and early twenties.  Nice to know that there are still younger people out there listening to real music, rather than that all of that Auto-Tune crap.  (Not that I’m really old or anything… I’m only 36!)  Yeah, you can argue that the Misfits are past their prime and that almost all the original band is gone (Jerry Only is the last founding member currently still in the group).  But at least they still play their own instruments, write their own music, etc.  I’ll gladly take the Misfits in their current incarnation over most of the new pop “singers” clogging the airwaves.

Jerry Only seemed like a really cool, friendly guy.  He appeared to be enjoying himself, and made a real effort to talk to all of the fans.  Certainly wasn’t playing the role of aloof, famous rock star, or anything like that.  I’m sure part of the reason he was in a good mood was because all these cute twenty year old punk and goth girls were lining up to see him!  But, hey, he made time for everyone.  When I mentioned that my girlfriend wasn’t able to make it because she had the flu, Only gave me a free Misfits mask autographed by himself, Cadena and Acre as a gift for her.  I think he knew that she was a true fan because I brought along her limited edition Jerry Only doll to get autographed.  He was thrilled to see that.

Misfits swag

Only, Cadena, and Acre were signing copies of the new Misfits album Dead Alive (or, if you prefer, DEA.D. ALIVE!) which is a recording of their Halloween 2011 show at BB Kings in Times Square.  I gave the CD a listen yesterday.  It isn’t the greatest live album that I’ve ever heard, by any means.  But it’s certainly a fun, enjoyable collection of cool sci-fi / horror inspired tunes, which is what has always been the appeal of the Misfits for me.  If you’re already a Misfits fan, you’ll probably like it.

Going by Dead Alive, you could argue that Jerry Only is a better bass player than front man, that perhaps he does not quite have the spark of either Glenn Danzig or Michael Graves. That said, Only is obviously passionate about keeping the Misfits going. You have to give him credit for keeping at it in the era of lip synching “artists” who cannot even play their own instruments.

Misfits Dead Alive

I enjoyed the Osaka Popstar CD I picked up somewhat more, at least.  Rock’Em O-Sock’Em Live is a really cool collection live punk music, including covers of a few Ramones songs.  It was recorded back during Fiend Fest ’06.  John Cafiero is on vocals.  Backing him up are Dez Cadena & Ivan Julian on guitars, Jerry Only on bass, and Markey Ramone on drums.  The CD is topped off by a cool cover illustrated by Garbage Pail Kids artist John Pound.  That really brought back memories!

Osaka Popstar just released a new single, “Super Hero.”  I didn’t have a chance to get a copy of that at Forbidden Planet, but I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for it.

Osaka Popstar

Anyway, even though I was pretty lukewarm about Dead Alive, I would still like to see the Misfits live one of these days.  I’m sure it would be a fun show.  And hopefully I’ll also have a chance to catch Osaka Popstar.  Judging by Rock’Em O-Sock’Em Live, John Cafiero is a heck of a good performer.