undead undead undead
Original Format: cassette
28 years ago tonight, Halloween Eve 1992, I was driving around leaving copies of this tape on my friends’ doorsteps. Now all I have to do is click this here Publish button, and whoosh, out it goes to the world at large. Is that better? Well, it’s easier, anyway.
Listen to Them Bela Lugosi
Below is an actual picture of a young, hunky Bela Lugosi playing Jesus in an Easter passion play, circa 1909. I’m crapping you negative.
Bela Lugosi’s Dead Bauhaus
In retrospect putting this right at the beginning was probably unwise. Classic though it is, it’s almost 10 goddamn minutes long, and maybe you’re not always in the mood for 10 minutes of bat sounds, guitar screeching, and Peter Murphy moaning “undead undead undead.” I mean, I usually am, but I’m funny that way.
The Jazz Butcher Meets Count Dracula The Jazz Butcher
Once again, it turns out there was a video for this song all these years and I never knew. It’s pretty fun, and David J. of Bauhaus is there too, as he was Butch’s bass player at the time.
O Death Camper Van Beethoven
This song has a long history, tracing all the way back to at least the 1920s. Ralph Stanley’s a cappella version was famously used in O Brother Where Art Thou to accompany the cavortings of red-robed Klansmen, making for a super-creepy combo. It recently popped up again, as performed by Shakey Graves, in the second season of the Fargo TV show. And because I saw this fact on Wikipedia just now, I feel compelled to mention that “it is sung in the 1976 Barbara Kopple documentary Harlan County, USA… by early union activist and coal miner Nimrod Workman.”
Horror Has a Face Marlon Brando
That one always makes me think of this one:
Dance with Me Lords of the New Church
“This trip down Memory Lane was all worth it, however, for reminding me of one of my favorite songs of the ’80s: ‘Dance with Me’ by Lords of the New Church. This band doesn’t get many pages (or even paragraphs) in the history books, even though it was a punk supergroup fronted by the legendary Stiv Bators and included Brian James of the Damned, Dave Tregunna of Sham 69, and Nicky Turner of the Barracudas. Dead Boys is Bators’ primary legacy, and rightfully so, but when I was 13, I didn’t know from the Dead Boys. All I knew was this wierd[sic]-looking dude in this bizarre video had me at ‘ritual fertility.’ I heard real longing and desperation in that voice, and it spoke to me.” —Jennifer Cooke, PopMatters
Heartbreak Hotel John Cale
“One of the most amazing cover versions ever, and arguably the best Elvis Presley revamp in existence, the slower pace, freaked-out Eno synth arrangement, and above all else Cale’s chilling delivery make it a masterpiece.” —Ned Raggett, Allmusic
The Addams Family Theme Vic Mizzy
“I sat down; I went ‘buh-buh-buh-bump [snap-snap], buh-buh-buh-bump…. That’s why I’m living in Bel-Air: Two finger snaps and you live in Bel-Air.” —Vic Mizzy
Werewolves of London Warren Zevon
“The song began as a joke by Phil Everly (of The Everly Brothers) to Zevon in 1975, over two years before the recording sessions for Excitable Boy. Everly had watched a television broadcast of the 1935 film Werewolf of London and suggested to Zevon that he adapt the title for a song and dance craze…. Zevon later said of the song, ‘I don’t know why that became such a hit. We didn’t think it was suitable to be played on the radio. It didn’t become an albatross. It’s better that I bring something to mind than nothing. There are times when I prefer that it was ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water,’ but I don’t think bad about the song. I still think it’s funny.’ He also described ‘Werewolves of London’ as a novelty song, ‘[but] not a novelty the way, say, Steve Martin’s “King Tut” is a novelty.’” —Wikipedia
They Mostly Come at Night Rebecca “Newt” Jorden a.k.a. Carrie Henn
I see that Aliens was Carrie Henn’s one and only acting credit. She is now 44 and apparently has found other things to do with her life. Good for her.
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) David Bowie
“It’s Bowie’s most aggressive straight-up rock track since ‘Diamond Dogs.’ He called ‘Scary Monsters’ at the time ‘a piece of Londonism,’ narrated by a ‘criminal with a conscience who talks about how he corrupted a fine young mind,’ and he sang it in his Mockney accent (though not entirely — he sings ‘again’ (at the close of the first verse) fairly flat, not as ‘ah-GAYN’). It’s an odd move, perhaps an attempt to give a ‘South London’ realism to the track or add to its lurid horror-movie feel (the title was apparently inspired by a Kellogg’s Corn Flakes ad campaign — ‘Scary Monsters and Super Heroes’)…. Much like ‘Diamond Dogs,’ the result is a murky, frenetic, repurposed-sounding track, but the energy of the players, Bowie’s sly, scraping vocal and, most of all, the pure hooks of the chorus (the godfather of many Pixies and Nine Inch Nails choruses — when Frank Black and Trent Reznor sang ‘Scary Monsters’ with Bowie in the mid-’90s, it was like they were covering themselves) made it a rock standard despite its dedicated strangeness.” —Chris O’Leary
If You Have Ghosts John Wesley Harding and the Good Liars
To this day I will tell anyone who will listen that the album this is from, Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye: A Tribute to Roky Erickson, is the best tribute album ever made. Part of what made it so great is that Roky’s own recordings — both with the 13th Floor Elevators and throughout his solo career — were often hamstrung by poor production, low budgets, mental illness, drug issues, etc. So there was a lot of great material that had never been done justice. But back in the early 90s I didn’t know that — I just knew this was a fantastic tune, so fantastic that I never investigated John Wesley Harding any further, sure that I would be disappointed. Maybe that was a mistake? Maybe I should do something about it? Maybe I will. Maybe not.
Requiem for Soprano, Two Mixed Choirs and Orchestra Gyorgy Ligeti
Because his music appeared in 2001: A Space Odyssey, for a long time I assumed Ligeti was some composer from hundreds of years ago. But no, the Requiem was only a few years old when Kubrick used it, and Ligeti was alive and working into the 21st century. Also: His first name should have an umlaut in it, but I haven’t figured out how to do that in WordPress. (Is “umlaut” also supposed to have an umlaut in it? I could look it up, but this feels like a day for questions, not answers.)
I Was a Teenage Werewolf The Cramps
“LUX INTERIOR Born on this day thankfully! It didn’t take more than one look at a photograph of Lux Interior in 1976 to realize he was a special creature. It didn’t take more than witnessing one song of The Cramps live to realize Lux Burned with an uncontrollable wildfire. Lux was sexy, funny and dangerous all at the same time. The rockabilly howler, the psychedelic seer, the latex and high heels pervert, the late night horror host, the most exalted potentate of love, the king of rock’n’roll. Lux was all these things & more. We miss ya Lux.” —Kid Congo Powers, 10/21/2020
Wrapped in Plastic Jack Nance
Jack is also missed. He puts more into these five words than some people do into a career.
The Pixies did a podcast about the recording of their last album, which I had a hard time listening to because the new music was so uniformly awful. But back in the day they were the shit.
The Black Angel’s Death Song Velvet Underground
“When I played viola [with Lou Reed]… I thought we had discovered a really original, nasty style. The idea was that Lou could improvise lyrics, and that was where the idea of space and scale from drone and hypnosis came to be. The idea would be that we could create this orchestral chaos on stage and Lou could improvise.” —John Cale
Nevermore Basil Rathbone
Poor Basil. Though a gifted thespian with a sonorous speaking voice, he was always typecast — first as an upper-class villain, then as Sherlock Holmes. By the end of his career, he was reduced to appearing in things like Hillbillys in a Haunted House:
The first comment on that YouTube page: “This movie made me sad for every actor who has ever lived.”