Audio

It’s Halloween

TRACK #170:

It’s Halloween by The Shaggs

Supposedly Frank Zappa once called The Shaggs “better than the Beatles.”

Kurt Cobain cited their sole album, Philosophy of the World, as his 5th favorite album of all time.

So they’ve got that going for them.

That same album has also been called “the worst album ever recorded,” and “hauntingly bad.”

Wherever the truth lies for you will somewhat depend upon your temperament, as with most things of this nature. Say what you will however, The Shaggs, with only 1 album to their credit, managed to record a song about Halloween and we all know what that means as far as The Shindig is concerned. Pick em up!

More bizarre than the song itself perhaps is how The Shaggs came to be.

Hailing from New Hampshire, The Wiggin sisters were forced together with instruments by their obsessive father Austin. Seems their grandmother had a prophetic vision that one day her son would sire girls who would form a famous band.

That was good enough for old Pops Wiggin, who set about providing training and putting secondhand instuments into the hands of his less than willing daughters. The results were, well…

Legendary singer, songwriter and music critic Cub Koda probably sums it up most accurately:

“There’s an innocence to these songs and their performances that’s both charming and unsettling. Hacked-at drumbeats, whacked-around chords, songs that seem to have little or no meter to them … being played on out-of-tune, pawn-shop-quality guitars all converge, creating dissonance and beauty, chaos and tranquility, causing any listener coming to this music to rearrange any pre-existing notions about the relationships between talent, originality, and ability. There is no album you might own that sounds remotely like this one.”

However, this one from Rolling Stone’s Debra Rae Cohen is pretty spot the fuck on as well:

“The Shaggs warble earnest greeting-card lyrics in happy, hapless quasi-unison along ostensible lines of melody while strumming their tinny guitars like someone worrying a zipper. The drummer pounds gamely to the call of a different muse, as if she had to guess which song they were playing – and missed every time.”

Just one go-round of this tune and every one of these descriptions will all become clear.

As typically is my nature, I’m mostly moderate on the matter. The Shaggs produce not the worst music I’ve ever heard but it’s more than just a little difficult to sit through. I wouldn’t say their better than The Beatles, as Zappa suggests, but I do think they’re more interesting. And despite Kurt’s empathic inclusion, I won’t be putting Philosophy of the World on any top five albums list.

What I will be doing however, is including It’s Halloween on The Shindig, because c’mon, how could you not?

“It’s time for games, it’s time for fun. Not for just one, but for everyone!”

 

Audio

Trick or Treat

TRACK #163: 

Trick or Treat by Otis Redding

Similar to Chuck’s tune, Otis Redding’s Trick or Treat isn’t necessarily about Halloween either. It is more related though, if only because Otis actually uses the word “Halloween.” That’s a bonus.

Despite his utilization of the name, he mostly seems concerned that this floozy is playing games with his emotions. First she’s hot on him, then maybe she gets a little chilly.

Either way, Otis just wants to know what the score is, cause he ain’t about to wait until Halloween to find out he ain’t gettin’ a Treat, which I can only assume is some sort of sexual favor.

What does any of this even have to do with Halloween? Nothing really, I suppose. Then why use Halloween at all? It’s a good question. He gets to incorporate the phrase trick or treat, but I don’t see that as a huge selling point from a song writing perspective.

Here, it implies that it’s a treat if the girl loves him, and a trick is she only likes him. That’s pretty odd though, to consider being “liked” a trick. I get what Otis is saying, but it does seem a little strange to perceive the state of being “liked” as mere trickery.

I’d rather be liked than disliked, or straight up hated on, but hey, that’s just me.

At any rate here’s another Trick or Treat song with dubious usage of Halloween, albeit from one of the greats, Mr. Otis Redding.

 

Audio

Trick or Treat


TRACK #162:

Trick or Treat by Chuck Berry

So, Chuck Berry pretty much invented Rock ‘N Roll, right? Well, at least how we might conceptualize it now anyway? That rhythm and blues styled, riff-based, axe-out-front, backbeat driven, power-stance Rock ‘N Roll? The kind that soothes Bob Seger’s soul? Yeah, I think that’s pretty widely agreed upon.

You know what else Chuck Berry did? He wrote a song about Halloween.

Well, kinda.

See, this tune makes no real overt reference to the holiday itself or its traditions. It is, however, called Trick or Treat and that phrase is repeated quite a number of times.

So, when the true King of Rock ‘N Roll straps one on and starts wailing “Trick or Treat, Baby,” The Shindig isn’t about to split hairs.

You know that new Halloween sound you been looking for? Well, listen to this!

 

Audio

The Devil’s Men

TRACK #153:

The Devil’s Men by Paul Williams

While fairly understated and never quite as rousing as it seems like it should be, The Devil’s Men is a somewhat worthwhile endeavor, if only to see card-carrying good guy Peter Cushing all cloaked out and evil, raising a 10 foot, fire-breathing Minotaur statue he calls “lord.” Oh yeah, and all the creepy robed Minotaur worshippers. Oh yeah and them all exploding at that end. That shit is pretty awesome.

But it’s mostly worth seeing for the grooviest title track this side of Scream and Sceam Again, which incidentally, Cushing also appears.

Paul Williams, whom many of you may know well from his performance in and musical contributions to, Brian DePalma’s Phantom Of The Paradise, wrote and produced this shindigger. And props all around, cause it’s a doozy.

However, much like the last 2 cuts in this True Title Track block, someone had it out for The Devil’s Men, someone who sucked at their job.

They took it and retitled it Land Of The Minotaur. Which (while in and of itself isn’t such a bad title) seems pretty unnecessary, particularly during the 70’s satanic panic where one would imagine a film called The Devil’s Men might play just fine.

They also saw fit to removed a bunch of violence and all the nudity. Seriously? What’s next? Did they cut out an awesome Title Track too?

Yes! That’s exactly what they did, and they should be tried and hung for the successive severity of their crimes.

So, if your gonna watch The Devil’s Men, make sure you watch The Devil’s Men, and not Land of the Minotaur, cause it doesn’t have a lot going for it to begin with, and the censored version removes just about every reason there is to watch it at all. For shame.

Here, now returned to its former glory, it’s Paul Williams with The Devil’s Men!

 

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Haunted House

TRACK #144: 

Haunted House by Jumpin’ Gene Simmons

Here’s a dusty old ditty that proves folks have been fascinated with Haunted Houses for well over 50 years.

From Jumpin’ Gene Simmons comes this light hearted tale of terror with an upbeat tempo from 1964. However, this song was originally recorded by Johnny Fuller in 1959. If we’re being honest, we prefer Johnny’s version quite a bit more than Gene’s. It’s faster, more bluesy and Johnny sings the thing with a lot more character. It’s just more fun in Johnny’s hands. Have a listen – you be the judge.

 

However, we’ve officially opted to include Gene’s version on the Shindig for 3 reason:

  1. It appears on Elvira’s Haunted Hits (and Vinyl Macabre for that matter)
  2. It’s a little more polished and user friendly.
  3. KISS’s very own Gene Simmons took his stage name in tribute to Jumpin’ Gene, and that’s pretty great.

Despite starting his career with legendary Sun Records and opening for Elvis Presley, this was Jumpin’ Gene’s only Top 40 hit, and it made it all the way to #11! Not bad for a silly novelty song about a haunted house. I guess people were into that sort of thing back in 1964.

What a world. I can’t picture anything even mildly resembling this song performing as well in 2017.

In fact, check it out at your next Shindig. See how a modern audience reacts to this little rockabilly spookster. My guess? It won’t make it to #11 with any of your guest.
But it definitely makes it to at least #144 here on Halloween Shindig.

 

Audio

Monster Shindig

TRACK #122:

Monster Shindig by Danny Hutton

The last time I checked this was a fucking shindig.

But what is a shindig, exactly?

Well, Merriam-Webster defines shindig as follows:

 

ˈSHinˌdiɡ/

noun informal

  1. a social gathering with dancing
  2. a usually large or lavish party

Google definitions had this to add:

  1. a large, lively party, especially one celebrating something.

Now, if you listen to any of the turkeys over at Urban Dictionary, they’d all have you believe a shindig is a small affair, consisting of anywhere from 5 to 20 people. One bozo even suggests it can contain no more than 12!

That’s why Webster’s is Webster’s and these idiot kids are logged into Urban Dictionary from their mom’s laptop.

No one better try curtailing our shindig, particularly not because some dildo in the cafeteria uses it improperly. No, we’re going definitive with our socially lavish and lively gathering that’s celebrating something.

And around here, that something is Halloween, which encompasses jack-o-Lanterns, trick or tricking and and all sorts of spooky shit of a generalized nature. That definitely includes Monsters.

From Hanna-Barbera’s 1965 record of the same name, Monster Shindig looks to muscle in on Boris Pickett’s racket by throwing their characters Super-Snooper and Blabber Mouse into the mix, stumbling upon just this type of haunted jamboree.

The cat and mouse team doesn’t show up in the song however, leaving this bizarro tune free to roam around the streets on Halloween night.

So, lets have a party…big big big and kick-off the second half of our playlist right, with another kind of shindig, performed here by Danny Hutton, who some of you may know as one third of Three Dog Night.

Bring a ghoul-friend and go berserk!

 

Audio

The Monster Mash

TRACK #117:

The Monster Mash by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and The Crypt Kickers

Around Halloween, dozens of internet outlets will cough up a dozen or so songs they think you ought to play at your Halloween party. The more enterprising sort might even toss you a couple you didn’t think of or haven’t heard before. The too-cool-for-ghoul-school nitwits’ll even attempt to buck convention with some underground hits which barely qualify and have little to no business playing at your party.

Invariably though, most Halloween playlist fakers (particularly the the oh-so-hip clique) tell ya the one thing you should never even consider playing at your party is The Monster Mash; so horrifically lame, so dreadfully passé.

I read one list that even had the audacity to claim it didn’t conjure up any feelings of fright. Are you serious? It’s a novelty song…about a bunch of monsters…having a party. Of course it doesn’t conjure up any feelings of fright you fuckin’ nimrod, it’s a joke.

They also went on to suggest I play Disturbia by Rhianna. 

They shouldn’t be allowed to make Halloween party playlists and they certainly shouldn’t come up on the first page of a Google search.

Moreover, they included The Freaks Come Out At Night by Whodini. Who-fuckin-Dini! They have a song called The Haunted House of Rock, which is played at a Halloween Dance in a movie titled Trick Or Treat. F minus to your bullshit suggestions.

These people are idiots. Don’t listen to them.

Is The Monster Mash played out? Of course it is. It’s 50 fucking years old and the only time anyone ever plays it is at Halloween.

Can you’re Oct. 31st spare 3 and half measly minutes for The Monster Mash? Yes it can and you should take off your fucking mask and hang your head in reverence for the Halloween National Anthem. The fucking heathens…..skip The Monster Mash….skip your passing interest in a holiday that didn’t need your bogus suggestions. Can’t even find The Shindig in a Google search on the matter and I get these bozos telling me to pass on The Monster Mash.

Ok, if you’re offering up 10 suggestions, I can seeing glazing over it in lieu of a few songs that people are less familiar with. Should have made it 13 songs and showed a little class. Even still, what’s 13 songs? You throwing a party for an hour?

Saw a list of 25 once. Could have just made it 31 and been a bit more festive. Still ain’t handling the job of party DJ.

That’s why Halloween Shindig exists, to rebuke these johnny-come-latelies and offer up a list of serious suggestions; to encompass all and handle the task at hand. Does anyone need a 12 hour Halloween playlist? Probably not but it’s here and growing longer each year. I hope to one day have 24 hours worth so your Halloween couldn’t possibly fit anymore music.

You only need to fill 4 hours? We’ll hook you up 3 times over again. Only want a party filled with Monster Raps? No problem. Here’s 2 hours worth.

Is Love Is A Lie very Halloweeny? Not at all but it’s in Friday 4 when Crispin Glover dances like an idiot and that’s the kinda Halloween party some people are throwing. Not your Shindig? There’s 230 other songs to pick from but it should be represented, just like The fucking Monster Mash should be represented.

To hell with your non-festive, non-referential garbage pop. Play that shit at your wedding. Tonight is Halloween and you should be playing the goddamn Monster Mash.

 

Audio

The Munster’s Theme (with lyrics)

084_munsters_at-home-withTRACK #84:

The Munsters’ Theme (with lyrics)

by Jack Marshall & Bob Mosher

Everybody loves The Munsters’ foot stompin’ surfy theme, but Jack Marshall’s tune actually had some lyrics to go with. Written by the show’s producer Bob Mosher, this version of the theme was never featured on the show.

However, thanks to the album At Home With the Munsters, fans are given a chance to hear this more typical sounding theme.

It may be a little slower, and definitely not better, but it does feature some clever lyrics and even a nod to our hallowed holiday. Shindig approved!

I led the track it with a clip from The Munsters’ Revenge, a TV movie produced in 1981 which actually takes place around Halloween, and features The Munsters at 2 different Halloween parities. Finally.

Because, every evening is Halloween, at The Munsters’!

 

 

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The Munster’s Theme

083_munsters_themeTRACK #83:

The Munsters’ Theme by Jack Marshall

Speaking of iconic, it’s high time we talked about the most iconic family in all of horror-dom, The Munsters.

Though only lasting 2 seasons, Herman, Lily, Grandpa, Eddie and Marylin Munster have lingered on, long past their short stint on the airwaves to become some of horrors most beloved characters.

With such talented actors as Yvonne DeCarlo, Al Lewis and Fred Gwynne hamming it up in such great costumes and make-up, it’s not hard to understand why the show has remained so wonderful to watch and still manages to capture new generations of viewers.

So loved are The Munsters, they’ve been revisited and recast more times than just about anything in the genre, with 5 separate actors playing Herman, Grandpa and Lily, and 7 stepping into the role of Eddie. Marilyn still has the most though, at 9, including 2 actresses (Beverly Owen and Pat Priest) during the show’s initial run. That’s pretty crazy.

However for fans, these revisits have run the gamut from quaint and acceptable (1981’s The Munster’s Revenge) to somewhat watchable (1995’s Here Come The Munsters) to the flat-out cringe inducing (the ill-advised, ill-conceived and ill-received The Munsters Today.) The latter (being a rebooted, sequel-series that aired from 1988 to 1991) somehow managed to stay on the air an entire season longer than the original show, though only producing roughly the same number of episodes.

While each installment has something of merit (The Munster’s Today does feature a rather good turn from Howard Morton as Grandpa) nothing quite matched or lived up to the series. Even 1966’s Munster, Go Home! (the closest to actually feeling like the show) is hampered by the decisions to film in color, recast Marilyn and lose the laugh track.

All that said, perhaps the most iconic aspect of the show is its oft played, oft covered and oft imitated theme song composed by Jack Marshall. If you’ve ever seen the un-aired (and colorized!) pilot for the show, you know just how instrumental Jack’s theme really was.

Instantly recognizable, it’s one of the great television themes of all-time, and just about every rehash (including Munster, Go Home!) has either failed to include it, or used some seriously bastardized version (The Munsters Today) that feels egregious.

Though they were changed a bit between seasons 1 and 2, I’m not quite sure which I honestly prefer most. I’ve included the season 2 theme on the Shindig because I believe it’s the one most often referred to, covered and imitated. Also, The Los Straitjackets’ version appears later in playlist, and that definitely has a distinctly Season 1 sound.

So, let’s spend some time on the Shindig with America’s First Family of Fright, The Munster.

 

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Morgus The Magnificent

063_morgusTRACK #63:

Morgus The Magnificent by Morgus & The 3 Ghouls

Chances are, if you grew up in New Orleans between the years of 1959 and 1989 (and maybe even later) you’re familiar with local legend and House of Shock host Morgus The Magnificent.

Perhaps the most prolific host, Sid Noel’s seminal mad scientist still gets syndicated airplay down in the Big Easy, where the good doctor has one hell of a loyal fan base.

So much so that hometown hero Dr. John, who most famously speculated that he was “in the right place, but it must have been the wrong time,” cut this tune about the doc back in the early 60’s.

Released under the pseudonym band “Morgus and the 3 Ghouls,” Dr. John pays tribute to medical contemporary and self proclaimed 38th degree mason Dr. Morgus and his late night House of Shock.

Morgus also has the honor of being one of a few hosts to have his on movie. “The Wacky World of Dr. Morgus” finds our titular physician creating a Batman: The Movie style machine which turns people into dust and then back into people again.

So sit back with the 2 docs, and enjoy this old piece of Horror Host history.