No Halloween on Halloween Shindig would be complete without a Halloween Song called Halloween. This year it’s from Belgian metalers Ostrogoth.
If you’ve never heard of them, don’t feel down, I’m pretty sure unless you were a serious hesher in 1985, you probably haven’t. And if they didn’t have a song called Halloween, I probably wouldn’t either.
Buried in the dredges of 80’s euro-metal comes a band named after a sect of the East Germanic Goths, partially responsible for the fall of the Western Roman Empire! Do these guys know how to party, or what!?
Partiers or not, they know how to Halloween. And they’re Halloweening hard here with a song so spooky it even features a creepy Devil voice.
Loaded with clips from Halloween 4, cause we haven’t tapped the keg yet, and because Don LaFontaine absolutely kills on this trailer.
I’ve seen Halloween 4. I don’t much care for Halloween 4, but every time I hear Don’s voiceover, I forget how much I don’t actually care for Halloween 4 and almost throw it in.
When they wanted to provide some damage control from the consumer fallout of Halloween III…they weren’t fuckin’ around.
“Ever since that night, no one…has forgotten his name…and Halloween…has never been the same.”
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’sHalloween 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!”
Samhain, as many of you may know is pronounced Sah-win, or Sow-Ween. A Celtic word, it was the name of a festival marking the beginning of winner, or perhaps more astutely, the end of the year.
It is said that during this time the barrier between the living and the dead is at it most thin, making communion with the spirits, whether wanted or unwanted, all the more successful.
Huge bonfires would be lit to ward off evil. Disguises would be worn to trick them, and lights would burn in gourds to ferry the spirits of loved ones long gone home.
Many of the customs associated with modern day Halloween originate from this festival. Mumming or guising and going door to door in search of offerings being chief among them.
As for Samhain the band, they were formed in 1983 by Glenn Danzig as a side project to The Misfits. Once The Misfits disbanded though, Danzig focused all his attention toward Samhain. They would eventually evolve into the band known simply as Danzig, adopting both their logo and font, while taking their sound into more metal-like territory.
Heavier and darker than the comparatively cartoonish tone of The Misfits, Samhain is perhaps the least celebrated of Glenn’s outfits. But Danzig being Danzig, they offer up a song perfectly suited to our Shindig; the band anthem Samhain.
At the time of this writing, it is less than a week away from Halloween and it is currently 102 degrees in Los Angeles. There are 3 fires currently burning across various parts of the county.
Just look at that album cover. That shit is awesome. That’s one of the coolest album covers I’ve seen in a long time. I know they say you shouldn’t judge stuff by it’s cover and what have you, but c’mon, look at that fucking thing. There’s no way the band hiding behind this cover doesn’t rule.
And they do.
Sludgy, doomy and packed front to back with Halloween imagery, Acid Witch delivers the goods. Hailing from Detroit, it seems they’ve taken up the mantle from Motorcity’s own Halloween and dubbed their music “Halloween Metal.” Goddamn right.
As such, they’ve got plenty of Halloween fodder for the Shindig, and like their local brethren, are first ballot Shindig All-Stars.
They even cut an EP last year called “Midnight Movie” featuring covers of songs already included on the playlist, with samples and everything. It’s like they covered the Shindig! It’s insane. I love these dudes.
First up from Acid Witch: Trick or Treat. Chuggier than shit and more unsettling than that, it’s written from the perspective of a true predator on Halloween, lurking in the guise of a mild mannered neighbor.
With his thicked-rimmed glasses, trimmed mustache and white cargo van, he relishes in the opportunity Halloween provides to snatch up children to feed his cannibalistic desires. His is the house you stay away from on Halloween, and every neighborhood has someone like him.
Sampled up with clips from the Tales From the Darkside pilot Trick or Treats, featuring a different kind of Halloween predator, Mr. Hackle.
Banker and land baron to a small farming community, he has the whole of the town indebted to him through IOUs. Every Halloween he allows the children a chance to enter his haunted abode and search for the IOUs to clear their parent’s debt. There, they find he has a few tricks up his sleeve for them. But this year, the spirits of Halloween have a few tricks in store for him.
Featured within is one of the scariest witches to ever grace the screen, who’s cackle and entreaties for treats are the stuff of nightmares.
What better combo for Acid Witch and their All Hallo’s horror.
Another British band singing about Halloween? What gives, Ed? You said the Brits don’t give a toss for All Hallo’s.
Well, I don’t get the impression that they do. I’ve never claimed to be the authority on any matter, not even Halloween Horror Music, and I’ve written far too many words concerning that subject.
Whether that impression is true or not is neither here nor there when it comes to this ‘digger, because it’s a clear case of a band disguising a song as a Halloween song.
Witchfynde’sTrick or Treat details the dealings of a two-faced sort of character that has much but always wants more. Eventually, not being able to satiate his desires, he takes to B&E, a bit of murder, and gets himself tossed in the clink. Not exactly a love song, but definitely not specifically about Halloween.
Still, it’s a pretty groovin’ tune from a weird, occulty band called Witchfynde where the lyrics “Trick or Treat” get repeated a number of times, so we’re lightin’ it up.
Throw in a little festive atmosphere from the Tales From the Darkside episode entitled Halloween Candy, and you’ve got yourself a perfect number for an Oct. 20th’s evenings.
Similar to Chuck’s tune, Otis Redding’sTrick 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.
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.
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!
Trick or Treat (For Halloween) Al Hoffman, Jerry Livingston and Mack David
Though Siouxsie Sioux’s song starts this block off rather nicely, let’s fully embrace the Trick or Treat vibe with this tune from Disney’s classic 1952 short Trick or Treat starring Donald Duck.
Full of great vintage Halloween imagery, the short features Huey, Dewey and Louie approaching their uncle’s house for a bit of Trick or Treat. But Donald’s an asshole and he promptly puts fireworks in their bags. His own Nephews? What a prick.
No matter, as the boys soon find a Witch and now the trick’s on Donald as she conjures a potion which transforms just about everything into a nightmarish object to torment Donald.
Based around this typically Disney-styled tune, the short is a great October viewing for any fans of either Disney or the season.
The British don’t really give a shit about Halloween. At least not according to me and this blog on the occasions where we’ve previously claimed as such.
We’ve based this idea almost exclusively on To The Devil a Daughter and The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane. Additionally, my wife has corroborated this somewhat, having spent some time in England and found their enthusiasm lacking.
Strange then that innovative British Post-Punkers and Goth pioneers Siouxsie and the Banshees have a song titled Halloween. Or maybe not, given their whole gothy aesthetic.
To be fair, their song isn’t a parade of Milky Ways, Don Post masks and burning orange gourds, though.
No, Siouxsie Sioux’s track is a more atmospheric affair that seems to deal with a loss of childhood innocence.
Doubling fitting then that we bookend it with samples from the aforementioned Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, where American creeper Martin Sheen sleazes all over British Jodi Foster on the Eve of All Saints in a decidedly less-than-innocent fashion.
He also provides us with a pretty solid and concise description of what Halloween represents stateside:
“Oh, it’s a big day here when all the kids get dressed up in scary costumes and masks and go around to all the houses. When you answer the door the shout ‘trick or treat’ and you’re suppose to act scared, and if you don’t give them a treat, they’ll pull some dirty trick on you.”
Yep, that’s pretty much what we got going on over here.