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

Samhain

TRACK #169:

Samhain by Samhain

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.

Feel the warmth of the Samhain flame.

 

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

Trick or Treat (For Halloween)

TRACK #161:

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.

Twick ow Tweat!

 

Audio

Halloween

TRACK #160:

Halloween by Siouxsie and The Banshees

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.

 

Audio

Hauntedween

TRACK #150:

Hauntedween by Ernest Raymer

What better place to bring our Haunted House Rockin’ block to an end than here, at the Berber House with Hauntedween, a Haunted House Halloween Title Track?

While not a real haunted house, The Berber House is just a festive Haunted House, or rather a Haunt, which has hitherto but unrepresented in our block.

A staple of the season since well before I was brought to this plane of existence, The Haunted House is as much a part of Halloween as Trick-or-Treating, Jack-O-Lanterns and slutty costumes.

High school kids in rubber masks weave through a thick mist of dangling limbs and fake fog looking for their next mark. 

Disorienting lights strobe to the beat of pneumatic pistons firing foam jump scares.

You can hear a chainsaw perpetually chugging, but you can’t see much of anything at all.

Grown adults tip-toe around corners in the dark, weary of things they know aren’t really out to get them. 

The nervous shriek, the tough guys almost instictively punch and the weirdos laugh uneasily. 

Some are good and some are terrible, but they all have that same smell, that same vibe, the same excitement, and you should always treat yourself to at least one visit a season.

Hauntedween is a low budget affair filled with that same sort of passionate home-town charm and love for the holiday you find in local Haunted Houses, and it features a killer lying in wait at just such a local Haunt. You can read The Shindig’s write-up here! 

This Title Track (which it is gracious enough to give us) plays over a montage of the Sigma Phi frat boys rebuilding the old local Haunt in preparation for a holiday fundraiser to save their fraternity!

It may be awkward to say, and it may not make one bit of sense, but here it is all the same…it’s Hauntedween!

Someone’s dying to start the show.

 

Audio

Trick Or Treat

TRACK #132:

Trick or Treat by Elvira

If you’re an Elvira fan like me, than you’re no doubt at least tangentially aware of her Halloween albums.

There are a number of them, the bulk of which feature the mistress herself singing on her own original tracks. They’re pretty great.

What you may notice however, is that while these Halloween albums feature lots of allusions to the holiday, Elvira herself only participates in songs tangentially related to Halloween itself. What gives?

If you’re like me and you administer a Halloween themed music blog, you may have even dug deep enough to find the many references to an actual Halloween song she sings called Trick or Treat. There’s even a couple of clips on YouTube of her performing the track. So where’s the damn song?

Who knows exactly, as it seems it was never officially released on any of her albums. However, The Shindig dug deeper still and purchased an episode of The Dr. Demento Show from October of 1983 that featured Cassandra Peterson as co-host.

As you’ll hear in the clip, The Doc mentions Elvira’s forthcoming album will be including original tunes, one of which they preview on the show, our white buffalo Trick or Treat. Why this never came to fruition is a Halloween legend of limited and miopic interest.

So, here it is Weeners! Enjoy.

 

Audio

Punky Punkin

TRACK: #131

Punky Punkin by Fran Allison and Ollie Fame

This strange dusty Halloween relic was written by Cy Coben and originally recorded by Rosemary Clooney (yeah, George’s Ma Dukes) back in 1950.

No disrespect to Mama Clooney but the Shindig prefers this version from 1952 recorded by Fran Allison and Ollie Fame. It’s a little sillier, a bit more up-tempo and generally more fun to listen to, in our opinion.

I always say “our.” Why do I do this? Who exactly is the “we” in this equation? I’m the only one here, so who the hell am I referring to, exactly? I think this is perhaps burgeoning psychosis, but I digress.

Looking online it seems a lot of people have memories of learning and singing this tune in grade school around Halloween.

I have no such memory.

In fact, I have no memories attached to this song whatsoever. I don’t even know when I first heard it, where I heard it or why it was even being played. It’s just been on my computer (and the playlist) for some years now, defying my temporal lobe.

I enjoy this song a great deal, though. It makes me happy when I hear it. It’s a nice little Halloween ditty that’s fun to play.

I think I may be the only one who feels this way however, for it’s a weird number that’s always sure to turn a head or two in the party crowd:

Angry Listener : “What the fuck is this nonsense? Is this a Christmas song or some shit?”

Me: “No, but it does kinda sound like one, huh? It’s just an old Halloween song about pumpkins. It’s for kids, I think.”

Angry Listener: “Well why the fuck are we listening to it then?”

Me: “Cause it’s Halloween and we’re at a Halloween party and she’s singing about a pumpkin that’s all stoked it gets to be a Jack-O-Lantern instead of a pie. Why else?”

Angry Listener: “Oh Yeah? Well this song punkin’ sucks. In fact, it can suck my punkins. How bout that?”

Me: “Go suck your own punkins, pal. Fran Allison is a sweatheart, you hedonistic dildo!”

This exact conversation (or an entirely less confrontational version of it) has happened every year with someone listening to this playlist since Punky Punkin’s inclusion.

Maybe this will happen at your party.

Or maybe it won’t because you wouldn’t be caught dead playing this kind of bullshit at your Halloween party.

That’s fine. In fact, that’s exactly what The Shindig is here for. To be a convenient one-stop hovel of Halloween hits where we talk about and provide Halloween song suggestions you can peruse or listen to or download and add (or not add) to your own party playlist.

You can’t honesty be expected to want to add all of them. Nor could you be expected to even listen to all of them much less like all of them. We wouldn’t begin to presume such things. But they are all here, ripe for the picking this harvest season.

But seriously though, if you don’t like this song you’re probably an asshole.

 

Audio

Halloween

TRACK #130:

Halloween by Helloween

Let’s just cap off this 80’s metal block with perhaps the greatest 80’s metal Halloween track ever recorded.

If a band named Helloween didn’t have a song called Halloween, I might have to sit down with them and have real frank discussion. Fortunately, that’s not necessary thanks to this metal overture to the Eve of All Hallo’s.

Originally something like 13 minutes, I use the edited single version on the Shindig for the sake of movement. No one at your party has time for an 13 minute cautionary epic that finds time to include Charlie Brown, Linus and the Great Pumpkin. Nothing’s lost however as the song still remains a balls-to-the-wall heavy metal Halloween harangue and is essential party playlist material

Check out this single they released. Is there anything more Halloweeny-awesome then cutting your vinyl into the shape of a pumpkin and fuck all to everyone’s turntables?

This is the back image, with its sexy, high heeled and stockinged Halloween harlot leap frogging over Jack-O-Lantern. Yep, everything checks out back here.

It housed the edited version, while the Jack-O-Lantern face held it down on the front with the 13min original. I love this thing. It’s one of the coolest vinyls I’ve ever seen.

Curiously and for no apparent reason, the edited version begins with a few notes from the old standard London Bridge, via a pan flute or some such instrument. Completely random selection? Perhaps not.

Fans of Halloween 3 (and that should be all of you) may wonder if the intro is a nod to The Silver Shamrock song, itself just London Bridge with different lyrics. And it’s possible, as the 1987 album Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt. 1 post dates Season of the Witch by 5 years, plenty of time for the German heshers to throw down referentially.

And apparently they did, according to Metal-Archives.com anyway.

User “hells_unicorn” says

 “Helloween formed and began with a concept inspired by the 1982 Halloween sequel “The Season of the Witch”, one which enjoys a rather comfortable place in my library of old VHS tapes. To this day fans chant the famous Silver Shamrock jingle when the band takes the stage, as the melody can be found in full or fragmented form on most of their studio albums.”

Well, there you have it.

Appropriately the Shindig has the Silver Shamrock song lead this fucker in.

So, do as Helloween instructs, perhaps ominously considering the reference:

“Grab your mask and don’t be late.”

But beware, cause

“in the streets on Halloween the spirits will arise. Make your choice is hell or paradise.”

So, what’s it gonna be, Weeners?

For Halloween, we treat you with Halloween from Helloween.

Happy Halloween, Weeners!