Monday, October 31, 2011

SCARY TALES - Zacherley

YEAR: 1963

LABEL: Cameo-Parkway

TRACK LISTING: Scary Tales (From Mother Goose) (Version One), A-Tisket A-Casket, Hansel and Gretel, Clementine, Happy Halloween, Monster Monkey, The Spider and the Fly, A-B-C, Little Red Riding Hood, Surfboard 1-0-9, Dear Dear Valentine

BONUS TRACKS: Scary Tales (From Mother Goose) (Version Two), Scary Tales (From Mother Goose) (Version Three), Igor, Dinner With Drac Pt. 2

IMPRESSIONS: Zacherley on record is always gold but this is my least favourite of the Cool Ghoul's three original LPs. I guess the Mother Goose theme doesn't really blow my hair back but there are still some great moments on this album and really cool cover art.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Hansel and Gretel, Clementine, Happy Halloween, The Spider and the Fly, A-B-C, Little Red Riding Hood, Surfboard 1-0-9

FACT SHEET: SCARY TALES is Zacherley's third album; it can be found on cd from Collectors' Choice Music paired with the Cool Ghoul's MONSTER MASH album as well as the bonus tracks "IGOR" and "DINNER WITH DRAC PT. 2". The other bonus tracks include two different versions of "SCARY TALES (FROM MOTHER GOOSE)" which bear some explaining. From Teri Landi's cd liner notes: "The original pressing of the SCARY TALES LP offered a very interesting surprise for anyone lucky enough to discover its hidden mystery. Depending on where you set the stylus down on band 1 of side 1, you could hear one of three versions of "SCARY TALES (FROM MOTHER GOOSE)" kicking off the LP. Band 1 was cut with three separate grooves to contain three different takes of John Zacherle adding a ghoulish touch to Mother Goose nursery rhymes and famous folklore."
SPOOK ALONG WITH ZACHERLEY - Zacherley

YEAR: 1960

LABEL: Elektra

TRACK LISTING: Coolest Little Monster, A Wicked Thought, Ghoul View Commercial, A Sure Sign of Spring, Transylvania P.T.A., Frank and Drac Are Back, Come With Me To Transylvania, Spider Man Lullaby, Ring-A-Ding Ourangoutang, Baying at the Moon, Zacherley For President

IMPRESSIONS: Nothing could be better than a Zacherley album and this is my second favourite of his three original albums after the classic MONSTER MASH discussed elsewhere. SPOOK ALONG contains some of my all-time favourite Zach tracks such as "COOLEST LITTLE MONSTER" and "SPIDER MAN LULLABY".

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Coolest Little Monster, A Wicked Thought, Ghoul View Commercial, A Sure Sign of Spring, Transylvania P.T.A., Spider Man Lullaby, Baying at the Moon, Zacherley For President

FACT SHEET: SPOOK ALONG WITH ZACHERLEY is the Cool Ghoul's first album. The title is a play on Mitch Miller's TV show "SING ALONG WITH MITCH". The album was recorded with a full orchestra and produced by Stan Rhodes and Gerald Alters. The original vinyl LP came with a book and poster set tying in with the "Zacherley For President" campaign and the Ted Bates advertising agency also came up with a faux campaign platform for the Cool Ghoul.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

LUGOSI: HOLLYWOOD'S DRACULA - Various Artists

YEAR: 1997

LABEL: Truthmonger Publishing/McWhorter Greenhaw Inc.

TRACK LISTING: Organ prelude from Mystery House radio show and Robert Clarke spoken introduction - Bela Lugosi & Robert Clarke, Suite from Ocskay Brigaderos - Jim Baker & Gary Freeman, Swan Lake - Dallas Banjo Band & Art Greenhaw, Black and Tan Fantasy - Dallas Banjo Band, Variation on Gershwin's Prelude - Art Greenhaw, Lon Chaney's Gonna Get You (If You Don't Watch Out) - Art Greenhaw, Swan Lake Overture - Art Greenhaw, Brother Can You Spare A Dime? - John Walden & Dallas Banjo Band, Listen To the Lambs from WHITE ZOMBIE, White Zombie - Joel Shaw Orchestra, Texaco Star Theater (November 15, 1939) - Bela Lugosi, Variation on Hungarian Rhapsody No. 1 - Art Greenhaw, Mail Call (May 11, 1944) - Bela Lugosi, Edward Everett Horton & Gregory Ratoff, Child of the Night - Art Greenhaw, Gary D. Rhodes & Tim Cooper, We're Horrible Horrible Men - Bela Lugosi & Boris Karloff, Adaptation of Chopin's Nocturne in E-Flat - Art Greenhaw, A Hunchback Named Ygor - Art Greenhaw, The Devil Bat theme music, The Rudy Vallee Show (October 22, 1946) - Bela Lugosi & Billie Burke, Swan Lake Rock - Art Greenhaw, Candid Microphone (October 24, 1947) - Bela Lugosi, Czardas - The Light Crust Doughboys, There Are Such Things - Bela Lugosi, Lugosi: Hollywood's Dracula - Art Greenhaw, Lugosi: Hollywood's Dracula (instrumental reprise) - Art Greenhaw

IMPRESSIONS: This soundtrack cd can be enjoyed even if you haven't seen the documentary (and I actually had the cd years before I actually managed to track down the film on DVD. The cd features some tracks which have become favourites of mine and perennial Halloween listening; these include the spectacular 78rpm "White Zombie" by the Joel Shaw Orchestra (a lesser version of which appears as "Zombie" on the HALLOWEEN STOMP cd discussed elsewhere), the Bela & Boris duet "We're Horrible, Horrible Men" and the incredible scratchy but treasured "There Are Such Things" speech by Bela Lugosi which Christopher Lee later reprised in the early 70's film IN SEARCH OF DRACULA. Composer of some of the documentary's music Art Greenhaw is certainly no singer but his straining attempts to sing on "Lon Chaney's Gonna Get You" and "Lugosi: Hollywood's Dracula" are endearing even though they sound as if poor Art is vocalizing while trying to extricate himself from a tightly-wound shroud!

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Swan Lake - Dallas Banjo Band & Art Greenhaw, Lon Chaney's Gonna Get You (If You Don't Watch Out) - Art Greenhaw, Listen To the Lambs from WHITE ZOMBIE, White Zombie - Joel Shaw Orchestra, We're Horrible Horrible Men - Bela Lugosi & Boris Karloff, The Devil Bat theme music, Czardas - Light Crust Doughboys, There Are Such Things - Bela Lugosi, Lugosi: Hollywood's Dracula - Art Greenhaw, Lugosi: Hollywood's Dracula (instrumental reprise) - Art Greenhaw

FACT SHEET: LUGOSI: HOLLYWOOD'S DRACULA is the soundtrack cd of the documentary DVD of the same name chronicling the life and career of Bela Lugosi. The documentary is narrated by Robert Clarke and Rue McClanahan. "Swan Lake" was composed by Piotr Illich Tchaikovsky. "Black and Tan Fantasy" was composed by Duke Ellington. "Lon Chaney's Gonna Get You (If You Don't Watch Out)" first appeared in the MGM musical THE HOLLYWOOD REVUE OF 1929. "We're Horrible, Horrible Men" is taken from the radio show "Baker's Broadcast" from 1937 or 1938. According to Bela's widow Hope Lugosi, Bela's favourite song was "Czardas".

Friday, October 28, 2011

THE EDGAR ALLAN POE AUDIO COLLECTION - Vincent Price & Basil Rathbone

YEAR: 2000

LABEL: Caedmon

TRACK LISTING: To --, Alone, The City in the Sea, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Haunted Palace, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Black Cat, The Raven, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, The Cask of Amontillado, The Bells, Annabel Lee, Eldorado, Ligeia, The Imp of the Perverse, Morella, Berenice, The Gold Bug

IMPRESSIONS: It was so nice to see this CD box set on the audiobook shelf at my Borders in 2000. I snapped it up on 40% off day. As luck would have it, these Vincent Price and Basil Rathbone recordings were ones I hadn't managed to track down up to this point; deriving as they do from some rare 50s LPs long out of print. Price, of course, is a veteran hand at these types of records but Rathbone proves himself every bit as adept reading Poe's immortal tales of terror. The only caveat I have (and its a fairly substantial one) is that the volume level is ridiculously low on these CDs; even when I maxed the volume to put them in my ipod, they are still only just audible. For such melodiously magnificent voices, that is truly a crime worthy of a homicidal ourang-outan!

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Alone, The City in the Sea, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Haunted Palace, The Masque of the Red Death, The Black Cat, The Raven, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, The Cask of Amontillado, The Bells, Annabel Lee, Ligeia, The Imp of the Perverse, Morella

FACT SHEET: THE EDGAR ALLAN POE AUDIO COLLECTION is a 2000 5 CD set consists of several Caedmon albums of Edgar Allan Poe readings by Basil Rathbone and Vincent Price originally released in 1954. All the readings are by Basil Rathbone except LIGEIA, THE IMP OF THE PERVERSE, MORELLA, BERENICE and THE GOLD BUG which are read by Vincent Price.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

VOODOO - Richard Hayman and his Orchestra

YEAR: 1959

LABEL: Mercury

TRACK LISTING: Danse Calinda, Conjuration, Spell of Deatra, Incantation, Afro, Zombi, Voodoo, Mamba, Haiti, Midnight Ritual, Gris-Gris, Invocation

IMPRESSIONS: "Richard Hayman has here mustered his phenomenally versatile talents as musician, arranger and conductor to capture the mood of voodoo in songs whose very titles can strike awe in the listener: Conjuration . . . Spell of Deatra . . . Incantation . . . Zombi. . . Midnight Ritual. . . Gris-Gris. Here is a musical adventure that transports you into the deepest interior of Haiti. Here is the fearsome fire and the brewing pot. Here are the frightening shadows. And here, above all, are the weird rhythms and sounds of a music that is more than music because it is distilled in ritual and there are those who believe in its magical powers.
This is music to be met half-way in a quiet room with the lights dimmed. Or better still meet it all the way in the still of the night with the lights out. Then Listen! You're not alone any longer. The room is shaken with the frantic dances of the hungans - so-called priests of voodoo - and their faithful. The cauldron boils and froths. The walls echo to the cries and the wails of the believers. That's voodoo!"
--Lou Sidran

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Conjuration, Spell of Deatra, Afro, Zombi, Voodoo, Mamba, Haiti, Midnight Ritual, Invocation

FACT SHEET: Richard Hayman is an American arranger, harmonica player, and conductor. Hayman started out as a player and arranger for the Borrah Minevitch Harmonica Rascals before becoming an arranger for MGM studios during the early 1940's. He did arrangements (often uncredited) for the films Girl Crazy. Meet Me in St. Louis, and Thousands Cheer. From 1945-1950, he was musical director for the Vaughn Monroe Orchestra. Hayman is most famous for being the principal arranger at the Boston Pops Orchestra for over 30 years where his award-winning arrangements are still used today. He currently works as the Principal Pops Conductor of the Grand Rapids (MI) Symphony and Music Director of the Florida Space Coast Pops Orchestra in Cocoa, Florida.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

MONSTER BOP - Various Artists

YEAR: 1993

LABEL: Buffalo Bop

TRACK LISTING: Rockin' in the Graveyard - Jackie Morningstar, Werewolf - Carl Bonafede, Caveman Hop - Jerry Coulston, The Cat - Rod Willis, Midnight Monsters Hop - Jack & Jim, Nightmare - Scottie Stuart, Graveyard - Leroy Bowman, The Skeleton Fight - Mack Allen Smith, The Monster Hop - Jimmy Dee, Story That's True - Carl Bonafede, The Gorilla - Bert Convy, Leopard Man - Joe Wallace, Nightmare Hop - Earl Patterson, The Monster - Bobby Please, Graveyard - The Phantom Five, Caveman - Tommy Roe, Mad House Jump - The Daylighters, Jekyll and Hyde - Jim Burgett, Haunted House - Cris Kevin, The Head Hunters - Mike Fern, I'm the Wolf Man - Round Robin, Frankenstein's Den - Hollywood Flames, The Monster Hop - Bert Convy, Don't Meet Mr. Frankenstein - Carlos Casal Jr., I Was A Teenage Monster - The Keytones, You Can Get Him Frankenstein - The Castle Kings, The Gila Monster - Joe Johnson, Frankenstein Rock - Eddie Thomas, I Was A Teen-Age Caveman - Randy Luck, Frankie Frankenstein - Ivan

IMPRESSIONS: Very rare collection of 50's/early 60s horror-themed 45s most people have never heard. During the monster boom of the late 50s when SHOCK THEATER released the classic Universal monster movies to television for the first time and Forrest J. Ackerman launched FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND and Bobby "Boris" Pickett recorded MONSTER MASH, it seems like every garage band in America recorded a "monster song" in hopes of getting their big break. None of these ever did (with the exception of Tommy Roe a little later) but these songs are great rockin' monster fun.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Rockin' in the Graveyard - Jackie Morningstar, Werewolf - Carl Bonafede, Caveman Hop - Jerry Coulston, Graveyard - Leroy Bowman, The Skeleton Fight - Mack Allen Smith, The Monster Hop - Jimmy Dee, Leopard Man - Joe Wallace, Nightmare Hop - Earl Patterson, Graveyard - The Phantom Five, Mad House Jump - The Daylighters, Haunted House - Cris Kevin, The Head Hunters - Mike Fern, I'm the Wolf Man - Round Robin, Frankenstein's Den - Hollywood Flames, The Monster Hop - Bert Convy, You Can Get Him Frankenstein - The Castle Kings, The Gila Monster - Joe Johnson

FACT SHEET: This high-quality MONSTER BOP cd has been digitally remastered from the original 45s to maintain the real 50s blast of. Yes, Tommy Roe is the artist who would later have a hit with "Dizzy". And yes, Bert Convy is THE Bert Convy: the host of 70s game shows like "Tattletales" and the actor who appeared in countless TV shows like "The Snoop Sisters".

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

GHOST GALLERY - Tom Willett

YEAR: 1995

LABEL: CMH

TRACK LISTING: Introduction, The White House Ghost, The 3 Mummies, Crybaby Ghost, The Watch, Ghost Cafe, How To Meet A Nice Ghost, Never Never..., Patton, The Miracle of Santa Fe, Where the Ghosts Are, The Show Must Go On (or Saturday Night Dead), A Few Chillers

IMPRESSIONS: This one's because of Cheeks! In the 90s, this one appeared on a Halloweenie Cerpts Tape made for me by Cheeks. Several years later, I came across the actual cd. As the subtitle of the album says, these are "eerie tales based on true stories" and have more of a folklore feel instead of the fictional ghost stories found on things like the Vincent Price Caedmon albums (although they have their fair share of folklore as well). The strange thing about Tom Willett is that his voice sounds EXACTLY like Forrest J. Ackerman. Exactly exactly! As these albums go, GHOST GALLERY is an absorbing listen. Willett has a great storytelling voice and knows how to put a story across. As Willett himself explains the album: "This album should be suitable for kids over seven and dogs over one. There are stories that go well for Halloween or any night of the year. There are stories about ordinary people and presidents and Pharoahs and movie stars. What a cast!"

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: The White House Ghost, The 3 Mummies, Ghost Cafe, How To Meet A Nice Ghost, Never Never..., Patton, Where the Ghosts Are, The Show Must Go On (or Saturday Night Dead), A Few Chillers

FACT SHEET: GHOST GALLERY is a collection of "true" ghost stories read by actor Tom Willett; who has appeared in over 100 movies including MELVIN AND HOWARD and BACK TO THE FUTURE.

Monday, October 24, 2011

JEEPERS CREEPERS: GREAT SONGS FROM HORROR FILMS - Various Artists


YEAR: 2003

LABEL: Red Circle

TRACK LISTING: Who Killed Teddy Bear - Tammi Tappan, Goody Goody - Lynette Perry & Zacherley, Look For A Star - Guy Haines, I've Written A Letter To Daddy/Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? - Katherine Helmond & Remy Zaken, The Faithful Heart - Rebecca Luker, Hey You/Faro-La Faro-Li (Song of the New Wine) - Judy Kaye & the Scarlettes, Hush...Hush Sweet Charlotte - Christiane Noll, Jeepers Creepers - Sharon McNight, The Blob - Alison Fraser, Aurora - Michelle Nicastro, Mothra's Song - Theresa Finamore & Juliana A. Hansen, You're My Living Doll - Susan Gordon, Stella By Starlight - Brent Barrett, I Was A Teenage Horror Medley: You Gotta Have Ee-Ooo/Eeny Meeny Miney Moe/Daddy Bird - Jason Graae

IMPRESSIONS: This is a really unusual one and totally unique as a consequence. Most of the songs have nothing to do with a horror theme but just happened to be featured in a horror film: from Universal horror of the 40s up to the 21st century with JEEPERS CREEPERS. I had the good fortune to meet the late Richard Valley several times at monster movie conventions and he was always very enthusiastic about this album. It's a shame a second volume was never made.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Who Killed Teddy Bear? - Tammi Tappan, Goody Goody - Lynette Perry & Zacherley, Look For A Star - Guy Haines, I've Written A Letter To Daddy/Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? - Katherine Helmond & Remy Zaken, Hey You/Faro-La Faro-Li (Song of the New Wine) - Judy Kaye & the Scarlettes, The Blob - Alison Fraser, Mothra's Song - Theresa Finamore & Juliana A. Hansen

FACT SHEET: JEEPERS CREEPERS was dreamed up by SCARLET STREET MAGAZINE editor Richard Valley as a "Horror's Greatest Hits" album consisting of songs that appeared in horror films newly recorded by Broadway and Hollywood performers of today (including SOAP's Katherine Helmond). Valley pitched the idea while having dinner with SCARLET STREET managing editor Tom Amorosi and Bruce Kimmel. WHO KILLED TEDDY BEAR? is from the film of the same name. GOODY GOODY appeared in WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH HELEN? LOOK FOR A STAR was featured in CIRCUS OF HORRORS. I'VE WRITTEN A LETTER TO DADDY/WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? were both featured in that film. THE FAITHFUL HEART is from JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH. HEY YOU! is from Universal's THE MUMMY'S CURSE and FARO-LA FARO-LI can be found in FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN. HUSH...HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE is from whaddaya think? JEEPERS CREEPERS of course was featured in JEEPERS CREEPERS and THE BLOB is from THE BLOB. Monotonous, ain't it? AURORA is from Abbott & Costello's HOLD THAT GHOST. MOTHRA'S SONG was originally performed by the Peanuts in MOTHRA. YOU'RE MY LIVING DOLL appeared in ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE. STELLA BY STARLIGHT of course is the classic from THE UNINVITED. YOU GOTTA HAVE EE-OOO is from HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER, EENY MEENY MINEY MOE is from I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF and DADDY BIRD is from FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER. The wonderful cover art was done by monster artist extraordinaire Frank Dietz.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

THE MONSTER ROCK 'N' ROLL SHOW - Various Artists


YEAR: 1990

LABEL:

TRACK LISTING: Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett, The Haunted Strangler (Movie Trailer), Bo Meets the Monster - Bo Diddley, I Was A Teenage Frankenstein/Blood of Dracula (Movie Trailers), Midnight Stroll - The Revels, Frankenstein of '59 - Buchanan & Goodman, Frankenstein's Den - The Hollywood Flames, Horror of Dracula (Movie Trailer), Screamin' Ball at Dracula Hall - The Duponts, I Was A Teenage Werewolf (Movie Trailer), Werewolf - Five Man Electrical Band, The Mummy (Movie Trailer), Haunted House - Johnny Fuller, Black Sunday (Movie Trailer), Feast of the Mau Mau - Screamin' Jay Hawkins, The Amazing Colossal Man (Movie Trailer), Witch Queen of New Orleans - Redbone, 4-D Man (Movie Trailer), Castin' My Spell - The Johnny Otis Show featuring Marci Lee, The Thing That Couldn't Die (Movie Trailer), The Green Slime - The Green Slime, The She Creature/It Conquered the World (Movie Trailers), Lil Red Riding Hood - Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs, The Astro-Zombies (Movie Trailer), I Ain't Superstitious - Howlin' Wolf, Frankenstein Returns (Part II) - Buchanan & Goodman, Morgus the Magnificent - Morgus & the Ghouls, King Kong (Movie Trailer), The Purple People Eater - Sheb Wooley

IMPRESSIONS: This is a collection of Halloweenie songs which are interspersed with movie trailers/radio ads -- this give the cd a nice, out of the ordinary feel as these cd collections go. Not to mention that several of the songs are not the usual overplayed ones (although those are here as well).

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett, The Haunted Strangler (Movie Trailer), I Was A Teenage Frankenstein/Blood of Dracula (Movie Trailers), Midnight Stroll - The Revels, Frankenstein of '59 - Buchanan & Goodman, Frankenstein's Den - The Hollywood Flames, Horror of Dracula (Movie Trailer), Screamin' Ball at Dracula Hall - The Duponts, The Mummy (Movie Trailer), Witch Queen of New Orleans - Redbone, Castin' My Spell - The Johnny Otis Show featuring Marci Lee, The Green Slime - The Green Slime, The Astro-Zombies (Movie Trailer), Frankenstein Returns (Part II) - Buchanan & Goodman, Morgus the Magnifient - Morgus & the Ghouls, King Kong (Movie Trailer)

FACT SHEET: THE HAUNTED STRANGLER trailer is nicely narrated by Boris Karloff himself. Other than that, I got nuttin'.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

SCARY SPOOKY STORIES - Various Artists



YEAR: 1973

LABEL: Troll Records

TRACK LISTING: The Dare, Dark Dark Dark, Big 'Fraid Little 'Fraid, Wait Til Martin Comes, The Skinny Toe, The Thing at the Foot of the Bed

IMPRESSIONS: "Here are six famous stories narrated with all the chills and thrills that made them so successful around campfires on late summer evenings or in darkened rooms on cold and rainy winter nights." says the liner notes on the back of the LP. These readings are similar to recordings like the Folktellers but they seem to be intended for a younger audience. If the stories aren't all that scary, the album cover is one of the greatest ever made and helps put you in the mood for some spookiness.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: The Dare, Dark Dark Dark, Wait Til Martin Comes, The Thing at the Foot of the Bed

FACT SHEET: SCARY SPOOKY STORIES is the first in a series of four albums of terror tales put out by Troll Records in the 1970s; the other three include "GREAT GHOST STORIES", "THRILLERS AND CHILLERS" and "WEIRD TALES OF THE UNKNOWN". The stories are read by Ralph Bell, Robert Dryden and Daniel Ocko; all three actors who appeared on the CBS Radio Workshop.

Friday, October 21, 2011

TALES OF THE FRIGHTENED VOL. 1 & 2 - Boris Karloff

YEAR: 1963

LABEL: Mercury

TRACK LISTING: Call At Midnight, Just Inside the Cemetery, The Fortune Teller, The Man In the Raincoat, The Deadly Dress, The Hand of Fate, Don't Lose Your Head, The Vampire Sleeps, Horror of Death, Never Kick a Black Cat, The Ladder, Nightmare, Voice From the Grave

IMPRESSIONS: Are you one of the frightened? What could be better than Uncle Boris reading us dead-time stories??? That's right - nothing! One of these tales -- "The Hand of Fate" -- was recited by Karloff almost verbatim in Peter Bogdanovich's film TARGETS; the old master did it in one take and the entire cast and crew broke out into applause.

MY FAVOURTE TRACKS: Call at Midnight, Just Inside the Cemetery, The Fortune Teller, The Man in the Raincoat, The Hand of Fate, Don't Lose Your Head, The Vampire Sleeps, Never Kick a Black Cat, Voice From the Grave

FACT SHEET: TALES OF THE FRIGHTENED is a two-record set of recordings of short horror tales written by Michael Avallone (author of childhood favourites "THE GHOST THAT CAME ALIVE" and some of the Partridge Family mystery novels I devoured as a boy) and read by Boris Karloff. In 1956, Avallone edited a pulp magazine called "TALES OF THE FRIGHTENED" which was supposed to be a launching pad for a radio programme of the same name hosted by Boris Karloff. The show never came to be so the stories were turned into a paperback book of 26 tales. The albums featured strange electronic music taken from a 1957 album called "ELECTRONIC MUSIC" by "The Electrosoniks". In 2010, Avallone's son David came out with a new "tribute" album of TALES OF THE FRIGHTENED with his father's stories read by actor Vernon Wells and music by Eban Schletter.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

HAMMER PRESENTS DRACULA - Christopher Lee



YEAR: 1974

LABEL: EMI

TRACK LISTING: Dracula, Fear In the Night, She, Vampire Lovers, Doctor Jekyll and Sister Hyde

IMPRESSIONS: In the days before VCRs, it must've been a spectacular treat to drop the needle onto a record of the Hammer version of Dracula (however unrelated to the actual movies) starring Christopher Lee himself. Even the second side, consisting of film music from some rather minor Hammer Horrors, must still have been a situation of beggars cannot certainly be chosers; you were very unlikely back in the day to find a record containing ANY film music from Hammer films so this was a rarity indeed.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Dracula

FACT SHEET: HAMMER PRESENTS DRACULA features an album-side length track entitled "DRACULA" featuring Christopher Lee as well as an introduction by Bill Mitchell and the classic Dracula music by James Bernard. Side Two of the album featured soundtrack music from the Hammer Horrors "Fear In the Night", "She", "Vampire Lovers" and "Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde".

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

TALES OF WITCHES, GHOSTS AND GOBLINS - Vincent Price

YEAR: 1972

LABEL: Caedmon

TRACK LISTING: The Smoker, Prayer, To Become A Werewolf, To Raise the Dead, The Witches' Reel, The Broomstick Train, Sweden, The Phantom Merry-Go-Round, A Pair of Gloves, Gobbleknoll, The Lone Grave

IMPRESSIONS: Another one of those classic 1970s Vinnie albums from Caedmon. This one combines short stories with sort-of textbook (or grimoire) lessons on witchcraft and spells which Vincent Price was so generous as to pass along to us monster kids.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: The Smoker, Prayer, To Become A Werewolf, To Raise the Dead, The Witches' Reel, Sweden, A Pair of Gloves, The Lone Grave

FACT SHEET: See Vincent Price's album A HORNBOOK FOR WITCHES elsewhere on this blog by clicking the "Vincent Price" label

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

HALLOWEEN CLASSICS: SONGS THAT SCARED THE BLOOMERS OFF YOUR GREAT GRANDMA - Various Artists

YEAR: 2007

LABEL: Sony

TRACK LISTING: Hush Hush Hush (Here Comes the Boogie Man) - Henry Hall, It Must Be Swell - Alex Bartha & His Hotel Traymore Orchestra, Mr. Ghost Goes To Town - The Five Jones Boys, T'Ain't No Sin (To Take Off Your Skin) - Fred Hall, Ghost in the Graveyard - Prairie Ramblers, Ol' Man Mose - Wingy Mannone, The Ghost of Smoky Joe - Cab Calloway, Skeleton in the Closet - Putney Dandridge, The Ghost Walk - Borrah Minevich & the Harmonica Rascals, The Boogie Man - Todd Rollins with Chick Bullock, Hell's Bells - Art Kassel & His Orchestra, Mysterious Mose - Rube Bloom, Minnie the Moocher at the Morgue - Smiley Burnette, With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm - Rudy Vallee & His Connecticut Yankees

IMPRESSIONS: This is a really nice collection of Halloween songs which come from 78's. While there are a few duplications from the previous magnificent Jass Records cd HALLOWEEN STOMP (Cab Calloway's "The Ghost of Smoky Joe", "The Boogie Man" by Todd Rollins with Chick Bullock and Rudy Vallee's "With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm"), the interesting thing is that there are also songs here from HALLOWEEN STOMP but by different artists so you get another interpretation of STOMP classics like "Mr. Ghost Goes To Town", "Skeleton in the Closet", "Hell's Bells" and "Mysterious Mose".

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Hush Hush Hush (Here Comes the Boogie Man) - Henry Hall, Mr. Ghost Goes To Town - The Five Jones Boys, Ghost in the Graveyard - Prairie Ramblers, Ol' Man Mose - Wingy Mannone, The Ghost of Smoky Joe - Cab Calloway, The Skeleton in the Closet - Putney Dandridge, The Ghost Walk - Borrah Minevich & the Harmonica Rascals, The Boogie Man - Todd Rollins (with Chick Bullock), Mysterious Mose - Rube Bloom, Minnie the Moocher at the Morgue - Smiley Burnette, With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm - Rudy Vallee & His Connecticut Yankees

FACT SHEET: Uh......I got nothin'.

Monday, October 17, 2011

THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN: THE FRANZ WAXMAN SCORE - The Westminster Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Alwyn

YEAR: 1993

LABEL: Silva

TRACK LISTING: The Bride of Frankenstein - Main Title, Prologue - Menuetto and Storm, Monster Entrance, Processional March, A Strange Apparition/Pretorius' Entrance/You Will Need A Coat, Bottle Sequence, Female Monster Music/Pastoral/Village/Chase, Crucifixion/Monster Breaks Out, Fire in the Hut/Graveyard, Dance Macabre, The Creation, The Tower Explodes and Finale, The Invisible Ray Suite

IMPRESSIONS: This is another of my favourite film soundtracks and how can any horror fan not love it? This score, along with Max Steiner's 1933 KING KONG score, are two of the most influential and groundbreaking scores not only in the genre of horror but in motion pictures full stop. One can recall the original 1931 DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN films had a snippet of "Swan Lake" over the opening credits and that was it; here we have a film awash in the spectacular scoring provided by Waxman which no horror fan can hear without immediately being taken back to the first time he saw this classic monster movie. A funny side story concerns the famous three-note leitmotif for the Bride; Rogers & Hammerstein unconsciouly plagiarized it for their song "Bali Hai" in SOUTH PACIFIC. According to legend, when Franz Waxman heard "Bali Hai" for the first time he sent a telegram to the two broadway composers which simply read: "You're welcome".

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: I hate to take the easy way out but, with such and iconic score, truly all of 'em.

FACT SHEET: THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN is a 1935 film from Universal directed by James Whale. The extensive score composed by Franz Waxman was revolutionary for its time and highly influential. The original score was orchestrated by Clifford Vaughan who used "organ sonorities" to achieve a very distinct sound and colouring to the score. Waxman was so pleased with the orchestration that, when he signed a contract with MGM in 1936 he specifically recruited Vaughan to orchestrate for him. Waxman's score for BRIDE used whole tone scales rather than the more traditional diatonic scales for most of the musical cues. Whole tone scales have only six notes to the octave; each interval in the scale composed of a whole tone. Claude Debussy used this technique and Waxman presumably employed whole tone scales to give the music a "restless" feeling. Waxman usually used leitmotifs for individual characters in the score whenever they appeared on the screen. Aside from BRIDE, the album also includes a reconstructed "suite" of Waxman's musical cues from the Boris Karloff/Bela Lugosi starrer THE INVISIBLE RAY. Since no musical manuscript for the film survives, Steven R. Bernstein orchestrated the suite completely by ear from recording's of the movie's soundtrack.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

WITCHCRAFT & MAGIC: AN ADVENTURE IN DEMONOLOGY - Vincent Price

YEAR: 1969

LABEL: Capitol

TRACK LISTINGS: Prologue - The Tale of Master Seth, Hitler and Witchcraft - Witchcraft in History, Women as Witches - Witch Burning, Witch Tortures, Witch Tortures (continued) - The World of Spirits and Demons, Preparation for Magic - Instruments of Magic, How To Invoke Spirits, Demons, Unseen Forces - The Magic Bloodstone, The Witches' Cauldron - How To Communicate with the Spirits, How To Communicate with the Spirits (continued) - Gerald Yorke and Necromancy, How To Make A Pact with the Devil - How To Become a Witch, Curses, Spells, Charms, Curses, Spells, Charms (continued) - Potions, The Hand of Glory - The Witches' Sabbat, Witchcraft Today - Epilogue

IMPRESSIONS: This is a super Halloween album which is quite unlike the lighter toned Caedmon albums (which featured poetry and spooky tales mostly) Price would record in the 1970s and it's a really great atmospherically spooky listen. It's also filled with a lot of informative stuff concerning the history of witchcraft and its practices; the accuracy of which depends on how much credence you give to occult matters. This is a perfect representation of the upswing in general interest in the occult which boomed in the late 60s into the 1970s.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Despite the breaking up of the album into tracks, this is more like a 100+ minute lecture and therefore my fave tracks would be all of 'em; it has to be listened to as a whole.

FACT SHEET: This album has been variously referred to as WITCHCRAFT & MAGIC: AN ADVENTURE IN DEMONOLOGY as well as THE SECRETS OF WITCHCRAFT & MAGIC REVEALED. It was originally released as a two-record set. The text performed by Vincent Price was written & directed by Terry D'Oberoff. The album was produced by Roger Karshner and also features some early synthesizer by Douglas Leedy which provides not only a spooky drone but also sound effects like howling winds and bubbling cauldrons. Price apparently recorded the entire 122 page text in one 5 hour session; the best sections were edited together to make the album. There are also actresses interspersed between certain tracks reciting lines from Shakespeare's MACBETH by the three witches.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

TALES OF TERROR - Nelson Olmsted



YEAR: 1956

LABEL: Vanguard

TRACK LISTING: The Pit and the Pendulum, A Cask of Amontillado, The Tell-Tale Heart, Masque of the Red Death, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Strange Case of M. Valdemar, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, The Signal Man, What Was It?, The Mummy's Foot, Markheim, The Body Snatcher

IMPRESSIONS: Whereas this 2 record set was made up of two Nelson Olmsted albums released in 1956, I bought the 1970's vinyl reissue sometime around the late 70s. This too I bought at the Wee Three Records in the Moorestown Mall. Nelson Olmsted's voice is perfect for storytelling (hence his being in such great demand as an old-time radio actor) and his voice perfectly brings to life these stories. The tales are actually very efficiently condensed into tracks which last around 8-9 minutes a piece without losing any of the major story points. Probably my favourite piece on the album is "WHAT WAS IT?": the story of a strange invisible creature captured by the narrator. Of course, there's also THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER which is another favourite.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: The Pit and the Pendulum, A Cask of Amontillado, The Tell-Tale Heart, Masque of the Red Death, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Strange Case of M. Valdemar, What Was It?, The Mummy's Foot, The Body Snatcher

FACT SHEET: TALES OF TERROR is a two-record set which was actually culled from two separate 1956 LPs by Nelson Olmsted: SLEEP NO MORE and TALES OF TERROR. Nelson Olmsted was a very busy radio actor as well as a character actor in films; his radio show (also entitled "Sleep No More") is the basis of these recordings. The first record of the set features all Edgar Allan Poe tales except for Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge". The second record features Charles Dickens' "The Signal Man" and "Markheim" as well as Fitz-James O'Brien's "What Was It?" and Theophile Gautier's "The Mummy's Foot".

Friday, October 14, 2011

SCREEMERS - Various Artists




YEAR: 1996

LABEL: RCA Victor

TRACK LISTING: The Monster - A Pair of Kings, The Mad Doctor & the Creature - Joe Reisman & His Orchestra, Bob & Ray Visit Doctor Ahkbar at the Castle - Bob & Ray, The Addams Family - Vic Mizzy, Bob & Ray in the Round Room - Bob & Ray, Jabberwock Song - Jack Palance, The Thing - Bob & Ray, The Werewolf Watusi - Bobby "Boris" Pickett, Purple People Eater - Hans Conreid, Drac the Knife - Gene Moss, Bob & Ray in the Laboratory - Bob & Ray, The Invisible Man - Alice Pearce, Haunted Guitar - The Three Suns, The Monster Swim - Bobby "Boris" Pickett, The End - Bob & Ray, The Green Bee - Bernie Green & His Orchestra

IMPRESSIONS: In the mid-90's, RCA released this cd of Halloween songs that carefully eschewed the usual overplayed songs like "Monster Mash" or "Haunted House" etc. Featured here is a collection of Halloween songs most people will not have heard. As the liner notes state: "SCREEMERS is a Halloween record with a difference. Instead of recycling the same old tired Halloween songs, SCREEMERS offers 16 rare seasonal tracks."

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: The Monster - A Pair of Kings, Bob & Ray Visit Doctor Ahkbar at the Castle - Bob & Ray, Bob & Ray in the Round Room - Bob & Ray, Jabberwock Song - Jack Palance, The Thing - Bob & Ray, The Werewolf Watusi - Bobby "Boris" Pickett, Drac the Knife - Gene Moss, Bob & Ray in the Laboratory - Bob & Ray, The Invisible Man - Alice Pearce, Haunted Guitar - The Three Suns, The Monster Swim - Bobby "Boris" Pickett, The End - Bob & Ray

FACT SHEET: SCREEMERS is a compilation of rarely-heard Halloween songs. The several Bob & Ray tracks on this cd come from the Bob & Ray Stereo Spectacular album which came out in the time of stereophonic demonstration albums; the funny part is this ISN'T the actual Bob & Ray comedy team but a pair of imposter comedians whose first names just happen to be Bob & Ray. I'm sure there was no deception intended. (!) The Hans Conreid and Alice Pearce songs are from their rare album MONSTER RALLY.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

THE ORIGINAL MONSTER MASH - Bobby "Boris" Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers

YEAR: 1962

LABEL: Garpax/London/Deram

TRACK LISTING: Monster Mash, Rabian - The Fiendage Idol, Blood Bank Blues, Graveyard Shift, Skully Gully, Wolfbane, Monster Minuet, Transylvania Twist, Sinister Stomp, Me and My Mummy, Monster Motion, Monster Mash Party, Irresistible Igor, Bella's Bash, Let's Fly Away

BONUS TRACKS: Monster's Holiday

IMPRESSIONS: The song "Monster Mash" looms large amongst any conversation about Halloween music. Halloween probably wouldn't be Halloween without it and the song is in fact strong enough not to suffer from over-play. However, the album itself is cute but a rather anemic affair (especially when compared to Zacherley's MONSTER MASH album which is much stronger). "Sinister Stomp" is actually almost the exact same music as "Monster Mash" while several of the other songs are muted parodies of then-current dance crazes like "the Mashed Potato" that are nowhere near as successful as Zacherley's (owing to the fact all of the Cool Ghoul's songs on his album use the exact same musical track recordings as the original hits). The songs on Pickett's albums which actually work the best are the non-singing ones ("Bella's Bash", "Monster Minuet") which rely on more sketch-comedy antics and Pickett's patented Karloff and Lugosi impressions. The album may be a tad weak but it's still worth a listen or two around Halloween.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Monster Mash, Blood Bank Blues, Wolfbane, Monster Minuet, Me and My Mummy, Monster Mash Party, Irresistible Igor, Bella's Bash, Monster's Holiday

GUEST ARTISTS: Leon Russell

FACT SHEET: MONSTER MASH is Bobby "Boris" Pickett's first album deriving from the success of the single "Monster Mash" which went to number one on the Billboard charts in 1962. While singing with a band called The Cordials, Pickett offhandedly performed a version of the Diamonds' song "Little Darlin'" in a Boris Karloff voice. The audience loved it and bandmate Lenny Caprizzi urged Pickett to do something with the idea. Pickett and Caprizzi wrote the song "Monster Mash"and recorded it with Gary S. Paxton, Johnny McCrae, Rickie Page and Terry Berg as the Crypt-Kickers. Another member of the Crypt-Kickers was Leon Russell but he arrived late for the recording session and only appears on the b-side "Monster Mash Party". After the success of the single, an album was built around the song with Pickett doing his Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi impressions. There are scores of cover versions of the song "Monster Mash" from Zacherley, the Bonzo Dog Band, Andrew Gold, the Dead Elvi, the Misfits and even Vincent Price; however the song "Monster's Holiday" was also covered by Lon Chaney Jr.! "Rabian-The Fiendage Idol" is a parody of then-current teenybopper fave Fabian while "Let's Fly Away" is a parody of a parody: Stan Freberg's "John and Marsha" sketch.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

MONSTER MASH - Dr. Shock

YEAR: 1978

TRACK LISTING: Monster Mash, Monster Party, Monster Holiday, Monster Boogie (Part 1), Monster Boogie (Part 2), Dr. Shock Theme/Let There Be Fright, Creepy Crawlin', Three-Eyed Martians, Frankenstein Was A Soul Brother, Tale of Haunted Hill

IMPRESSIONS: It seems very appropriate that Dr. Shock's MONSTER MASH album should be the album which appears as the 100th post on this site -- occurring as it does right smack dab in the middle of the Halloween Countdown. The beloved and much-missed Shocky Doc was the horror host I grew up with on TV. If you never grew up watching a TV horror host. . .well, yes, you're missing a lot and can never quite understand the special place in our hearts for these delightful macabre misfits. A great deal of the love of horror and science fiction which we genre fans now possess owes a great deal to the TV horror hosts which brought these films to our bewildered eyes -- many for the very first time. Sadly for myself and the legions of Dr. Shock fans out there, no video seems to have survived except the one hour tribute special aired by Channel 17 to mark Zawislak's passing in 1979; this special aired without commercial interruption (an unheard of event in 1979 or, indeed, today) and featured clips from the Doctor's decade of shows. I owe a special thanks to Dr. Shock's daughter Bubbles (who appeared on the show with her father for 10 years) and the great man's son Joe Jr. for both providing me with a DVD of the TRIBUTE TO DR. SHOCK programme which I will always cherish. The video footage may be mostly gone, but my memories of Saturday afternoon's with Dr. Shock will never fade.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: All of 'em.

FACT SHEET: MONSTER MASH is Dr. Shock's one and only album ever released. Dr. Shock was the TV horror host I grew up with; he presided over the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley area (which encompased my own South Jersey) on UHF Channel 17 from 1970 to his death in 1979. He started first on the late-night programme SCREAM-IN and then moved to Saturday afternoons with his double feature MAD THEATER and HORROR THEATER. Dr. Shock was magician Joe Zawislak who actually requested of John Zacherley the chance to do a vamp on his makeup and character after Zacherley moved from Philadelphia to the New York TV market. Zacherley gave his blessing and Dr. Shock was born. This rare album was a locally-produced platter released only a year before Zawislak's death.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

GHOSTLY SOUNDS - Peter Waldron and Gershon Kingsley

YEAR: 1975

LABEL: Peter Pan

TRACK LISTING: Ghostly Sounds, The Ghosts From Outer Space

IMPRESSIONS: Apparently this lil album is well-beloved and remembered by children of the 70s (PRESENT, sir!!!) not only for one of the greatest album covers in all creation but also for the splendidly evocative moogtastic synth work by Gershon Kingsley. Let us not forget the dulcet tones of Peter Waldron whose narration takes its time for full creepy effect; the sombre intonations are pure Halloween for me. Side one's intro section starting with wolf howls and ambient spookiness under Waldron's nearly whispered soliloquy "Night falls. . .the forest holds its breath..." is simply unequaled in any other "Halloween" record I've ever heard. It's one of the most appropriate tours of Halloween you're likely to find. Even side two's "GHOSTS FROM OUTER SPACE" may seem odd at first but Waldron's classic opening line will put all doubts to rest: "Once upon a star far far away past the moon and Mars and Jupiter . . . . there were ghosts." The much-missed blog "Scar Stuff" points out the marvelously experimental aspect of this album: "...the curious use of human voices for most sound effects (to simulate working, a guy actually says 'work') nicely expose the avant garde influences that were at play on a lot of children's records in the late 60s & early 70s". If ever an old kids Halloween record demanded release on cd, this is the one; not only can it be loved by kids but also fully appreciated by adults.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Ghostly Sounds, The Ghosts From Outer Space

FACT SHEET: GHOSTLY SOUNDS is an album of two album side-spanning stories for Halloween; it is not a sound effects record. The storytelling is by Peter Waldron and the music/moog effects are by Gershon Kingsley. Kingsley is famous for his hit single "Popcorn" as well as his musical collaborations with Jean-Jacques Perrey on such classic lounge/exotica albums as "THE IN SOUND FROM WAY OUT". The classic album cover artwork is by all-time champ children's record cover artist George Peed; among many other projects Peed did the character designs for the TV cartoon THE MIGHTY HERCULES.

Monday, October 10, 2011

TERROR TALES - The Old Sea Hag (Martha Wentworth)

YEAR: 1959

LABEL: Liberty

TRACK LISTING: Terror Train, Mice From Outer Space, Devil Octopus, Shipwreck, The Spooky Wheer, Slumber Nice

IMPRESSIONS: I got this album originally from friend Roxor in the Monster Club Forum; for several years we sent each other goodie packages of movies and music before losing track of each other. TERROR TALES is a wonderfully atmospheric spooky recording which starts out like an old-time radio horror programme like "INNER SANCTUM" or, more apropos, "THE WITCH'S TALE" as the Old Sea Hag enters and prepares to spin us some horror yarns with a particularly nautical flavour. Martha Wentworth's experience as a radio drama actress serves her in good stead here because the album does indeed play like an old radio show but done by a one-woman storyteller. Wentworth also has a magnificently frightening evil laugh; not in a cute way but actually very startling and nasty sounding. Wonderful! She sounds like she's really getting into the "spirit" of things (sorry); according to her dedication on the album cover: "'TERROR TALES!' is dedicated to all who seek a new thrill in entertainment... (And a new thrill in stereo sound). It is for all hosts and hostesses who seek a different pleasure for their guests... (And for themselves). It is dedicated to all persons whose bedrooms are inhabited by friendly ghosts... (And who can't sleep at night anyway). It is dedicated to the entertainment of people -- (To all who savor a frightening story uniquely told). 'TERROR TALES!', friend, is dedicated to you!!!"

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: All of 'em

FACT SHEET: Martha Wentworth was a radio actress who began working in films during the 1940s. Wentworth appeared in DAUGHTER OF DR. JEKYLL (1957), Disney's 101 DALMATIONS and THE SWORD IN THE STONE. She also had a varied television career in programmes ranging from "DRAGNET" to "PERRY MASON" to "LASSIE". She created the character of the Old Sea Hag Mariah Halkins specifically for this album along with writer Robert P. Hamilton. According to the liner notes: "...the Old Sea Hag, Mariah Halkins, [comes] from a combination of two unrelated and different personalities. One, a person of unknown age and origin, was encountered by Miss Wentworth on the Island of Nantucket in Massachusetts many years ago, the other was drawn from a study of William Shakespeare's immortal comedies. Her dedication to the plays and poetry of the incomparable bard prompted her to transpose many of his characters into the simpler terms of modern drama. The Old Sea Hag has now become a composite of all the electrifying eccentrics the world over... an ancient woman of the sea whose beginnings are relegated to the frothy oceans of conjecture."

Sunday, October 9, 2011

ELVIRA PRESENTS HAUNTED HITS - Various Artists



YEAR: 1988

LABEL: Rhino

TRACK LISTING: Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett, Haunted House - Jumpin' Gene Simmons, Ghostbusters - Ray Parker Jr., Out of Limits - The Marketts, The Blob - The Five Blobs, The Creature from the Black Lagoon - Dave Edmunds, The Purple People Eater - Sheb Wooley, The Addams Family (Main Title) - Vic Mizzy, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes - Lewis Lee, Welcome To My Nightmare - Alice Cooper, Dead Man's Party - Oingo Boingo, Twilight Zone - Neil Norman & His Cosmic Orchestra, Little Demon - Screamin' Jay Hawkin, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman - The Tubes, King Kong - Big 'T' Tyler, The Creature - The Jayhawks, Halloween Spooks - Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, Horror Movie - The Skyhooks, I Put A Spell On You - Screamin' Jay Hawkins, I Was A Teenage Werewolf - The Cramps, Voodoo Voodoo - LaVern Baker, Martian Hop - The Ran-Dells, Full Moon - Elvira

IMPRESSIONS: In 1988 when I picked up this 2 record set on vinyl, it was a pretty nice collection of Halloweenie songs all in one place. Despite the old favourites, there were several new songs I hadn't heard up until that time which have now become old favourites of mine as well. It's sad that several songs were dropped when the album came out on cd but most of them appear later on Elvira's "Monster Hits" series of EPs which came out in the 1999s. Oh, by the way I just thought I'd take this opportunity to say that I absolutely HATE HATE HATE Jumpin' Gene Simmons' song "Haunted House"; one of the most inanely repetitive and boring songs ever created in the history of Western Civilisation already!

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett, The Blob - The Five Blobs, The Creature from the Black Lagoon - Dave Edmunds, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes - Lewis Lee, Welcome To My Nightmare - Alice Cooper, Dead Man's Party - Oingo Boingo, Halloween Spooks - Lambert, Kendricks & Ross, Horror Movie - The Skyhooks, I Put A Spell On You - Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Voodoo Voodoo - LaVern Baker, Martian Hop - The Ran-Dells, Full Moon - Elvira

FACT SHEET: HAUNTED HITS is Elvira's second compilation album of Halloweenie songs after Rhino Records' released ELVIRA'S VINYL MACABRE several years earlier. Since the original vinyl LP was a two-record set and the cd reissue of HAUNTED HITS was a single cd, several songs were dropped and do not appear on the cd version of this album: say goodbye to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes by Lewis Lee, Little Demon by Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman by The Tubes, King Kong by Big 'T' Tyler, The Creature by the Jayhawks and Martian Hop by the Ran-Dells.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

AN EVENING WITH BORIS KARLOFF & HIS FRIENDS - Boris Karloff


YEAR: 1967

LABEL: MCA

TRACK LISTING: Introduction, Dracula, All About the Monster, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Son of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The House of Frankenstein, Finale

IMPRESSIONS: What could be more Halloweenie than the King of Horror talking about the classic golden age of Universal horror?!?! All right, I suppose if they had Karloff sitting on a pumpkin while he was doing it. But hey, maybe they DID! One wishes this album went on a little longer but what we have is a treasure trove of frightful fun. There's no mistaking that style of writing in the script; if one didn't know Forrest J. Ackerman wrote it one could easily guess it was the work of the creator of "FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND" magazine.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: The whole album

FACT SHEET: AN EVENING WITH BORIS KARLOFF & HIS FRIENDS was recorded at the Magic Castle in Hollyweird, Karloffornia in 1967. Verne Langdon and Milt Larsen produced and Forrest J. Ackerman wrote the script for Boris to perform. The album consists of Karloff's narration interspersed with audio clips from the classic Universal horror films of the 1930s and 1940s which are under discussion.

Friday, October 7, 2011

THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (Original Motion Picture Score) - Bernard Herrmann/Elmer Bernstein


YEAR: 1975

LABEL: Varese Saraband

TRACK LISTING: Prelude/Local Train/The Sea, The Ghost/The Storm/The Apparition, The Lights/Bedtime, Poetry, Lucia/Dictation/Boyhood's End/Pastoral, Nocturne, London/The Reading/Local Train, The Spring Sea, Romance/Love/Farewell, The Home/Sorrow, The Passing Years/The Late Sea, Forever

IMPRESSIONS: This is one of my favourite film scores. It's lush and romantic and probably not what you'd think about when you think about Halloween music. This score, as an anonymous reviewer in the September 1947 issue of "Film Music Notes" wrote, has "...many passages of quiet loveliness"; it perfectly evokes the romantic ghost story of the film as well as the note of sadness which pervades the movie and a certain note of loneliness in the sound of this exquisite film music. Halloween does not have to be all blood and thunder and sometimes ghost stories are quiet and romantic evoking solitude; THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (the film and the score) are a prime example of this.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Prelude/Local Train/The Sea, The Ghost/The Storm/The Apparition, The Lights/Bedtime, Poetry, Nocturne, The Spring Sea, Romance/Love/Farewell, The Home/Sorrow, The Passing Years/The Late Sea, Forever

FACT SHEET: THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR is Bernard Herrmann's 7th film score composed for the 1947 20th Century Fox film starring Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison and George Sanders. Herrmann was a relatively little known young film composer when he scored this film. Following his usual custom, Herrmann orchestrated the entire score himself; it is mostly symphonic in texture with limited use of percussion or brass. In many sections, the size of the orchestra is greatly reduced and many pieces use a very limited musical palette generally of woodwinds. There are approximately 52 minutes of music in the film; this cd contains 38 minutes or around 3/4ths of the entire score. Small musical cues have been grouped together into continuous music to avoid a great many small cuts of music of less than a minute's duration. This particular recording of Bernard Herrmann's score is conducted by fellow film composer Elmer Bernstein.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

CHILLERS - The Folktellers




YEAR: 1983


LABEL: Mama T Artists


TRACK LISTING: Mary Culhane and the Dead Man, The Calico Coffin, Old Woman All Skin and Bones, How To Turn Into A Witch, Mr. Fox, The Wonderful Wood, The Ghoul


IMPRESSIONS: This is an album first brought to my attention back in the late 1980s when my friend Cheeks was housesitting for some friends who lived in a wonderful house in the forest right on a lake. I loved that house and, as often as he would housesit, he'd let me know to come over and hang out. When he first began housesitting, Cheeks perused their record collection and made a few tapes of anything interesting he'd find; among it all was the CHILLERS album by the Folktellers which totally captivated me. I love anyone who can tell a good story and these ladies are some of the best. In Connie Regan's own words: "Storytelling is so personal and because of that, it has great power to move people in the same way great music moves them." Years later, I tracked down my own vinyl copy of CHILLERS as well as a few other Folktellers albums on LP and cassette.


MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Mary Culhane and the Dead Man, The Calico Coffin, Old Woman All Skin and Bones, Mr. Fox, The Ghoul


FACT SHEET: CHILLERS is the Folktellers' third album. The Folktellers are Barbara Freeman and Connie Regan: cousins who quit their jobs as librarians at the Chattanooga Public Library in Tennessee in 1975 in order to become travelling storytellers. CHILLERS was recorded on Halloween night in front of a live audience. The album features a gold seal on the cover indicating it as an American Library Association "Notable Record"). Tales include tradition folk tales as well as stories written by Jack Prelutsky, Molly Garrett Bang, Lee Pennington and Julia Ruth Richardson.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

WALK AMONG US - The Misfits

YEAR: 1982

LABEL: Ruby

TRACK LISTING: 20 Eyes, I Turned Into A Martian, All Hell Breaks Loose, Vampira, Nike a Go Go, Hatebreeders, Mommy Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight (Live), Night of the Living Dead, Skulls, Violent World, Devil's Whorehouse, Astro Zombies, Braineaters

IMPRESSIONS: This album, the band's first full-length album release, is rightly considered the granddaddy of horror-punk. And the Misfits are Glenn Danzig. Period. There is no Misfits without Glenn Danzig. As with pretty much anything recorded by the Misfits, this album is sure as shootin' perfect for Halloween listening. The album cover also features colours I strongly associate with Halloween: purple and green. I think I can trace this connection back to the mid-1970s when, as a kid at my grandmother Nanny's row-home on Terrace Avenue in Pennsauken, I (and my cousins Jimmy and Kathy) were given boxes of "Halloween cookies" which I remember came in a purple and green box. These were small chocolate chip cookies (about the size of Famous Amos' cookies) but were shaped and carved-out as the heads of Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula, the Mummy and the Wolf Man. I've never been able to track down a photo of these cookies online but somebody somewhere must know what they are and I'd love to see them again.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: 20 Eyes, I Turned Into A Martian, Vampira, Hatebreeders, Mommy Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight (Live), Night of the Living Dead, Skulls, Devil's Whorehouse, Astro Zombies, Braineaters

FACT SHEET: WALK AMONG US is the Misfits' first album although its their 8th release; however everything before were EPs. Glenn Danzig mostly made the album by remixing pre-existing songs and adding extra guitar. Most of the songs had been recorded in the New Jersey towns of Fair Lawn and Boonton. The live track "Mommy" was from a concert in New York City at the Ritz. The iconic album cover features the "Bat-Rat-Spider" creature from the sci-fi camp classic film "THE ANGRY RED PLANET" as well as flying saucers created by Ray Harryhausen from "EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS". The original album pressing featured a pink background and pink logo on the cover but was corrected to a purple background with a pink logo; finally the cd version has been standardized to a purple cover with a green logo which I think works best; purple and green have always been associated with Halloween in my mind as much as orange and black for the odd reasons stated above. This version of the Misfits features Glenn Danzig on vocals and guitar, Jerry Only on bass and background vocals, Doyle on guitar and background vocals and Arthur Googy on drums.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

SPIKE JONES IN STEREO - Spike Jones


YEAR: 1959


LABEL: Warner Bros.


TRACK LISTING: I Only Have Eyes For You (Vocal by Dracula and Vampira), Poison To Poison (Interview with a Famous Poisonality), Teenage Brain Surgeon (Vocal by the Mad Doctor), (All of a Sudden) My Heart Sings (Vocal by Dracula and Vampira), Everything Happens To Me (Lament by Frankenstein), Monster Movie Ball (Vocal by the Fiend-Ager), Tammy (Vocal Duet by Dracula and Vampira), My Old Flame (Vocal by I.M. Arson), This Is Your Death (featuring Dr. Jekyll and Other Ghouls) and Two Heads Are Better Than One (Beatnik Duet), Spooktacular Finale (Vocal by the Entire Ghastly Cast)


IMPRESSIONS: I first bought this record in 1977 at the hoary old Sound Odyssey at the Cherry Hill Mall again. I had previously been a fan of Spike Jones & His City Slickers (what kid WASN'T?!?!?) and I previously owned not only some 45s (that had belonged to my mother) but two RCA Victor LPs of "Best Ofs"; not only that but both my grandparents and my friend Ed Jacoby had original 78s I'd heard PLUS the dear old Dr. Demento regularly played Spike as well. So when I saw this LP in the Sound Odyssey bins featuring not only Spike Jones but also a bevy of monsters on the cover, I snatched it up immediately and fell in love with it when I got it home. No wonder this album inspired a young Creepy Clyde to do what he does. The wacky stereophonic tricks also didn't go amiss to my young ears; as the back cover states: "Have you ever heard a belch move from one corner of the room to the other, then retrace its tracks?" Well, you would when you dropped the needle onto the outer groove of this spooktacular record! This record came out right at the height of the monster boom (I'm sure it was deliberate) ignited by the Shock Theater package of Universal monster movies released to TV played by horror hosts like Zacherley -- not to mention the launch of Forrest J. Ackerman's "FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND" magazine the year before. One only wishes there were extra tracks to be found languishing in the Warner Bros. vault so we could get even more of this delectable Halloween treat.


MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: I Only Have Eyes For You, Poison To Poison, Teenage Brain Surgeon, Everything Happens To Me, Monster Movie Ball, This Is Your Death/Two Heads Are Better Than One, Spooktacular Finale


GUEST ARTISTS: Paul Frees (vocals on "I Only Have Eyes for You", "Poison To Poison", "(All of a Sudden) My Heart Sings", "Tammy", "My Old Flame", "Everything Happens to Me", "This Is Your Death" and "Spooktacular Finale"), Loulie Jean Norman (vocals on "I Only Have Eyes For You", "(All of a Sudden) My Heart Sings", "Tammy", and "Spooktacular Finale"), Thurl Ravenscroft (vocal on "Teenage Brain Surgeon"), George Rock (vocal on "Tammy" and "This Is Your Death/Two Heads Are Better Than One"), Ken Stevens (vocal on "Monster Movie Ball"), Alvino Rey (producer)


FACT SHEET: SPIKE JONES IN STEREO is Spike Jones' 2nd album. It had the alternate title of SPIKE JONES IN HI-FI for the mono version. The album was produced by lounge orchestra leader Alvino Rey. The spooktacular cover painting is by Jim Jonson. Paul Frees, known as "the Man with a Thousand Voices", impersonates Dracula as well as countless other voices. Loulie Jean Norman was a sought-after studio vocalist and dubbed Diahann Carroll's singing voice in the film version of "PORGY AND BESS" the same year as she voices Vampira for this album. Thurl Ravenscroft of course was not only the voice of Tony the Tiger but also appeared on countless Disney projects, dueted with Rosemary Clooney on "Where Will the Dimple Be" and Georgia Gibbs on "Dance With Me, Henry" as well as singing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" on the beloved TV special "HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS" to name a few. "My Old Flame" is a stereo re-recording of Spike Jones' monster 1940s hit single which features Paul Frees here impersonating Peter Lorre anew. George Rock sang on Spike's only number one hit single "All I Want For Christmas Is (My Two Front Teeth)". "Poison To Poison" is a lampoon of Edward R. Murrow's popular interview programme "Person To Person" and features Paul Frees impersonating Alfred Hitchcock while "Everything Happens To Me" finds Frees doing his Boris Karloff impression. Sadly, Spike Jones intended to do a follow-up to this album tentatively called "GHOUL DAYS". Some of the song concepts were entitled "My Darling Frankenstein", "Holiday For Strychnine" and "Moonlight and Rodents" but the project had never gotten past the planning stage when Jones died on emphysema in 1965.

Monday, October 3, 2011

SPOOKY TOWN - Creepy Clyde

YEAR: 2002

LABEL: Creepy Clyde.com

TRACK LISTING: Spooky Town, Man-Eating Plant, The Monster From the Sea, Dracula's Castle, Spooky Old Graveyard, Haunted House, The Carp That Ate Detroit, I Just Want To Drink Your Blood, In the Old Dark House, Zombies, Twisted Man, A Monster Lives Under My Bed, The Old Man From Kalamazoo

BONUS TRACKS: Space Ships Have Invaded Earth (hidden track)

IMPRESSIONS: I really haven't the faintest idea where I first stumbled across this cd. I either chanced across it surfing the worldwide weird or else it came up on a search for Halloweenie music on ebay (I tend to think it was the latter). Either way, I was thoroughly charmed when I heard it. Besides Creepy Clyde Brown's adeptness in the acting and horror-hosting as well as the graphic arts (he drew the wonderful cover art for this album), Clyde is also quite an accomplished songwriter; these songs are hooky and really well-written for a horror novelty album and several songs like "The Monster From the Sea" and "Haunted House" (NOT the Jumpin' Gene Simmons song) have become permanent additions to my yearly Halloween listening. And who could be surprised after hearing Creepy Clyde's true love of horror and Halloween; ever since his father took him to a pharmacy where he saw a horror mag with an ad for the SPIKE JONES IN STEREO album (to be posted about right here soon). In a 2007 interview with Stephanie Schneider for realdetroit.com, Clyde described the true meaning of Halloween: "What a great holiday! It's about the freeness, the freedom to go where you want, and be anyone! It's a weird night, and it doesn't exist all over the world. Turn your lights on Halloween. Keep them on. Just give it a shot, hand out some candy, go to a party. Don't let it pass you by."

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Man-Eating Plant, The Monster From the Sea, Dracula's Castle, Spooky Old Graveyard, Haunted House, The Carp That Ate Detroit, In the Old Dark House, Zombies

FACT SHEET: SPOOKY TOWN is Creepy Clyde's first album. Creepy Clyde is a horror host character created by character actor Clyde Brown in 2000 in Detroit, Michigan. Brown started out as a storyboard artist for an advertising company but when he was laid off began writing and performing horror-themed novelty songs as well as acting and horror-hosting old scary movies.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

HALLOWEEN HOWLS - Andrew Gold

YEAR: 1996

LABEL: Music For Little People

TRACK LISTING: It Must Be Halloween, The Monster Mash, Spooky Scary Skeletons, Trick Or Treat, The Addams Family, Ghostbusters, Gimme A Smile (The Pumpkin Song), Don't Scream (It's Only Halloween), The Creature From the Tub, Halloween Party, Witches Witches Witches, In Our Haunted House

IMPRESSIONS: This album is adorable; one of the sweetest yet not saccharine children's albums for Halloween. Being Andrew Gold, the songwriting is very catchy and holds up to the adult ear providing a great listen that actually IS enjoyable for the whole family. Ever since I first stumbled across this cd in the late, lamented Tower Records next to the Cherry Hill Mall, I've found several songs becoming perennial listens for the Halloween season; especially the fun "Halloween Party" and "Witches, Witches, Witches" featuring a chorus sung by children which is just too cute for words. Dr. Demento has called this one of the two greatest Halloween albums of all-time and I'm inclined to agree with him.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: It Must Be Halloween, The Monster Mash, Spooky Scary Skeletons, Don't Scream (It's Only Halloween), Halloween Party, Witches Witches Witches, In Our Haunted House

GUEST ARTISTS: Linda Ronstadt (vocals on "The Monster Mash"), Karla Bonoff (vocals on "The Monster Mash"), Stephen Bishop (lead vocal on "The Monster Mash"), David Cassidy (lead vocal on "Halloween Party"), Nicolette Larson (vocals on "The Creature From the Tub")
FACT SHEET: HALLOWEEN HOWLS is Andrew Gold's 8th album. He is best known for his hit single "Lonely Boy" as well as composing the theme song to "THE GOLDEN GIRLS" entitled "Thank You For Being A Friend". Gold comes from a heavyweight musical family; his father the Academy Award-winning composer of the score for the film "EXODUS" and his mother is Marni Nixon who dubbed the singing voices of Natalie Wood in "WEST SIDE STORY", Audrey Hepburn in "MY FAIR LADY" and many more. Andrew Gold died in 2011.