Avoid the Clichés: Your New Halloween Soundtrack



I have no doubt that by tomorrow, if you hadn't already felt so in the wake of Michael Jackson's death, you may never want to hear "Thriller" again. I've got a feeling it'll be playing at least hourly, between predictable selections from the Misfits, The Ramones' "Pet Cemetery" and Screamin' Jay's "I Put a Spell on You." None of those are bad tunes, but at the same time, I thought I'd recommend a few overlooked season-appropriate records in hopes that I might hear them around tonight.

Mr. Bungle - S/T: It might be because I first discovered this in October way back in 1991 that this record screams "Halloween" to me, but then, what about creepy circus synths, sexually demented lyrics, and a schizophrenic meld of metal, jazz and funk doesn't? No doubt their following two records are much better, but this one is by far the Halloweeniest.

Gravediggaz - 6 Feet Deep: Sure, it's a little cheesy and dated, but this fusion of horror and hip-hop (courtesy of RZA and Prince Paul) has stood the test of time much better than Leprechaun in the Hood.

Christian Death - Only Theater of Pain: This is the prototype for American goth rock bands--the original Antichrist Superstars back when Marilyn Manson was supposedly still that kid on the Wonder Years. If you're looking to add a little darkness and despair and what not to the evening, I suggest starting with "Romeo's Distress." When everyone is playing Joy Division tonight, tell them to get a clue and put this on.

Samhain - Initium: Bet you're thinking November-Coming-Fire is better, right? It is. But it doesn't have "Archangel" or "Horror Biz," which are my two favorite Samhain songs. That aside, how about everyone starts Samhain cover bands next year, since Misfits covers have been played the fuck out for a good 10+ years now?

The Damned - Phantasmagoria: So once upon a time in the mid-'80s, The Damned signed to a major label, went goth and created what I would later find to be the perfect alternative soundtrack to Castlevania on NES. Surely you've heard "Grimley Fiendish" somewhere before, right? The rest of the album is just as good.

The Mummies - Play Their Own Records: Long before Nashville's lily-white, bandaged-blue-eyed-soul revue Here Come the Mummies was passing wedding band music off as entertainment, there was a purist lo-fi garage ensemble who also dressed like Mummies and didn't suck. The scariest part of this record to most Nashvillians is the fact it was recorded by literally playing vinyl records and placing a single dynamic microphone in front of one of the speakers.

Alice Cooper - Welcome to My Nightmare: Not that I can remember this far back, but this was probably a Halloween staple up until about 1988 before it found itself obsolete. I think it's time to bring it back given this is probably the last Cooper solo album (his first) that doesn't suck (though, I still have a soft spot for Trash).

Dickies - Killer Klowns from Outer Space: Circuses and clowns are very underused Halloween themes. That shit is creepy. This EP isn't worth more than the title track alone, and nowhere near as awesome as the movie itself, but still felt worth including here.

Roky Erickson - The Evil One: This one isn't so much festive musically as it is lyrically. What you get is a rowdy, fiery blues-rock record with heavy '80s production. But you also get some of the best lyrics about zombies, two-headed dogs, creatures with atom brains, Lucifer, vampires, ghosts and demons from a man who wholeheartedly believes in the subject matter.

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