Saturday, October 27, 2012

Halloween Album Review: Halloween's Gravest Hits

Spooky?  Ooky?  Lappadookie?
This little gem I picked up from my local library after hearing several tracks while listening to Pandora: Halloween's Gravest Hits.
From it's EC Comics inspired cover to its interior art and yes, even its music, I call this one a winner for your Halloween musical needs.  The tracks on this album are all previously released material and all quite old.  I consider this a major plus, by the way.  The cover of the disc clearly states "Resurrected From the Capitol Crypt" which again has the EC flavor and lets you know what you are getting.
Visual Aid!

1. Thunderstorm (sound effect), 1961 EMI records
2. Monster Mash-Don Hinson and the Rigamorticians, 1963 Capitol Records
3. The Twilight Zone-The Ventures, 1962 Dolton Records
4. Spooky Movies-Gary Paxton, 1963 Capitol Records
5. Squeeky Door Open & Close (sound effect), 1961 Capitol Records
6. Dracula's Deuce-The Ghouls, 1964 Capitol Records
7. The Munsters Theme-Jack Marshall, 1964 Capitol Records
8. Castin' My Spell-Johnny Otis, 1959 Capitol Records
9. Ghostly Sounds PT. 1 (sound effect), 1961 Capitol Records
10. Hearse With A Curse-Mr. Gasser & the Weirdos, 1964 Capitol Records
11. Werewolf-The Frantics, 1960 Dolton Records
12. Riboflavin-Flavored, Non-Carbonated, Polyunsaturated Blood-Don Hinson and the Rigamorticians, 1964 Capitol Records
13. Creaking Door (sound effect), 1961 EMI Records
14. The Lurch-Ted Cassidy, 1965 Capitol Records
15. Fear (Main Title from "One Step Beyond")-The Ventures, 1962 Dolton Records
16. The Graveyard Shift-The Ghouls, 1964 Capitol Records
17. Howling Winds (sound effect), 1961 EMI Records
18. The Stroke of Midnight
19. Opening Castle Door
20. Wrought Iron Gate Squeak & Close
21. Stairs Creeking
22. Squeak One
23. Squeak Two
24. Ghostly Sounds PT. 2
25. Ghostly Sounds PT. 3
26. Ghostly Sounds PT. 4
27. Ghostly Sounds PT. 5
28. Ghostly Sounds PT. 6
29. Ghostly Sounds PT. 7
30. Ghostly Sounds PT. 8
All Bonus Tracks 1961 EMI Records

All in all it is a good disc.  I like the old surf rock spook tracks quite a bit.  The weak point for me is "The Lurch", which is just not a good song musically speaking.  The tracks represent the work of rotating studio bands like the Ghouls, which was a Beach Boys side project as I understand it.  I don't like the Beach Boys at all, but I dig these tracks.
I loathe sound effects tracks.  I absolutely despise sound effects discs.  A sound effect is a great thing when used properly but too often on these Halloween discs the sound effects are comprised of one or two good spooky sounds and a bunch of pointless noise tangentially related to Halloween.  Storms, rain, bubbling cauldrons and then something like "gasps and shrieks" that sounds more like an asthmatic running a footrace in high humidity.  If used properly a sound effects disc can make your front yard haunt seem all the better and moody, but too often it is just put the bloody disc on repeat and listen to sounds that pull you out of the haunt mood.  When interspersed through a disc it can provide a flow and feel that makes the whole album feel organic, but again that is too often a failed attempt.  I am ambivalent to the sound effects cut as tracks between the songs and as for the bonus tracks...well I don't feel like it was much of a bonus.
There is an expanded version of this disc available on Amazon with a purple cover vice red that I have not heard but would like to do.

Give it a shot and keep your pumpkins lit.

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