Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” The Halloween Edition, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!
Picket was a nightclub entertainer who performed with a group called The Cordials. He wrote “Monster Mash” with his friend Lenny Capizzi. They were both big horror movie fans, and Pickett would do an impression of the actor Boris Karloff (known for playing the monster in many Frankenstein movies) during the speaking part of “Little Darlin'” that went over well in his act. As Capizzi played the piano, he and Pickett put together this song with his Karloff impression in mind. They came up with the plot about Frankenstein’s monster starting a dance craze.
The lyrics are based on the story of Frankenstein, which started as a 1818 novel by Mary Shelley and evolved into various film adaptations. In the story, Dr. Frankenstein creates a creature who comes to life, but what he created is a monster. The book is sober tale of regret and unexpected consequences, but the story is often played for comedy. In this song, the monster throws a big dance party, which is enthusiastically attended by many other creatures of lore (Dracula, Wolfman).
Pickett is imitating Boris Karloff, but is narrating the story as Dr. Frankenstein, not the monster that Karloff famously portrayed.
Pickett and Lenny Capizzi wrote this song in about two hours. They recorded a demo to tape and brought it to Gary Paxton, lead singer of The Hollywood Argyles (“Alley Oop”). They recorded the song with Paxton and studio musicians Leon Russell, Johnny McCrae and Rickie Page, who were credited as “The Cryptkickers.” Paxton, who is credited as the song’s producer, also added the sound effects.
Paxton put the song out on his Garpax label and distributed it to radio stations around southern California. Response was overwhelming, as the stations saw their phone banks lighting up with requests for the song. A deal was struck with London Records, who distributed the song worldwide.
This is a dance song based on the “Mashed Potato” dance craze, which is where The “Mash” in the title comes in.
The original title was “Monster Twist” in an attempt to jump on the Twist craze, but that fad was fading so they tried calling it “Monster Mashed Potato,” then settled on “Monster Mash.”
This being 1962, many of the sound effects had to be created in the studio. The sound effects on the song were done as follows:
The coffin being opened was made by pulling a rusty nail out of a lump of wood with the claw of a hammer.
The bubbling sounds came from blowing through a straw in a glass of water.
The sound of the chains was made by dropping chains onto plywood planks on the record studio floor.
Trick or treat…or rock n’ roll? Why choose? If you need some of the best Halloween rock songs, we’re your ghouls.
The Sonics “The Witch”
This may be blasphemy, but if not for this one song, The Sonics would probably be considered a fairly tame, forgettable early-’60s garage band. So thank god for this primitive, staccato wonderment which predated all those witch songs that would come along a decade later with it’s cautionary tale of the new girl in town, the one with the long black hair and long black car who may or may not be a witch.
The Misfits “Night of the Living Dead”
This list could literally be just a list of Misfits’ songs, so this was a hard choice. In the early days, these boys from New Jersey wrote almost exclusively about the horror business but this catchy gem sticks out as one of the best of their catalog.
Joy Division “Dead Souls”
The poster boys for Post-Punk existentialism, Joy Division practically invented the goth subculture thanks to their gloomy lyrics and disconnected, often otherworldly melodies. That you could dance to their music too is something of a minor miracle. The 1980 hanging suicide of Ian Curtis is still a subject so raw that the group’s enduring legions of fans continue to mourn him, yet the music he left behind — richly textured and filled with the genuine pain that hopefully few of us will have to endure in our lives — has actually brought considerable light to the world.
Tim Curry “Sweet Transvestite”
Regardless of your thoughts on The Rocky Horror Picture Show and its attendant subculture, we are certain of one thing: if you don’t like “Sweet Transvestite” you don’t like rock n’ roll.
That guitar kicks in at 52 seconds into this clip, and what follows is one of the most perfectly arranged, muscular tunes of its kind, capped off by Tim Curry’s raised eyebrow “zero fucks given” vocal.
Luna “Season of the Witch”
For their remake of 1960s Donovan freakout favorite “Season of the Witch,” Luna decided to heighten the already pretty damn greatness factor of the original. How? By having the vocalization’s of lead singer Dean Wareham (the cooler among you may remember his previous band, Galaxie 500) walk a tightrope between cool detachment and soaring enthusiasm. And with that, your Halloween bash just turned into a rad makeout party.
Franz Ferdinand “Evil Eye”
Franz Ferdinand roared back to life last year with new album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, with all their stomp, sass, and grooves still punching with full-force. “Evil Eye,” a campy, organ laced, dance-punk standout from the record is the band’s “Take Me Out,” by the way of Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me,” with singer Alex Kapranos delivering paranoid freak-outs, desperately trying to be the coolest cat on your Halloween playlist, and mostly succeeding.
Bauhaus “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”
Bauhaus were just so damnably if unintentionally silly in their deadly serious Goth kings pose, and their big Goth disco hit so over the top in its hamfisted obviousness, how could it not make everyone’s Halloween song top 10 (or worm it’s way onto The Hunger soundtrack for that matter)? It was a song ready-made and pre-packaged for the teen vampire renaissance that would come along 25 years after it was released.
Siouxsie and the Banshees “Halloween”
The Magnetic Fields’ “No One Will Ever Love You” is the band’s attempt to sum up the listening experience of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumoursalbum in one three minute and thirteen second pop song. If someone tried a similiar experiment to condense the entire goth scene into a song, the resulting melody would almost certainly sound like Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Halloween.”
Ministry “Everyday is Halloween”
Ministry is one of the most respected industrial acts ever. But before they achieved acclaim from the 120 Minutesset, the group released some music that could conceivably be mistaken for acts like Celebrate the Nun (at best) or Anything Box (at worst). It is silly and stupid and is absolutely wonderful.
Case in point, “Everyday Is Halloween.” Opening with the words “well I live with lizards” and just getting more absurd from there, this dance floor favorite lets listeners get in touch with their inner Jack Skellington by envisioning a world where each moment is full of witches and darkness and other Hot Topic-approved nonsense that melts away once you realize that life is actually about paying rent, maintaining your crappy relationship and making a slow trek towards oblivion.
Fact: Every day is not Halloween.
The Cramps “What’s Behind the Mask?”
If you’re born into this world looking like zombie Elvis, what choice do you have but to perform psychobilly inspired by B horror films? Still, of all those great, great Cramps songs to choose from, “What’s Behind the Mask?,” a question a lot of people will be asking at drunken Halloween parties the world over, seemed the most appropriate.
And Lux Interior’s closing line (“Sorry I ever asked”) is probably the same response all those people will be feeling when they find out.
The Woggles “Dracula’s Daughter”
A fairly self-explanatory title masks a surefire party starter and some thoroughly primal rock n’ roll. Sure, it shares a name with a kinda lifeless 1936 Universal flick, but if this tune doesn’t get the blood flowing, someone needs to check your pulse.
Also, if The Woggles ever come to your town, do not miss them.
The Ramones “Pet Sematary”
Aside from the obvious tie in to the Stephen King novel and film of the same name, “Pet Sematary” is just one of the countless examples of why The Ramones should have been the biggest band in the world. A perfectly crafted pop song with more layered guitar and production than some of their more familiar tunes, and those lyrics…nothing is more perfect for Halloween night.
The moon is full, the air is still, All of a sudden I feel a chill, Victor is grinning, flesh rotting away,Skeletons dance, I curse this day, And the night when the wolves cry out,Listen close and you can hear me shout.
The Nomads “Where the Wolf Bane Blooms”
This one has all the hallmarks of the genre, from the loud-ass drums to the swirling organ in the background. The guitar solo that starts howling at 1:02 is an appropriately lupine touch.
But it’s the lyrics here that really stand out, all about “the pale light of the moon” and “ancient voices” capped off with a reworking of The Wolf Man’s famous poem about lycanthropy to suit the tune, “you may be pure of heart, and pure of soul, but you’ll become a wolf when the moon is full.”
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins “Little Demon”
Screamin’ Jay has a way of making it onto Halloween-themed compilation albums, usually with tired old standards like “I Put a Spell on You” or “Feast of the Mau-Mau,” but this wild-eyed early rock’n’roll screamer puts them both to shame. What nakes this story of a demon trapped on earth trying to find his way home so perfect is that in the song’s chorus (if you could call it that) Screamin’ Jay, swear to god, is literally channeling a demon’s voice.
It’s hilarious and scary as hell all at the same time.
David Bowie “We Are the Dead”
What could be more horrifying than anti-sex goons coming up the stairs while you’re in your best fuck me pumps? This is the probably the only song ever written about federal performus interruptus. The menacing guitar lines go down before they ascend.
Bowie’s imagery is frightening, sexy and touching. His delivery is controlled mania, fearful and rebellious and so vulnerable.
Lou Reed “Halloween Parade”
Taken from his 1989 album New York, “Halloween Parade” is a thoughtful reflection on how the world loses a bit of its magic each time a loved one dies. While viewing NYC’s annual Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village, Reed points out that “you’ll never see those faces again” of such colorful Chelsea staples as Andy Warhol’s Factory staple Rotten Rita. “The past keeps knock, knock, knocking on my door, and I don’t want to hear it anymore” he sings, illustrating how a once joyous celebration has lost some of its shine and transformed itself into a funeral procession of memories of colorful figures from his life who aren’t there anymore. Although originally written about the AIDS crisis, the song has taken on an added layer of sadness following Reed’s own death (just try not to get emotional when he says “See you next year at the Halloween parade” at the end of the song). This is a downer to be sure, but perfect to put at the end of your Halloween playlist as a subtle reminder that the party ends for all of us sooner or later.
The line, “Who is this irresistible creature who has an insatiable love for the dead?” in the beginning of the song is from the trailer of the film Lady Frankenstein. The music in the beginning of the song is taken from the trailer of the Wes Cravenfilm, The Last House on the Left. The spoken words “What are you thinking about?/The same thing you are” at the beginning of the verses are taken from the 1971 film Daughters of Darkness (a dialogue between the characters played by Delphine Seyrig and Andrea Rau). In this song, Zombie sings, “Goldfoot’s machine creates another fiend so beautiful they make you kill”.
The Professor in in! Professor Metal’s second episode is now available for viewing in the Metal Lair YouTube Channel. Its the Halloween Special where he reviews Swedish progressive metal/rock band Opeth’s new album In Cauda Venenum.
Theres comedy galore in this episode with Halloween antics. Dont miss it.
Dont forget to subscribe and share Metal Lairs YouTube Channel while you’re there.
Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn, and cauldron bubble. Get out your pointy hats and broomsticks, we’re off on a witch hunt. Well, okay, we’re only hunting for some top notch witch songs. Hold the eye of newt! Something wicked this way comes.Open, locks, whoever knocks…we’re off to see the witches, the wonderful witches…wait that’s not right. Let’s rock with the best Magic and Witch Songs!
Our list of the Top 10 Witch Songs begins with this exceptionally moodyRushnumber, one of the great songs that make up the classicMoving Picturesalbum. An eerie intro leads into a jagged guitar riff courtesy ofAlex Lifeson, and we’re off. The song is more about the evils of a closed mind as opposed to any sorcery, which is ultimately far more evil. An interesting footnote to the song, it was recorded the same night thatJohn Lennonwaskilled.
The opening track ofIron Maiden‘s seventh studio album draws its title and lyrical inspiration from a book written by infamous occultist Aleister Crowley back in 1917. The story finds good and evil magicians battling over the fate of an unborn child.Led Zeppelin‘sJimmy Pagewas also highly interested in Crowley’s work, and we’ll hear about the magician again later in this list.
Before he came to worldwide fame as the singer and guitarist forZZ Top,Billy Gibbonsfronted the more psychdelic-leaningMoving Sidewalks. This song finds him under the spell of a particularly haunting woman… and from the sounds of things, quite possibly some very trippy pharmaceuticals as well.
John Fogertysings of“Creatures, goblins, spooks all around”on this rocker from his 2004 album,Deja Vu All Over Again. The song is trademark Fogerty, powered by another in a seemingly endless stream of classic riffs. The groove is as wicked as the witch herself, and we certainly don’t wish to run into the“Shriveled old lady with the tombstone mouth scarring up trouble at the haunted house.”
Written byPeter Green and originally recorded byFleetwood Macin 1968, “Black Magic Woman” would be taken under the mighty wings ofSantana, and made a worldwide smash in 1970 as part of their amazingAbraxasalbum. On the strength ofCarlos Santana‘s blistering guitar, the minor-key blues reached the Top Five, while the LP shot to No. 1.
“She is like a cat in the dark and then she is the darkness”Though not a witch by name, the legend of “Rhiannon,” according to MissStevie Nicks, clearly states, “This is a song about an old Welsh witch.” We aren’t about to argue with Stevie on this one. We will, however, bask in its warm glow as one of Fleetwood Mac’s timeless classics. We’re given you a killer live rendition here, complete with witchy intro.
Ooooh, oooh…witchaay woman. We probably all know a creature with“raven hair and ruby lips”and chances are,“she’s a restless spirit on an endless flight.”ThisEaglesclassic has never left the radio airwaves since it was first unleashed back in 1972 and was a must have for our Top 10 Witch Songs list. A Top 10 single from the band’s debut album, “Witchy Woman” was their second straight smash right out of the gate.
As we said earlier, Crowley surfaces again, only this time out, none other thanOzzy Osbourne, the Prince of Darkness himself, is asking the famous mystic simple but pointed questions, such as “What went on in your head? Did you talk to the dead?” Ultimately, Ozzy declares the magician’s life to be tragic:“You fooled all the people with magic / You waited on Satan’s call.”
The first half dozen or so albums fromJethro Tullare all pretty incredible, and “Benefit” is no exception. “The Witch’s Promise” is one of many pearls to be found on that LP. Driving acoustic guitar, swirling mellotron and trademark flute and vocal formIan Andersonmeld together in this haunting tale of temptation.“The witch’s promise was coming / You’re looking elsewhere for your own selfish gain.”Released as a single in the U.K. in the spring of 1970, it hit No. 4 on the charts.
Our pick for the No. 1 spot on our list of Top 10 Witch songs is by none other thanDonovan. The word “classic” gets tossed around an awful lot, but in this case, it’s truly apropos. From his legendary 1966 albumSunshine Superman, “Season of the Witch” evokes the haunting mystery of the fall season. It’s simple yet powerful riff transports and hypnotizes the listener. It’s been covered by everyone fromAl KooperandStephen StillstoVanilla Fudgeand Lou Rawls, but the original is still the real deal.
Witchy Words:“You’re floating there, you’re handing me a snake inside a jar. It’s just too cool, I do believe, you’re what you say you are…”
19 Witches? Snakes in a jar? You should never, ever do acid…unless you want to understand the lyrics of anyMonster Magnetsong. I’m not even sure if this is about witches but tie me to a stake and play it over and over again.
Witchy Words: “Satan, worm-carved rites, horrifies their spires…”
Phil Anselmois as powerful a lyricist as we have in metal. Plus any dude with a pentagram painted on the bottom of his swimming pool can write a song about witches, the occult or black magic any time he wants.
Witchy Words:“I can see a fire burning, hooded shapes are all around. I can see a throne of sliver, thirteen we are in all …”
I was going to putKing Diamond’s ‘Eye of the Witch’ on this list but realized I had already used it inTop 10 Songs About Body Parts. Luckily, he wrote an even cooler song about witches while inMercyful Fate. “Hey Don what did you do last night?” “Oh not much. Me and King Diamond went dancing with some witches but they left early ‘cause they had an early sacrifice in the morning.”
The song is about a captivating woman, but “Strange Magic” is also a good description for this song’s sonics. Compressed to a tight 3:27 for the single release (it runs 4:29 on the album), the song packs in an intriguing array of harmonies and hooks while integrating the famous ELO string section. The lyric is suitably trippy, and very repetitious, with the title appearing five times per chorus.