Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, Punk Rock Edition, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!


Formed in 1976 in the vanguard of British punk, The Clash would soon become the most iconic rock band of their era, a symbol of intelligent protest and stylish rebellion in the turbulent years of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Just as importantly, they were to become unflinching musical pioneers, integrating first militant reggae, then dub, funk, jazz and hip hop into their music, which has helped to make them one of the most respected and sampled bands by modern DJs and dance musicians.

London Calling the album came out in England on December 14th, 1979, but didn’t cross the Atlantic to America until January 1980. That’s just a matter of weeks, but it’s the reason that NME has called it one of the single best albums of the Seventies and Rolling Stone labeled it the best album of the Eighties.

London Calling documents one of the mightiest bands in rock history operating at the absolute peak of its abilities. The double LP is a unique fusion of punk, rockabilly, reggae, R&B, and pop that’s unlike anything heard before or since. It also dated from a time when the group’s primary songwriters, Mick Jones and Joe Strummer, were working together seamlessly and bringing out the best in one another.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, Punk Rock Edition, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

The Misfits are an American punk rockband often recognized as the progenitors of the horror punk subgenre, blending punk and other musical influences with horror film themes and imagery. The group was founded in 1977 in Lodi, New Jersey, by vocalist, songwriter and keyboardist Glenn Danzig, and drummer Manny Martínez. Jerry Only joined on bass guitar shortly after. Over the next six years, membership would change frequently with Danzig and Only the only consistent members. During this time period, they released several EPs and singles, and with Only’s brother Doyle as guitarist, the albums Walk Among Us(1982) and Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood(1983), both considered touchstones of the early-1980s hardcore punk movement. The band has gone through many lineup changes over the years, with bassist Jerry Only being the only constant member in the group.

The Misfits got their name from the final film Marilyn Monroe made before her death in 1962. They later wrote a tribute to her, ‘Who Killed Marilyn?’ which has some choice theories about the starlet’s untimely death.

Every guy in the “classic” Misfits lineup, which for us includes Glenn Danzig (lead vox, random violence), Jerry Only (bass, “1-2-3-4” count-offs), Doyle (lead guitar) and Robo (drums), was going by an assumed name. Proof is in the details: Glenn Danzig’s real name is Glenn Allen Anzalone, the name his MOTHER gave him. Jerry Only and Doyle are actually blood brothers and share the same last name: Caiafa. Doyle is also a stage name; his real first name is the much-less-interesting Paul. We’re glad Robo went with a stage name. The Colombian-American drummer’s real name is a mouthful: Julio Roberto Valverde Valencia.

According to Misfits Central, after getting into a fight in London outside of a Jam show, lead singer Glenn Danzig and early guitarist Bobby Steele were thrown in jail. During his stay there, Danzig wrote ‘London Dungeon,’ one of the spookiest production jobs on a song ever, in our humble opinion.

Although it’s been rumored to be about George Lucas’ pre-’Star Wars’ sci-fi flick, ‘THX 1138’ — which stars Robert Duvall (pictured) and Donald Pleasance of ‘Halloween’ fame — Glenn Danzig was quoted on website in 2000 as saying, “[The other Misfits] didn’t write it, and they don’t know what the f— it’s about. It’s about violence.” We’ll take his word for it.

The song ‘Mephisto Waltz’ on Collection II is actually not a Misfits

Much has been said and written about the addition of this song on the ‘90s Caroline Records follow-up to the popular first collection of Misfits songs that came out in the ‘80s. This song was actually never recorded by the band and was only a rehearsal number. Hence, this version is believed to include Danzig on vocals, newly anointed bassist Eerie Von (who would play in post-Misfits bands Samhain and Danzig) doing the “woahs!” and an uncredited drummer.

Longtime Misfits worshippers Metallica covered the band’s ‘Die, Die My Darling’ on their 1998 covers album ‘Garage, Inc.’ (Recently, Danzig fronted Metallica for a few choice Misfits cuts at the 2013 Revolver Golden Gods Awards.) Guns N’ Roses also covered the Misfits’ ‘Attitude’ on 1993’s horrifically sub-par covers album ‘The Spaghetti Incident?’ We’d suggest listening to this on low in the background, whilst making spaghetti. It’s not worth cranking up in the least.

Misfits shows were nothing short of uncontrollable melees

Picture the last live show you went to. All in all, it was a pretty tame affair. We’d imagine that even some of the toughest bands these days — Metallica, Slipknot, Slayer — probably keep their crazy fans more than several feet away, even in the front row. So when you see some of the grainy footage of the Misfits ’80s shows, it shows you how nuts they used to be: guys jumping on stage, slam-dancing in the audience, Danzig going absolutely nuts. Note: If you listen to the ‘Evilive’ version of ‘Horror Business,’ you can hear Danzig threatening a fan … in the middle of the song. “One more f—ing time you a—hole, and you die!” he warns. One of our favorite moments in recorded music history.

Misfits records are major collectors items — which command huge price tags at auction

Something that the Misfits understood from the get-go was how to treat their fans — and how to grow their fan base. One of the things they did was start a fan club, aptly called the “Fiend Club,” which sent out stickers, buttons and occasionally music. These records — along with the band’s “official” releases — are incredibly valuable. Just go on eBay and do a search. You’ll be astounded. (We’re talking hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for these things.)

The ‘Legacy of Brutality’ album is a sore point for the band

The reason for the bad blood is basically that Glenn Danzig went back and re-dubbed a lot of Jerry Only’s bass parts, as well as quite a bit of the guitars. But if you’ve listened to the album a billion times like we have, you really can’t hear any noticeable differences. It captures the greatness that is the Misfits and should be honored as such.

The band has never fully reunited since it broke up in 1983

It’s not as though the band hasn’t tried. Glenn Danzig has been performing anniversary shows for the past few years with Doyle. Jerry Only and Doyle put together a ‘new’ Misfits lineup in the mid-’90s, which eventually dissolved. But the ‘classic’ lineup has yet to let bygones be bygones (they were in court for many years fighting about a host of issues), strap on the leather, paint on the eyeshadow and kill it once again.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, Punk Rock Edition, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Darby Crash, singer of the Germs, the most outrageous band on the West Coast, died tragically in 1980 when he committed suicide. He ought to have become a celebrated rock icon but his death was overshadowed by John Lennon’s murder the next day. Now a film about his explosive life has been made and the cult group has re-formed. Tim Adams tells a story of anarchy, chaos – and some music too.

In 1975, Paul Beahm, a 17-year-old, high-school dropout from West Los Angeles, whose brother had been murdered over a drug deal and whose stepfather had died unexpectedly three years earlier, devised a plan to make himself immortal. The plan would have the timeframe of his hero David Bowie’s apocalyptic anthem ‘Five Years’. It went like this: Beahm would form a band with his mates, spend a couple of years making it a cultish, outrageous live act, release one great album and then commit suicide to secure his legend.

Beahm proved himself as good as his word. His band, the Germs, with Beahm performing under the name Darby Crash, were, for a while, the most infamous punk band on the West Coast. By 1978, their appearances were occasions of such mayhem that they were routinely broken up by riot police. The Germs’ only album, (GI) (Germs Incognito), released in 1979, was widely acclaimed as a brutal masterpiece (an ‘aural holocaust,’ the LA Times suggested). And, as planned, on 7 December 1980, Darby formed a suicide pact with his then girlfriend, Casey Cola. They lay down together in her mother’s back room and injected themselves with the $400-worth of heroin they had bought with the last of their rent money. Crash died, Cola survived.

The one thing that did not go according to plan, however, was the timing of Darby Crash’s self-mythologising exit. Icons are not supposed to be upstaged, but on the day after Crash killed himself, John Lennon was murdered in Central Park and the world found a more genuine legend to mourn.

Crash’s designs on immortality were subsequently put on hold, but they have been revived in a film that retells the story of the ultimate live fast, die young life. Twenty-eight years on, Darby Crash may yet take what he always saw as his rightful place as a rock’n’roll martyr somewhere in the junkie’s pantheon between Jim Morrison and Sid Vicious.

Not long before he died, Darby Crash’s stage show had been preserved on film in The Decline of Western Civilization, Penelope Spheeris’s documentary about LA punk, a more theatrical, decadent relation to its slightly more venerable New York and London cousins. Grossman and his friends had watched that footage over and over. Crash, he suggests, was not only the most extreme but also the most romantic figure of that time and place. He had literally been the poster boy for Spheeris’s movie, pictured on the film’s promotional fliers passed-out drunk on stage, prefiguring his death mask by a couple of months. ‘Darby,’ Grossman says, ‘was at or very near the heart of a very important scene. He drew people to him. It’s an overused term but in the Los Angeles I grew up in he was a living legend.’

The movie is, necessarily, pitched somewhere between myth and reality. The Germs had been a polarising force and Grossman discovered that everyone he spoke to ‘had a different perspective and everything was always heightened when they remembered Darby. People cared a great deal that I got things right’.

No one cared more than the surviving members of the Germs, who had been rechristened by Crash: bass player Lorna Doom, guitarist Pat Smear (who went on to play with Nirvana and currently plays with the Foo Fighters) and the crazed drummer Don Bolles. All of them make large claims for Darby Crash, but none more so than Bolles. ‘With a little more luck and concentrated effort,’ he suggests, ‘Darby could have fulfilled his plan to be the new Jesus/Bowie/Manson/Hitler/L Ron Hubbard… he was a natural messiah type, whose heroic consumption of LSD helped make him the most psychedelic prankster I have ever known.’

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, Punk Rock Edition, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Punk rock started in 1976 on New York’s Bowery, when four cretins from Queens came up with a mutant strain of blitzkrieg bubblegum. The revolution they inspired split the history of rock & roll in half. But even if punk rock began as a kind of negation — a call to stark, brutal simplicity — its musical variety and transforming emotional power was immediate and remains staggering.

The Ramones were an American punk rock band that formed in the New York City neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens in 1974. They are often cited as the first true punk rock group. Despite achieving only limited commercial success initially, the band was highly influential in the United States, South America, and the United Kingdom.

Onstage, they were the personification of unity – even family. The four men dressed the same –in leather motorcycle jackets, weathered jeans, sneakers – had the same dark hair color, shared the same last name. They seemed to think the same thoughts and breathe the same energy. They often didn’t stop between songs, not even as bassist Dee Dee Ramone barked out the mad “1-2-3- 4” time signature that dictated the tempo for their next number. Guitarist Johnny Ramone and drummer Tommy Ramone would slam into breakneck unison with a power that could make audience members lean back, as if they’d been slammed in the chest. Johnny and Dee Dee played with legs astride, looking unconquerable. Between them stood lead singer Joey Ramone – gangly, with dark glasses and a hair mess that fell over his eyes, protecting him from a world that had too often been unkind – proclaiming the band’s hilarious, disturbing tales of misplacement and heartbreak. There was a pleasure and spirit, a palpable commonality, in what the Ramones were doing onstage together.

Founded in New York City in 1974, the Ramones cultivated a simple three-chord sound that became the foundation of punk rock. Played at a blistering tempo, frequently lasting little more than two minutes, and with catchy, often willfully inane lyrics (so stupid they were smart, according to some critics), Ramones songs such as “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker,” and “I Wanna Be Sedated” contrasted sharply with the complex, carefully orchestrated mainstream rock of the era. In ripped jeans and black leather jackets, the Ramones made their reputation with almost-nonstop touring and energetic live performances, notably at New York City’s CBGB club. Their tour of England in 1976 proved a major inspiration for the punk movement in Britain, where they enjoyed greater commercial success than at home. Influenced by the rebelliousness of their contemporaries the New York Dollsand by 1960s pop music (especially bubblegum and surf music), the Ramones brought their back-to-basics approach to such albums as their eponymous debut (1976) and Rocket to Russia (1977). With a shifting lineup, they continued to record and perform into the 1990s, disbanding in 1996. In 2002 the Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2011 they received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, Punk Rock Edition, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

The Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band that formed in London in 1975. They were responsible for initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and inspiring many later punk and alternative rock musicians. Although their initial career lasted just two and a half years and produced only four singles and one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, they are regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of popular music.

The Sex Pistols ARE punk; the rest are “punk rock”.

In mid-1970s Great Britain, punk rock spoke to the frustrations and rage of mostly working-class adolescents and young adults, frustrations and rage the punks of that moment wore on their proverbial sleeves. This was apparent in their fashion, in their politics, and in the music to which they listened — breakneck songs played at harsh volumes by do-it-yourself players who might have only picked up their instruments a week before someone booked them for a basement gig or pushed “Record” on the tape deck.

Into this scene stepped the Sex Pistols — drummer Paul Cook, guitarist Steve Jones, bassist Sid Vicious, and the singer known as Johnny Rotten. The band’s music was a scabrous racket whose lyrics dealt with upending authority and good taste in all its forms; it was music to cause outrage, every blessed minute of it. “God save the Queen,” Rotten sang, “and her fascist regime.” But while the band was sowing chaos and thumbing their noses at censors, there was darkness afoot within the group itself. Drugs were a major factor, as was a personal animosity that developed between band members. After the band broke up, less than a year after most people had first heard of them, a deeper darkness descended, and lives were lost in its wake. This is the tragedy behind one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most incendiary musical forces — the Sex Pistols.

The Sex Pistols were born the day in 1975 that John Lydon walked into the band’s rehearsal space wearing a Pink Floyd T-shirt with the words “I Hate” written above the logo, and walked out of the rehearsal space as Johnny Rotten. For the next three years, the Pistols would tear through stages at colleges, art schools, and other establishments. Steve Jones summed up the band’s philosophy when he told a reporter, “Actually, we’re not into music. We’re into chaos.”

Sid Vicious joined the Sex Pistols in 1977, replacing Glen Matlock not because Sid could play bass (he couldn’t), but because he looked the part of a punk. The band’s single “God Save the Queen” was banned by the BBC but went to the top of the British singles chart anyway. In late October of that year they released their only studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, which Rolling Stone then called “just about the most exciting rock ‘n’ roll record of the ’70s.” Several major retailers in the U.K. refused to stock the record; nevertheless, it went into the British album chart at No. 1. In January 1978, the Pistols began a 12-date U.S. tour, but the group broke up after the final show in San Francisco, torn apart by in-fighting and drug use. At the show’s conclusion, Rotten asked the audience, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” He then dropped his microphone and left the stage.

Sid Vicious’ girlfriend Nancy Spungen was a Philadelphia native who arrived on the New York punk scene at age 17 and soon garnered a reputation as an extraordinarily dangerous character, in a culture full of dangerous characters. Immediately upon arrival, according to New York Magazine, she began abusing drugs, sleeping with musicians, and exhibiting violent tendencies. These were extensions of her harrowing childhood, when she was diagnosed with schizophrenia, placed in a boarding school for children with special needs, and committed to a mental institution. Her mother Deborah’s memoir, And I Don’t Want to Live This Life: A Mother’s Story of Her Daughter’s Murder, contains reminiscences of Spungen’s disturbing behavior as a child, from attempting to harm the family’s pet, to physical attacks on family members, to a spate of drug overdoses.

Eventually, Spungen ventured out to London where she met and became attached to Sid Vicious, just as the Sex Pistols were closing in on their historic flame-out. The rest of the band detested her, banning her from their ill-fated U.S. tour in 1978. In his memoir No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, Johnny Rotten called her “a very self-destructive human being who was determined to take as many people down with her as possible.” The tour ended with the Pistols breaking up, which allowed Sid and Nancy to head off together as they pleased.

Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen returned to England, where Vicious attempted to start a solo career, with Spungen now acting as his manager, or at least telling people she was. Things didn’t go well, so the pair decamped for New York in August 1978, moving into the Chelsea Hotel, the last stop for troubled people of all stripes. Returning to the city on the arm of a Sex Pistol was something Spungen lorded over her old New York punk cronies, who hadn’t much liked her to begin with. “Some people were outraged by it,” photographer Eileen Polk told New York Magazine. “They just couldn’t believe that she had succeeded in her quest.”

Life for the punk couple was anything but idyllic. Their drug intake, for one, had spiraled out of control. Guitarist Richard Lloyd told New York Magazine, “To hang out with Nancy and Sid was to make a grievous mistake for your own health.” At the Chelsea on the night of October 11, witnesses saw Vicious take as many as 30 tablets of the sedative Tuinal and pass out, according to Rolling Stone. Spungen was last seen at 2:30 a.m., asking one of Vicious’ friends to go out and get drugs. At 10:00 a.m., Vicious called the front desk, saying he’d awoken and found Spungen dead on the floor of their bathroom, stabbed in the abdomen. That afternoon, he was arrested for her murder; he confessed to the crime, but later recanted.

In early December 1978, Sid Vicious, out on bail awaiting trial for Nancy Spungen’s murder, was sent to Rikers Island prison after being arrested for assaulting a man in a bar fight. While at Rikers, he went through detox and rehabilitation, and upon completing rehab in February 1979, he was once again released on bail. According to The Independent, his mother, Anne Beverley (who herself had a drug habit), threw Vicious a party at his new girlfriend Michelle Robinson’s apartment to celebrate his release. Eileen Polk was there and remembered, “It got late and the guys with drugs showed up, and the rest is history.”

“History” has shown that Vicious was found dead by Beverley and Robinson around noon the next day, according to Rolling Stone. He was lying face up in bed, with Robinson sleeping next to him. The New York Daily News reported at the time that Vicious had injected drugs in a bathroom during the party, and quoted the medical examiner on the scene as saying “individuals who have been detoxified are vulnerable to overdoses if they go back to taking drugs in the same quantity as before.” There were some, however, who thought the overdose was a suicide, the result of a pact between Vicious and Spungen. No real evidence of any such bargain has ever been revealed.

Some who knew Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen find it inconceivable that he would kill her. “He was just too much in love with her,” photographer Dennis Morris told The Telegraph. For years, rumors surfaced about who other than Vicious might have been responsible. Rolling Stone cited punk author Phil Strongman in reporting that the actor and drug dealer known as Rockets Redglare might have been responsible. Vicious had received a royalty payment for $25,000 from his record company, and, according to Strongman, the room at the Chelsea had cash all over it.

The 10 Best Misfits Songs

“Candy apples and razor blades, little dead are soon in graves / I remember Halloween / This day anything goes, burning bodies hanging from poles / I remember Halloween!”

Thus cried Glenn Danzig in the classic Misfits song named for today’s hellacious, hallowed holiday, recasting Halloween as a day of purest evil instead of the plastic-pumpkin candy-grab it really is. The song itself is a gory little gem — a great song from a collection of accidentally brilliant songs — but it’s not good enough to make this list. Fuck it — Halloween is here! What better way to celebrate than a collection of the absolute best graveyard classics from the masters of unintentional comedy and gore-spattered punk ‘n’ roll? You know the Misfits, and you love the Misfits because they’re the fucking Misfits. You can’t hate them without hating fun itself.

For the uninitiated (for shame!), the Misfits crawled out of New Jersey way back in 1977 with a new take on punk rock: They took boring, comparatively straitlaced New York punk for a hell-ride, fashioning themselves after undead greasers with corpsepaint and trademark devilocks. The songs were sped-up ’50s rock played terribly with an evil-Elvis impersonation on top that almost masked the genius of the vocal hooks Danzig was able to pull from god knows where. For a band that could barely play their instruments, these guys could crank out the hits like no other. Lyrics fell between horror-fueled fantasies of violence and nonsensically sexualized celebrity obsessions, but they came off like alternate-dimension radio classics — Danzig’s croon easily sold lines about killing babies, inseminating little girls, and being, uh, 138.

Sadly, the Misfits came to an unfortunate end in 1983, due to the usual shitty reasons that cause young punk bands to break up. Glenn Danzig immediately moved on to heavier, less-punk sounds with his next band, Samhain, which would eventually morph into Danzig (the band). The remaining members, led by bassist Jerry Only, eventually (and unfortunately) won the rights to use the Misfits name and hired one Michale Graves to replace their irreplaceable singer. Several tours happened, countless T-shirts were sold, and a few terrible records were released before Graves split to leave the frustratingly persistent Jerry Only to front the band. No late-period Misfits will appear in this list, rest assured. 

Which leads me to the task at hand: I will do the impossible here by attempting to select a measly 10 Misfits tracks to help us celebrate this most haunted holiday and most excellent band. One production note: The Misfits’ catalog gets messy as all hell — songs were re-released and re-recorded, repurposed from live recordings, and sometimes unceremoniously overdubbed by an angry Danzig (see: all of Legacy Of Brutality) — so we’re not including original release dates this time around. Suffice to say, all these songs (and many more great ones!) can be found in varying shapes on The Misfits (also called “Collection I”), Collection IIWalk Among UsStatic Age, and Legacy Of Brutality, as well as the four-disc box set that collects all relevant Misfits goodness from the Danzig era. With a catalog full of classics, it’s inevitable many favorites will be overlooked. Trust me, I love them all — I just love these more. Feel free to unleash the hounds in the comments section and tell me exactly why “Rat Fink” should be on here.

10. “Mommy Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight?”

For all the talk of hooks and ’50s crooning, the Misfits also made for a hell of a hardcore band. They’d dive deeper into hardcore with the Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood album, but they’d never outdo the filth and fury of “Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?” Released smack dab in the middle of studio album Walk Among Us, “Mommy” is a live track that kicks ass by simply kicking ass. Your typical deranged Danzig rant leads into one of the best Misfits moments ever when the song lurches to a sudden stop. Everything hangs for a second before Danzig screams the title — “Mommy? Can I go out and … kill tonight?” — and we bash our way through the song in double-time. For a song about a bullied kid murdering the world, they nail the tone. As a teenager, this was the soundtrack for head-banging and trashing my room.

9. “Horror Business”

The Misfits’ third single, released in 1978, “Horror Business” is a perfect case of the absurd legends that arise from vague, violent lyrics. With lines like “You don’t go in the bathroom with me” and “I’m warning you, I’ll put a knife right in you”, folks have long theorized it was about Sid and Nancy (she was stabbed to death in a bathroom, quite possibly by Sid), or that it’s a warning to gay fans not to follow Glenn into the shitter. In reality, it’s a clear reference to the movie Psycho, with the line “Psycho ’78” meant to transpose the timeframe of the original story to the year they recorded the song. As we all know, Norman Bates, the titular pyscho, stabbed Janet Leigh in the bathroom in Hitchcock’s classic. Misfits lyrics are rarely deep, just awesome. Also of historical note: the “Horror Business” single marked the first appearance of the impossibly cool Misfits mascot, the Crimson Ghost.

8. “Astro Zombies”

One of Danzig’s best tricks is his ability to sing a line about the extinction of the human race like he’s belting it out to his girlfriend, Betty Sue, as she drives off into the distance, leaving sad Glenn to weep mascara into his devilock. He imbues so much charisma and heart into every single line, you’d be forgiven for thinking he’s singing about something real — and that’s what makes it so magical. All that feeling paired with this melody, and you’ve got a classic Misfits banger fit for the end of the world.

7. “Bullet”

“Like a dry desert soaking up rain, soaking up sun.” It sounds like a nice enough line out of context. In this case, Danzig is singing about Jackie O licking up … semen. Barf as you see fit. “Bullet” retells the story of the assassination of JFK by fixating on nauseating details: the president’s bullet-ridden body in the street, his shattered head hitting concrete, and most curiously, the mental state of his wife. After shouting about JFK for half the song, Danzig shifts gears and suddenly belts “You gotta suck, suck, Jackie suck.” The rest of the song becomes a singular, morbid vision of Jackie O masturbating the dead president for his vital fluids with which to (presumably) sustain her gold-digging lifestyle. Naturally.

6. “Hybrid Moments”

“If you’re gonna scream, scream with me / moments like this never last.” That’s the opening line to “Hybrid Moments,” a song about creatures raping faces and crying girls and other nonsense, but Danzig might as well be singing about the song itself. Misfits songs are short — painfully short. Brief little bursts of gore and joy that rock so hard you bang your fist and scream along straight through till the end, which usually hits after 90 seconds of ecstatic bliss. “Hybrid Moments” roars in like a banshee and tears out of there before you know what hit you — it’s a roller coaster of melody that stops short and leaves you hanging, hungry for more.

5. “Where Eagles Dare”

How can a perfect song be such a lyrical mess? Only Danzig knows. With a rumbling bass from hell holding down the bottom, we get batshit lines like, “An omelet of disease awaits your noontime meal / her mouth of germicide seducing all your glands” before the chorus drops the classic hook: “I ain’t no goddamn son of a bitch!” Reading through the theories at reveals that (A) this has nothing to do with the classic World War II movie of the same name and (B) most folks think it’s a song about prostitutes. In which case “an omelet of disease” is suddenly twice as gross. But there’s no question the song is gold, to the point where the phrase “goddamn son of a bitch” has become indelibly linked with the band. When metal/hardcore/whatever band Trap Them snuck the line into a song last year, there was no question from whence it came.

4. “London Dungeon”

For a band mostly known for whoa-oh vocals and huge choruses, it’s refreshing to hear a song with such a delicious riff. The band as a whole finally deliver at the same level as Danzig, which is a rare occurrence in the Misfits canon. The stuttering snare, the ominous bass, and that infectious, near-metal, goth-baiting guitar — every piece setting the stage for the perfect chorus. Despite their origins and the roughshod execution of most of the songs, the Misfits were capable of serious songcraft, as proven here. For once the song’s lyrics are no mystery: Upon visiting the UK for an ill-fated tour with the Damned, Danzig and then-guitarist Bobby Steele attempted to do battle with skinheads and wound up in jail for a few nights. Danzig, sassy bitch that he is, turned a feather-ruffling experience into one of the best punk songs ever written.

3. “Skulls”

Ask me my favorite Misfits song, go ahead. It’s “Skulls”! It’s hard to quantify exactly how and why “Skulls” rips so fucking hard, but I suppose we’d better try. The song itself is simple four-chord punk, nothing fancy. Lyrics? Practically retarded. But when the chorus hits, all I want are skulls. It’s all in the delivery: When Danzig sings that he wants your skull, it’s like he’s never wanted anything so badly. Yet there’s something tugging at the back of his heart, something in the way he holds back during the verse: He almost feels bad about it. Not so bad as to NOT sever your head and mount your skull on the wall, leaving your body to seep out its precious blood like devil’s rain (his words), but still: Danzig feels some modicum of sorrow for his insatiable need. It’s essentially a wistful, yearning love song for your severed head. Complex shit. This is my favorite Misfits tune without question, though it’s hard to call it their “best” when the next two are pretty much untouchable ….

2. “Last Caress”

It’s the big one — the one everyone knows. The one with the nastiest lyrics ever set to an anthem meant for fist-pumping sing-alongs. Metallica covered it and made it legitimately famous without even touching on the quality of the original. AFI covered it and we’re better off forgetting they tried. By this point, “Last Caress” is practically played out, but the song still stands as one of the best the Misfits would ever produce. Heck, it’s one of the best songs ever produced by the punk genre. “Sweet lovely death, I’m waiting for your breath ….” Danzig’s final, “One … last … caress!” is as timeless and classic as anything to come out of the ’50s, just as melodic, and a million times deadlier. Which is why it’s almost the best thing they’d ever do

1. “Die, Die My Darling”

This — the sixth and final Misfits single ever released before the painful-to-watch, even-worse-to-hear Michale Graves/Jerry Only period — is about as good as it gets. The band had broken up by the time it came out in 1984, though “Die, Die My Darling” was actually recorded in 1981 for the Walk Among Ussessions, and — somehow, amazingly — left off that album. By Misfits standards, the 3:11 running time is an eternity — but that’s part of the magic. Never once does the energy flag. The stomp that launches the song out the gate carries through the entire running time, building up to stomp even harder before crumbling to chaos at the end. An insistent single-note guitar lead ratchets the tension as high as it can go while Danzig howls his way through a song about killing his unnamed darling. It’s single-minded and nasty, pissed as fuck and perfect. “I’ll be seeing you in hell.” Released when it was, it’s easy to picture Danzig aiming the sentiment at his former bandmates, or even the band itself. Then again, Misfits lyrics are rarely deep. Either way, it was the perfect sendoff for one of the best punk bands of all time.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series 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!

In this punk classic, Iggy Pop sings about how he wants to be used sexually by a woman. Songs like this helped establish Iggy as a punk icon known for unpredictable and outrageous behavior. In an interview with Howard Stern, he explained the sentiment behind the song: “Have you ever seen like a really good looking girl, really nicely dressed, and she’s walking down the street with her dog, right? And like her dog is… intimate with her body, and she likes him and everything. Basically, it’s the idea of I want to unite with your body. I don’t wanna talk about literature with you or judge you as a person. I wanna dog you.”

This track is well known for its three-chord riff and a continuously repeated single piano note, played by Velvet Underground founding member John Cale, who also produced the track. These elements, along with the heavily distorted sound, has lead critics to consider the track an early example of heavy metal and punk music.

Yes, those are sleigh bells that play throughout the song. Iggy Pop was always looking for unusual instrumentation – on “Search And Destroy” you’ll hear swords in the background.

The song has been covered by numerous artists, including Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Hole, The Sex Pistols, Slayer and Joan Jett. It has also featured in many films, most notably the 1996 action film The Crow: City of Angels, in which vocalist Iggy Pop played the role of Curve, one of the film’s villains.

Well into his 60s, this song still inspired Iggy Pop to rekindle his notorious stage antics, particularly the stage dive: “because it is our oldest, and most very, very memorable number, I do it,” Iggy told Classic Rock Revisited. “I also do it on that song because I push so hard on the first two versus that I can’t think of anything to do by the time the guitar solo comes around. When the guitar solo comes, I tend to do a stage dive to go with the solo.”

This was used in the movies Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Friday Night Lights among many others.

Jim Carroll: People Who Died (1980)

Jim Carroll Band

When Jim Carroll died in September 2009 at age 60, it went largely unnoticed by the rock culture which had once embraced him, and had spoken about this New York poet-turned-singer in the same breath as Patti Smith and Lou Reed.

Carroll’s rock career was admittedly short — a few albums in the early Eighties and little else — but his literary life was fascinating. And well known to the post-punk generation.

His ’78 autobiographical story of his teenage time on a basketball scholarship but in with drug scene was turned into the movie The Basketball Diaries in ’95 which starred a young Leo DiCaprio as Carroll.

The film — later to be controversial, see clip below — was courageous in showing the world of heroin in New York in the Seventies, and its effects on people. It came with a tagline about “the death of innocence and the birth of an artist.”

This is what Jim carroll had to say in an interview with Elsewhere:

My friends just had hysterics. I don’t think my innocence was dead by the end of the book, or the end of the film for that matter. It was just tarnished.”

As an established poet (books, increasingly on spoken word albums) and performing on the same circuit as Patti Smith and hanging out with Lou Reed, his move into rock’n’roll performance was perhaps inevitable.

“From when I was very young, people always used to tell me that I had this rock’n’roll presence when I used to do poetry readings, and would tell me I really should try to do rock’n’roll. And when I finally did do it, I did it really intensely, without looking back.

I didn’t want to just do it in some dilettantish sense, I wanted to give my energy over to it completely.”

To his credit he did, briefly.

He got a band together — rather workmanlike Stonesy rock — and toured, made albums and so forth. But the albums never really cut it and his best shots were on his debut, Catholic Boy of 1980, for which he also enlisted Lenny Kayeand Blue Oyster Cult’s Alan Lanier.

The single however, People Who Died, does have a grim and desperate quality as it strings together a litany of his friends who were killed, or killed themselves, in sometimes unusual ways (“a bottle of Draino on the night that he was wed”?).

Yes, it’s silly if you read it as self-aggrandizing and embracing the death cult which rock culture seems so fascinated by (JanisJimiJimKurt! et al).

But the relentless momentum, the increasing anger and the mindlessly air-punching chorus lifted this beyond a cool, slim and cheek-boned poet having a dabble in rock’n’roll.

Although in retrospect, despite what he said at the time, that’s pretty much what it was.

Jim Carroll Band – People Who Died

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Dead Boys: Young, Loud And Snotty

I was in high school during the glory years of the original wave of punk rock, so there is a bit of nostalgia involved with my choice of Dead Boys’ wonderfully titled debut, Young Loud And Snotty (1977), but beyond that, the Dead Boys flat out rocked. The first song on the album, Sonic Reducer, remains one of the best punk rock songs of all time, and the rest of the album doesn’t let up from its choke hold on the listener’s neck for a single second.

The band members had awesome stage names: Stiv Bators on lead vocals, Cheetah Chrome on lead guitar, Jimmy Zero on rhythm guitar, Jeff Magnum on bass, and Johnny Blitz on drums.

Young Loud And Snotty was recorded at the legendary Electric Lady Studios in New York, but Dead Boys were from Cleveland, Ohio, which basically made them neighbors to those of us Indiana natives who were into punk early.

Oh yes, there is also a song with the creatively over-the-top title Caught With The Meat In Your Mouth. Even if the record sucked (which it doesn’t), that title would have qualified Dead Boys for my list.

Attitude like theirs demands to be recognized and respected. Now go find a copy of Sonic Reducer and blow up some speakers!

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams


Punk rock was owned by these four leather jacketed New Yorkers who shared a common adopted last name and a band who changed everything…Ramones.

In keeping with the no frills nature of the music they created, I will keep this review short and to the point.

Rocket To Russia was quite possibly the best record Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and Tommy ever put out.

It was the last one with the original lineup.

It featured the immortal classics Sheena Is A Punk Rocker, Teenage Lobotomy, Rockaway Beach, Cretin Hop, We’re A Happy Family, I Don’t Care, as well as two magnificent covers, Surfin’ Bird (The Trashmen) and Do You Wanna Dance? (Bobby Freeman).

Great stuff from the greatest punk band in history…1!2!3!4! Hey, Ho…Let’s go!

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