31 Songs Of Halloween 2016

Alice Cooper: Keepin' Halloween Alive

It's our favorite time of the year again, and just like we did last year and the year before, throughout the whole month, we will be posting daily about some great Halloween themed songs, counting down to October 31st.

Like last year, we kick off the event most appropriately with the rock 'n' roll face of Halloween himself, Alice Cooper and his 2009 seasonal single, Keepin' Halloween Alive, a two-minute rocker with all the characteristic of an all-time classic.

The 2016 edition of 31 Songs Of Halloween begins right here…

The Edgar Winter Group: Frankenstein

One of the most recognizable rock instrumentals of all time took the inspiration for its title based on the fact that its final version was heavily edited, pieced together from different cuts and much longer than the original recording, being a sort of a "monstrous" creation by the band that featured drummer Chuck Ruff who was the one that came up with Frankenstein as the title.

Frankenstein was one of The Edgar Winter Group's most popular songs, produced by Rick Derringer and included in their 1972 album, They Only Come Out At Night, together with their second biggest hit, Free Ride.

Billy Preston: Creature Feature

Of all the albums Billy Preston released under his own name, ranging from 1963 to 2001, the one that's exactly in the middle of his record chronology, 1974's The Kids & Me is arguably the most indicative one of his solo career. It included the hit Nothing From Nothing, Joe Cocker's eventual hit You Are So Beautiful, and Creature Feature, a splendid album cut and one of Preston's funkiest moments.

Classics IV: Spooky

Before Ron Hirsch added the lyrics about a spooky little girl he used to know, Classic IV's first single after their deal with Imperial, and their most notorious hit was scheduled to be released as an instrumental. Spooky became an instant hit in 1967 (#3 in the US) and a classic Halloween playlist entry, and since then it's been recorded by countless artists, including Atlanta Rhythm Section (that featured Classics IV's James Cobb), Dusty Springfield, Andy Williams, Lydia Lunch and more.

The Castle Kings: You Can Get Him Frankenstein

Written by two of pop music's immortal giants, Phil Spector and Ahmet Ertegun (together with a third co-writer named Ed Adlum), You Can Get Him Frankenstein was recorded in 1961 by the doo wop group, The Castle Kings, about whom there's not much to tell, since they only released one more single a year later and disappeared for good.

You Can Get Him Frankenstein is enthusiastically inspired by the classic Universal monster movies, and in it Frankenstein is the hero, the narrator's friend who helps him fight off the Wolfman and Dracula from getting his girl, but eventually Frankie turn out to be a little sneaky himself...

The Duponts: Screamin' Ball (At Dracula Hall)

Like with most of the dozens of vocal groups that turned up from every corner in the 1950s, there isn't much to tell about Brooklyn quartet, The Duponts, except that their initial (1955 to 1957) lineup featured a young Anthony Gourdin, later of Little Anthony & The Imperials. Right after Anthony left The Duponts to join that band which was then called The Chesters, The Duponts recorded Screamin' Ball (At Dracula Hall), led by another of the group's founding members, Ricky Bracey. The record was very well received by radio stations and reviewers of the time, but since it was released in March and not October, when it would have been a more appropriate time for the song, it was quickly forgotten and also overshadowed by the similarly themed, Dinner With Drac by Zacherley.

The Fleshtones: I Was A Teenage Zombie

I Was A Teenage Zombie is the title track from the classic 1987 comedy/horror film by John Elias Michalakis. The Fleshtones' track was part of a much admired among the indie community soundtrack that also featured The Del Fuegos, The dB's, Bob Pfeifer, Dream Syndicate, Violent Femmes, The Waitresses, The Smithereens, Los Lobos, Alex Chilton and the Ben Vaughn Group.

The video found its way on the playlists of MTV's alternative shows and was a career highlight for the band, which started way back in 1976 and continues being active to this day.

The Raveonettes: My Boyfriend's Back

My Boyfriend's Back - the song - originated as a different song with a totally different meaning, written by Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer and recorded for the first time by the girl group, The Angels, in 1963. In the song the narrator warns an admirer/stalker of hers to back off, since her boyfriend is back in town, but since the 1993 horror-comedy film of the same name which was formerly titled Johnny Zombie and directly referred to The Angels' hit, the song got a whole other meaning.

Among the many times the song had been covered in various styles and genres is The Raveonettes' version, which was included in the excellent soundtrack for the video game Stubbs The Zombie, alongside indie greats like Ben Kweller, The Dandy Warhols, The Flaming Lips, Death Cab For Cutie, The Walkmen, Cake and more, all of which do covers of hits from the fifties and the sixties.

The Cramps: Burn She-Devil, Burn

1997's Big Beat From Badsville is the only album by The Cramps that does not feature a cover song, at least in its original version, before the reissues and the additional tracks. Burn She-Devil, Burn is an original rockabilly killer which sounds like it's been dug straight out of the fifties, written by Lux Interior and Poison Ivy Rorschach.

Horrorpops: Ghouls

Although Horrorpops released their debut album, Hell Yeah!, in 2004, the band goes way back to the mid-nineties when it was conceived by husband and wife, Kim Nekroman (of Nekromantix) and Patricia Day. Ghouls was initially part of a seven-song demo recording that the band passed around to the press. The song quickly became a hit at the clubs in Copenhagen and eventually the band released it as a single on Rancid Records in Fall of 2003. After that, plus a successful US tour and an article about them in Vogue Magazine, Horrorpops caught the eye of Hellcat Records, which released their debut album, comprised of the aforementioned demo, alongside six additional tracks.

The band is still active, although they haven't released anything since 2008, when they put out their most successful album so far, Kiss Kiss Kill Kill.

Nekromantix: Gargoyles Over Copenhagen

Gargoyles Over Copenhagen was the first music video that Nekromantix did in over a decade. The song was part of the 2002 album Return Of The Loving Dead, the last one they did while still based in Denmark, before Kim Nekroman's permanent move to the US, and featured the band's longest running lineup, which included Nekroman and brothers Peter and Kristian Sandorff.

Captain Clegg & The Night Creatures: Zombie A Go Go

With a name inspired by Hammer Films' 1962 classic horror flick starring Peter Cushing, Captain Clegg And The Night Creatures was actually the fictional psychobilly band put together by alt-country musician, Jesse Dayton, for Rob Zombie's 2009 film Halloween II.

The band appeared briefly in the film, however they released a full length album of horror-themed songs. Its opener, Zombie A Go Go, even though it was not the album's best moment, it had a fun music video.

The Bomboras: Forbidden Planet

With their name taken from a 1960s instrumental by The Original Surfaris, The Bomboras was an instrumental garage/surf rock band, active from 1995 to 2000. The band released a bunch of low-budget albums, EPs and singles, most of which on the great surf-punk indie label, Dionysus Records, although the album they're mostly known for is Head Shrinkin' Fun, their 1998 one and only release on Rob Zombie's Zombie A Go-Go Records, distributed by Geffen to a much wider audience than what the band was used to until then.

Forbidden Planet was one of their earliest releases, included on the 1995 EP of the same name.

After The Bomboras split up in 2000, some of the members went on to form the psych/garage band, The Lords Of Altamont, while others formed another garage/surf band, The Legendary Invisible Men.

The Pandoras: Haunted Beach Party

In 1984 there were two bands around using the name The Pandoras, after the original which formed in 1983 and split up due to creative differences. The first led by Paula Pierce released It's About Time (which featured the astray members too) on Voxx, now a garage rock revival classic, while the other led by Bambi Conway and Gwynne Kelly played gigs using the name without Pierce. The second version of The Pandoras appeared on record only once, on a compilation by Enigma Records, but eventually the version of the band led by Pierce was the one that prevailed and got to keep the name for good. The Pandoras we all know about today later changed the direction of their sound and style, released two more studio albums and a few EPs, until Paula's untimely death in 1991 of an aneurysm at the age of 31.

Despite the band's noble hard rock efforts of their latter period, none of that material matched the qualities of their garage-rocking debut on which Haunted Beach Party exists.

The Overcoat: Dia De Los Muertos

The band formed in Tucson, AZ, in 1986 by Timothy Gassen who was then using the name "Randy Love", started out as The Marshmallow Overcoat, shortened their name to simply The Overcoat a few years later and returned to their initial moniker again in the mid-nineties. Influenced by the West Coast sound of the sixties and bands like The Doors, The Chocolate Watchband and The Electric Prunes in particular, The Marshmallow Overcoat was one of the most important acts in the reviving neo-psychedelic wave of american bands that came out in the eighties and formed the Paisley Underground scene.

A Touch Of Evil was their third and last album as just The Overcoat, released in 1993 on the German garage rock label, Music Maniac Records.

Concrete Blonde: Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)

Concrete Blonde was one of the most underrated, unsung heroes of the nineties alternative rock universe, having started back in the mid-eighties and released a total of five albums while in their prime, before disbanding and reuniting for a couple of times in the 2000s.

Right in the middle of this 1986 to 1993 run, shines Bloodletting, an album that finds the band turning direction from alt-rock to gothic rock in a time when the genre was booming with loads of excellent bands. Despite the fact that the gothic rock competition was strong, Concrete Blonde did not go in unprepared. Bloodletting, heavily influenced by Anne Rice's distinguished Vampire Chronicles series of novels, became the band's best known album and got the "deluxe reissue" treatment in 2010, getting some well deserved, still late recognition twenty years after its original release.

The title track features the guest vocals of Dream Syndicate's Steve Wynn, while the rest of the album includes more guest appearances by R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, Wall Of Voodoo's Andy Prieboy, from David Bowie's band, Gail Ann Dorsey, and mega producer John Keane.

Public Image Ltd.: Graveyard

Graveyard was the instrumental side-D closer of Public Image Ltd.'s notorious sophomore album, known simply as Metal Box, the original version of which was composed of three 12-inch EPs played at 45rpm, and later issued as Second Edition on four 12-inch records at 33rpm with a different track order.

Graveyard was later, with the addition of lyrics, transformed into Another, which was used as the B-side to the single Memories. According to guitarist Keith Levene the guitar parts of the song were mostly improvised and for them he got carried away by Jah Wobble's bassline and Richard Dudanski's drumming.

The album did fairly well in the UK charts, but did not enter the US charts at all, as there were no singles from it released in the USA; a fact absolutely irrelevant, because Metal Box / Second Edition is a landmark for the post punk genre anyway, and one of the greatest records of all time.

Misfits: Night Of The Living Dead

There is no Halloween without the sounds of the ultimate horror punk band.

Obviously inspired by the 1968 film of the same name, Night Of The Living Dead was Misfits' fourth single, released on Halloween 1979, together with b-sides, Where Eagles Dare (which borrows its title from another 1968 film, the war movie starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood) and Rat Fink, a cover of a song by Allan Sherman.

Night Of The Living Dead was later included in the band's debut full length, Walk Among Us and different versions of it found their ways onto compilations like Misfits, the coffin boxset and the unofficial 12 Hits From Hell.

Lemonheads: Skulls

This is what happens when one amazing band covers another...

Lemonheads' version of Skulls, a Misfits classic, was originally included on the US version of their 1990 EP, Favourite Spanish Dishes. It was an extra track to the two originals and the Stone Poneys cover, together with yet another cover, New Kids On The Block's Step By Step.

Dando's band was always good at doing covers and they're mostly known for those rather than their originals, at least to the mainstream masses, and the laid back, acoustic version of theirs on Skulls is surely no exception.

Both the original and the cover were issued as a limited edition 7-inch single, as part of the Side By Side series on Record Store Day 2013, in order to celebrate records, record stores and aggressive commercialism...

The custom made video that follows may be a little distracting in regards to the music, but this is what we get for now...

Samhain: The Howl

After his departure from Misfits, Glenn Danzig formed another, heavier sounding, still horror themed band, named Samhain, inspired by the ancient Celtic New Year that evolved to modern day's Halloween. Samhain was basically the band that would develop to become the more appreciated, Danzig, a few years later, using the same band logo and font.

Samhain released a total of three LPs (the last of which came out three years after they had already become Danzig), one EP and one live album in the short time of their existence. Initium, the band's first, carried that name to symbolically speak for not only the start of the newfound band, but also for the new turn in Danzig's career, towards a more gothic rock, more metal approach that he would carry along to the next rendition of his band.

The Damned: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

From their formation in 1976 to 1980, The Damned had already taken the world of punk by storm and released three albums, all of which are now essential classics for the punk and post-punk genres.  1980 marks an important change in the band's style and sound, as well as lineup. Eddie And The Hot Rod's Paul Gray joins in to replace Algy Ward on bass and The Damned put out their fourth full length, The Black Album, which was their darkest piece of work that far and a clear turn into gothic rock.

The album's side-2 opener, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde was released on I.R.S. as a single in the US to promote The Black Album. 

The footage that follows is from BBC's Something Else, broadcasted on November 17th 1980.

Blind Willie Johnson: Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground

When in 1977 astronomer Carl Sagan and his team were tasked to collect a series of sounds that would represent life on Earth and the human experience to be sent to space on the Voyager spacecraft, alongside the sounds of crickets and frogs they collected, they also included a series of songs from all over the world. One of them was the classic gospel blues song, Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground, that Blind Willie Johnson first recorded in 1927.

The classic song may be in essence an instrumental though it also includes some indistinct vocals by Blind Willie Johnson, which are basically just hums and moans, yet based on the fact that the song was originally written in 1792 by English minister, Thomas Haweis, it is often pointed out that the song is about the crucifixion of Christ.

Johnson's exemplary bottleneck slide guitar which shines throughout the three-minute track has been one of the foundations upon which rock music was built decades later. A little short than a whole century since the song was recorded and today still, aesthetically it stands strong, as it has passed the infallible test of time as an immortal standard.

Lou Reed: Halloween Parade

Lou Reed's Halloween Parade, on 1989's New York album, is a dark lament influenced by the annual Halloween gay celebration in Greenwich Village. The song speaks roughly and honestly about Aids and the many people whose lives it claimed, released at a time when the disease's threat was at its maximum.

New York is one of Lou Reed's finest albums in that huge discography of his, lyrically heavy and deeply poetic, inspired from beginning to end by the city that had the biggest effect on him as an artist.

The Velvets' Maureen Tucker is on the album, as well as New York rock 'n' roll hero, Dion DiMucci, but none of them on this track. Lou's somber song, filled with colorful characters, odd charisma, sadness and death is one of his best album cuts ever and for many it is the darkest sequel Walk On The Wild Side could ever have.

Ryan Adams: Halloweenhead

After a few records in the mid-2000s as Ryan Adams & The Cardinals which didn't do as well as his earlier releases, Ryan Adams put out Easy Tiger in 2007, a record that earned him many favorable reviews and is now considered one of his finest.

Halloweenhead was also released as a double A-side single alongside Two. Its lyrics mention candy bags, black cats, tricks and tricks and its music video is comprised of footage of disco dancing instructions for and by Northern European gray haired people, but the song is actually about drug addiction and it's quite dark and heavy.

Necrophagia: Trick R' Treat (The Last Halloween)

Necrophagia is one of the oldest bands in death metal, formed in 1983 and released their first album, Season Of The Dead, in 1987. For a whole decade when they were disbanded and completely inactive, they were still receiving a lot of praise and respect from their peers and death metal fans from all over the world.

Frank Pucci, AKA Killjoy, the band's vocalist and only consistent member, reformed Necrophagia in 1997, recruiting new members, among whom was Pantera's Phil Anselmo on guitar and the band began a new phase in their career. Deathtrip 69, their fifth album, released in 2011, delayed since 2007, is a typical example of Necrophagia's extreme, gore-y death metal, which brought the band strongly into the new decade.

Type O Negative: Halloween In Heaven

It had been almost twenty years in the band's career when Peter Steele's death in 2010 from heart failure also marked the ending of Type O Negative's career. Their last album had been released three years earlier and it was received quite positively from both fans and critics, unexpectedly finishing the band's career on a high note.

Featuring an iconic, imposing portrait of Grigori Rasputin on its cover, Dead Again, Type O Negative's seventh full length, even went as high as #27 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart. Halloween In Heaven lists a bunch of deceased rock stars as residents of some kind of purgatory, John Bonham, John Enstwistle, Randy Rhoads, Bon Scott, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon and more, but not Elvis, because according to the song, he "ain't dead so he isn't (t)here..."

The Meteors: Halloween Scream

The Meteors, often hyped - and rightfully so - as the ultimate psychobilly band, is one of those few acts, alongside The Cramps and Misfits that appear on our Halloween songs list every year. 35 years after their first appearance on record, The Meteors, led by P. Paul Fenech, are still active and creative, and earlier in 2016 they released yet another album, The Power Of 3.

Halloween Scream is the opening track from the 2001 album, Psycho-Down!, one of their most loved by fans albums in their quite long list of records they've released since 1981.

The Shaggs: It's Halloween

The Shaggs was an all-female band from New Hampshire, which lasted from 1968 to 1975, released only one album, but after its demise, was rediscovered by the music media and gained the cult status that it deserved by being one of the first female alternative rock, proto-punk and outsider music acts ever.

The Shaggs were comprised of sisters Helen, Betty, and Dorothy Wiggin, and were strongly backed by their father, Austin, whose mother told him three predictions when he was young, after he had read his palm: he would marry a strawberry blonde woman, he would have two sons after she had died, and his daughters would form a popular music group. After the first two became true, Austin Wiggin set his mind to make the third one a reality too. When he died in 1975, The Shaggs disbanded, having drawn moderate success, mainly among local radio stations.

Philosophy Of The World, their only album, has been reissued multiple times. According to Kurt Cobain's handwritten diaries it was one of his 50 favorite records of all time and that tells a lot, because the man's tastes were quite eclectic...

Japan: Halloween

That brilliant band led by David Sylvian which started in the late seventies as a new wave act, but quickly developed to combine elements of synthpop, post-punk and glam rock to their sound, Japan, released five great records from 1978 to 1981 (plus one under a different moniker, when they reformed as Rain Tree Crow in 1991).

Midway through that five album list stands Quiet Life, their third full length and the first to chart in the UK, as their previous two albums only entered the charts in... Japan and Netherlands. Quiet Life marked the band's turn to a heavier-in-synth synthpop sound, after the glam rock style and sound of their first two. Today it is considered one of the very first records of the New Romantic movement. Sylvian's androgynous image is featured prominently on the cover and his trademark baritone style made its debut appearance on the record's eight songs.

Quite more down-to-earth and sober-minded than your average song about Halloween, Japan's Halloween was not among the couple of singles that Quiet Life sprung. Still it's a brilliant album cut and a nice representation of what people began calling "art pop" from then on.

Lonesome Wyatt And The Holy Spooks: Halloween Is Here

Southern gothic singer-songwriter, Lonesome Wyatt, has been very busy and exceedingly productive over the last decade, having produced stacks of albums, singles and EPs under different monikers, whether it is just as Lonesome Wyatt, with Those Poor Bastards, as Lonesome Wyatt And The Holy Spooks or his collaborative releases with Rachel Brooke.

Halloween Is Here, released in 2013, stands out as a fan favorite. Though it doesn't last longer than 23 minutes, the album is drenched in the spirit of Halloween from beginning to end, with its twelve tracks of nostalgic and spooky songs and narrations fitting perfectly the season's mood.

Judging from the plethora of work he's given the world so far, it's safe to say that Lonesome Wyatt is an old soul, and Halloween Is Here is an instant Halloween classic of the kind which they don't make them anymore.

Ripper: Halloween

Formed in Houston, TX in 1977, Ripper released their first album, ...And The Dead Shall Rise, almost a decade later, only to become an obscure collectible among fans of eighties' horror metal, since the band broke up a few years after its release.

Bringing to mind the sounds of King Diamond, Judas Priest or the less famous Exorcist and Halloween, things might have been a bit better for Ripper if they had been picked up by a major label, instead the 1986 first pressing of  ...And The Dead Shall Rise was on Iron Works and the 2003 reissue came via Black Widow Records.

Dedicated to the music's horror-themed relentless metal, all band members used extravagant monikers, like Rob Graves (the band's leader, guitarist and vocalist), Sadie Paine (bassist and vocalist), Johnny Crypt (guitarist) and J.D. Shadowz (drummer), and dressed up in fancy horror outfits and heavy make up. Their gutsy use of heavy synthesizers, quite fresh but frowned upon in the metal community at the time, was one of the elements that made ...And The Dead Shall Rise stand out and to this day be considered a cult metal classic.

This is our pick for Halloween day's post. Happy Halloween...

Note: 31 Songs Of Halloween 2016 was originally published as 31 daily individual posts throughout October 2016, and was later merged into a single article for ergonomic reasons.


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