In the daylight hours, Ace’s Steele Road HQ is a bastion of benign almost blissful tranquillity but when darkness descends upon the House of Ace in misty Harlesden, the spirits rise and the forsaken slither from the dismal, fetid waters of the nearby swamp (you mean the Grand Union Canal, surely? – Ed.)
Venturing into the macabre, the compilers worked on this project only after the chimes had struck midnight. By candlelight, swatting away the bats fluttering around the room and gripped by a creepy sense of foreboding, they toiled towards Pumpkin Time. In due course, to quote Bobby “Boris” Pickett, the guests included Wolfman, Dracula and his son, together with the meta-physical presence of Screaming Lord Sutch – the poor guy really is dead now. (Get on with it, this isn’t A Night At The Museum –Ed.)
Actually, “Mostly Ghostly” is not merely entertaining in an oldschool horror way, it also contains some genuinely unnerving moments such as Chuck Holden’s ‘The Cave’, a 50s obscurity by an outwardly conservative musician that begs the question WHAT was he thinking? Check it out - if your nerves can stand it.
Terry Teen’s ‘The Hearse’ (sometimes known as ‘The Curse of The Hearse’) has long been an underground favourite. As far as Halloween records go, it touches the furthermost extreme by dealing with the subject of decomposition. For daring-do, it probably remains unrivalled and makes its legit CD debut here along with the story behind the song, told for the first time.
There’s the original 1962 recording of ‘The Goo Goo Muck’ by Ronnie Cook & the Gaylads, produced by the veteran character actor Aki Aleong in 1962 when, in a prior existence, he was an impecunious songwriter-producer peddling his wares to fly-by-night labels in LA. The world never got to hear it then and it wasn’t until the Cramps recorded the song some 20 years later, that ‘The Goo Goo Muck’ found a receptive audience.
Rockabilly fans will probably be familiar with Rod Willis’ The Cat’, a middle-aged daddy-o’s vision of hip talk mixed with graveyard banter. Willis and a rather hip rockabilly band put in a convincing performance that overcame the deficiencies of the material without raising too many guffaws. In an ironic postscript, the guy who wrote it ended up selling cemetery lots in Dallas in the early 1970s.
Easily distinguishable by their over-compressed, other worldly ambience, both ‘Night Of The Vampire’ by the Moontrekkers and ‘’Til The Following Night’ by Screaming Lord Sutch were produced by the mercurial Joe Meek. The progenitor of resurrection rock, Sutch started as he intended to continue with the hyper-frenetic ‘’Til The Following Night’ paving the way for further horror themed efforts such as ‘Black And Hairy’, a superior effort that became a staple part of his stage pantomime. This is the rare and definitive 1966 original, not the later re-record.
Clearly inspired by Napoleon XIV’s ‘They’re Coming To Take Me Away’, Boots Walker’s ‘They’re Here’ was an altogether more substantial record, warning of the sinister presence of extra-terrestrials. A minor hit in the Summer of Love, it appears here belatedly for the first time on CD; its release will be welcomed by many.
There’s a wonderful sense of theatre to “Mostly Ghostly” helped by the sheer variety of the material and the way with each track neatly dovetails into the next. It’s a Halloween must-have and an evergreen for all lovers of Horror Rock.
By Rob Finnis