Gore blimey, Boris, what manner of beast is this?
True to its Mission Statement of bringing great music back from the dead, the House of Wax that is forever Ace Records has (temporarily) nipped over to the dark side, to disinter more than two dozen monstrous goodies (and one or two baddies) from rock'n'roll's overflowing Vault of Horror. Ace's resident Scaredy Cats, Tony "Mummy's Boy" Rounce and Rob "Gratefully Undead" Finnis have been for a little walk through music's graveyard, trying to keep the dark forces at bay while they toiled to create a monster that is as ghastly as you'd hope any CD entitled "These Ghoulish Things" could ever be.
Working overtime on the graveyard shift we've unearthed more than two dozen mouldering oldies, assembling the finished CD from only the finest 'spare parts' and working at a pace that can truthfully be described as 'frightening'. The delights that your gruesome twosome have dug up include a number of tracks that have lain undisturbed in Rock'n'Roll's Vault Of Horror since their first appearances on vinyl in the 1950s or early 60s. These tracks include Billy De Marco and Count Dracula's Drac's Back which, it is alleged, had to be recorded at night, due to the ongoing unavailability of one of its vocalists during daylight hours and Orvin Yoes' staggeringly inept The Vampire, which sounds as though it actually might have been recorded from the inside of a coffin with the lid nailed down, and for which "amateurish" might probably be too kind a description. But before you start thinking that this is just another heap of musical body parts, randomly cobbled together to form any old monster (mish-) mash, we'd like to assure you that this really is a creation of a quality that any top notch mad scientist would be proud to call his own.
This CD's Theatre Of Blood or "bloooerghhhhh", as Allan Sherman's My Son, The Vampire would have it presents a horror show that's drawn almost exclusively from rock'n'roll's Ghoul-den age, its time span approximately matching the mid-late 50s peak of popularity for scary movies, and dovetailing with the latter's impact on post WWII teenage America. With teens being scared out of their wits at drive-in movie theatres all across the USA, it was only natural that horror would quickly work its way into rock'n'roll. How much it did so is reflected unless you're a crazy, mixed-up Transylvanian, in which case nothing is reflected, of course in the number of doo woppers who cut songs that related to the genre. At least 25% of the inclusions here are vocal group records, many by immortal names like the Hollywood Flames and the Jayhawks. Their cuts here, as well as those of many others that we've disinterred from the Vault Of Horror, have first class reputations that their 'novelty value' does nothing to besmirch.
Likewise, big bad Bo Diddley's meeting with an unspecified monster is just as compelling as any of his marginally less horrific encounters with the Chess brothers. Other notable rockers from the locker here include die-hard Memphis rockabilly-cum-bluesman Billy Lee Riley, who has brought along a plateful of Nightmare Mash for your delectation (goes down very well with a little spot of congealed blood, we find. We're also pleased to welcome some other larger than life-or-death personalities to our Screamin' Ball At Dracula Hall, both of whom are well known world wide for their ability to spin a scary story or two. That's Philadelphia's John "Dinner With Drac" Zacherle over there in the foyer drinkin' blood (spo-dee-o-dee) with the great Jalacy "Screamin' Jay" Hawkins, whose original version of his classic Feast Of The Mau Mau is, quite frankly, a howl from start to finish.
In the true spirit of Halloween, every major monster of the big or small screen gets a look in. From TV land we've invited the Munsters and the Addams Family, dressed in their best funeral clothes and ready to do The Voo Doo Walk with The Creature From Outer Space, The Wolfman and The Mummy (be careful not to step on the latter's loose bandages, Daddy-O), and if he can find his way over from Sleepy Hollow without his head Ichabod Crane. (If you lust for a vampire, you'll also find plenty to sink your teeth into here thanks to Allan Sherman, the Duponts and the aforementioned Mr Yoes.)
Those who can't get into this Monster Party will be found close to hand, Rockin' In The Graveyard with Jackie Morningstar or maybe just taking a Midnight Stroll with the Revels. Try to join our party if you can: Dr Frankenstein assures us it's going to be really "alive! ALIVE!!" And when the CD's over, be sure to catch the Ghost Train leaving from track 5, where Virgil Holmes is ready to get you back to the Old Dark House in time for a glass of gin (it's our only weakness) and hibernation 'til the following night.
We'd love to tell you more, but it's getting close to midnight and frankly we know what happens once the clock strikes twelve, and we don't want to stick around to witness it for ourselves.
"Fire bad!" "Friend good!!" "These Ghoulish Things even better still!!!" It's your funeral if you don't dig it.
By Tony Rounce