Written by Liz Buckley

Arts

7 Wonders: Halloween Tunes

Liz Buckley’s back in charge of the 7 Wonders playlist and she’s gone all spooky.

Photo: Epic.

Photo: Epic.

Michael Jackson – Thriller

Part of the absolute horror of Halloween is that no playlist would be complete without Michael Jackson. Awful news. Back in 1983, we all thought Michael was just play-acting at being terrifying of course; but fair play to him, he really became a man to worry about.

After its MTV premiere, the creepy 13-minute film made to go alongside the track (spooky credentials: directed by John Landis and featuring Vincent Price) became the most influential pop video of all time, making award-winning, million-selling, precedent-setting history. In fact, far more so than Jackson’s own ego-driven History album, despite him making his own statue to go alongside.

We shouldn’t underestimate Thriller‘s cultural importance, although perhaps the scariest thing about his legacy is that, to this day, his Twitter account is verified… so it’s still definitely him. SPOOKY!

Photo: Garpax, London.

Photo: Garpax, London.

Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers – Monster Mash

Arguably THE quintessential horror record of all time – I’d certainly arm-wrestle you if you claimed otherwise. Not bad for a bunch of guys who really wanted to be actors and who only had one music industry connection in producer Gary Paxton.

The band got together as the unlikely (and distinctly unspookily named) Cordials before realising having a go at a novelty record would be far more fun after impressions of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi caused hysteria in the studio. Complete with intro gargles made by blowing bubbles in water, bike chains cracked on the floor and nails pulled out of doors for coffin noises, I can only hope they didn’t destroy the studio in the process of making the record. It would be pretty scary if the roof caved in.

The vocal delivery for this track will always make me laugh as it’s so polite/faux posh – “What kind of mash would you desire? The monster mash if you would be so kind.”

Anyone who ever makes mustard mash and doesn’t also sing along to the tune of the Monster Mash is – quite appropriately – dead to me.

Echo and the Bunnymen – People Are Strange

Echo and the Bunnymen’s cover of The Doors’ People Are Strange is even spookier than the original because of its connection with teen vampire movie The Lost Boys; the film of course, which first made Kiefer ‘24’ Sutherland a torture fanatic. Perhaps. Having said that, Jim Morrison is actually dead so maybe that’s a top trump.

Photo: Cameo.

Photo: Cameo.

John Zacherle – Dinner with Drac Part 1

“The waitress / a vampire named Perkins / was so very fond of small gherkins / whilst she served the tea she ate 43 / which pickled her internal workin’s… HAHAHA!”

Part song, part B-movie-style spoken word story, part ridiculous limerick, this track is among the greatest type of spooky tunes. John Zacherle was an American horror TV presenter best known for hosting creepy movie nights in the 50s and 60s and for his highly successful novelty horror records.

Born back in 1918, he is STILL ALIVE and still laughing like a nutter. I’m fairly sure he’ll outlive us all: after the apocalypse, all that’s left will be him, the cockroaches and Courtney Love.

(Footnote: His song Coolest Little Monster was something I sang to my black cat Monster, many, many times for which I thank him. She does not.)

The Fiends – Theme from The Addams Family

Here’s a fun fact! Sonny Bono produced this version of one of horror’s most recognisable themes in 1964, using studio musicians masquerading anonymously as The Fiends. At the time, Sonny and his girlfriend – you may have heard of her – Cher, were struggling to get by as they were financially reliant on Phil Spector. Brrrr. *holds torch up to face*

Cher, of course, went on to do many frightening things after this, including sitting on a cannon wearing only a leather mankini.

The Addams Family photo: ABC.

The Addams Family photo: ABC.

Warren Zevon – Werewolves of London

Produced by Jackson Browne, featuring Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, this is basically a horror supergroup. It’s silly, it’s witty, it’s contagious and its howl refrain is more of a cute puppy yodel than a blood-curdling yowl. It’s almost nursery-rhyme-like in its simplicity. Everyone! A-hooooo!

Photo: 101 Distribution.

Photo: 101 Distribution.

Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler – Zombie Christmas

When writing a song to be played at certain times of the year, double up I say: quite right, Tim Wheeler & Emmy The Great. Zombie Christmas very much has a large block of time wrapped up in a way that Disco 2000 WISHES it had thought of. Not many people seem to know that their album This Is Christmas exists. So maybe it doesn’t. CREEPY!!!

If you need help DJ-ing for your Halloween, here’s a handy guide of appropriate records from Ace Records to help it go with a scream: http://acerecords.co.uk/features/music-guides/halloween-gift-guide

@liz_buckley

 

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Written by Liz Buckley

Department manager at an independent record company. Liker of Frank Sinatra and Nick Cave. Very sudden laugh. Pasty but tasty. Quite tired.