Thursday, October 29, 2009

Suggested Listening: The Misfits â?? Walk Among Us

Posted on Thu, Oct 29, 2009 at 12:58 PM

Everyone, meet lala, if you haven't already. Sign up is free, and you can listen to any of their vast collection of albums once. I thought we'd use lala as a way to share and discuss some of our favorite albums, and since it's nearly Halloween, what better way to start than with the Misfits? Actually, I really wanted to start with Nick Cave's incredible and creepy Murder Ballads, but lala doesn't have it. Instead, we're going with Walk Among Us, technically the Misfits full-length debut, though they recorded a couple of other albums that would be released later first. For introduction purposes, it might be more appropriate to post Collection 2 because it includes their two essential "Halloween" songs and more songs from throughout their early, real career (they continue to tour without lead singer Glenn Danzig) but I like the songs on this album better. Also, if you're new to the Misfits, and not a pouty-faced teenager, 20 songs of their blend of proto-speed-metal and comic-book gore is probably a little much for one sitting.

But don't let the fear of turning into a goth kid stop you from checking out how insectoid nightmare "20 Eyes" plays like Kafka's Metamorphosis on an amphetamine rush. "I Turned Into a Martian" is a less successful exploration of the alienation themes from "Teenagers From Mars" (found on their first Collection), but the (pretty obvious) metaphor doesn't matter as much as the anger in Danzig's voice. "Hatebreeders," on the other hand ponders the handed-down legacy of intolerance over a beat encouraging you to jump around punching strangers in the face.

"Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?" isn't so much creepy as it is an indicator that no matter how unhinged they sounded in the studio, the Misfits must've been a lot rougher live. "Night of the Living Dead," "Skulls," and "Astro Zombies" are great examples of the Misfits' most memorable trick â?? disguising death and dismemberment in a catchy golden-age rock 'n' roll beat. Somehow the Buddy Holly through a blown speaker bounce of "Zombies" softens the blow of Danzig's vow to "exterminate the whole human race." You've got the Misfits, to blame for a million shitty psychobilly bands, but it's amazing to me how well the originals still hold up.

It's also interesting to note that despite the Misfits reputation for violent and Satanic lyrics (other songs on other albums, JFK attack "Bullet" for example, are more gruesome) only two songs â?? "Mommy," with its oedipal strangeness, and "Skulls," from the point of view of a murderer collecting children's heads â?? feature violence that's anything but cartoonishly exaggerated. Decide for yourself below though, and let me know what other albums you'd like to talk about.



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