New Wave Halloween

Finally a novelty record that does a bit of justice to bands that should be household words, especially for Satan-day. There’s “Time Warp” from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the theme from the John Carpenter film Halloween, and the theme from The Munsters. The Rocky Horror thing is straight from the soundtrack; MX-80 does a minimalist and hard-to-stand version of the Halloween theme, and it sounds like the Comateens recorded The Munsters theme on one of those little Casio keyboards. Cute, yes — necessary? Actually, yes, as it would make for good background music during a Halloween radio show. The huge names appearing are Ministry (“Every Day is Halloween”), the B-52’s (“Devil In My Car,” good choice), Oingo-Boingo (“Dead Man’s Party”), and the Ramones (“Pet Sematary”). I suppose that the variety more than compensates for the unfortunate “New Wave” in the title, but this collection, other than the “fun” tunes already mentions, is more haunting than entertaining. I fear that playing this at a Halloween party, unless attended by “cool” people, would drive the squares away. Namely because after Dave Edmunds’ “The Creature From the Black Lagoon” there’s six songs called “Halloween.”

Rhino’s included “Halloween” by Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Dream Syndicate, Sonic Youth (brrr!), Dead Kennedys, The Misfits (I’m impressed that someone at Rhino thought to include them, wow), and Mudhoney. That’s a tough lineup to stomach if your guests aren’t strapped down to their seats. Then again, the mix is just right: there’s wobbly-organ new wave, dancey pop, sing alongs, and some great punk rock with a touch of hardcore. The final selection of Roky Erickson’s “Creature with the Atom Brain” is inspired and is probably the best song, overall, on the album. On the face of things, it’s just a fun psychedelic fuzz pop song, on the inside, though, it’s so catchy it’ll hook a lot of squares and teens into Roky Erikson, whom they’ll go seek out (along with all the other bands they’ve never heard of on this album). Nicely done! Rhino Records, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025; http://www.rhino.com

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