New Wave Halloween
Yes, indeed, the ’80s were truly a scary time. You had blood-sucking, ageless vampires (Ronald Reagan), furry-browed Frankensteins (Ted Danson), enticing vampiresses that would seduce and then kill (credit card), werewolves who lurked under a full moon and then howled senseless words while chasing unsuspecting victims (College Republicans), and ghoulish ghosts who haunted guilty souls (evangelists).
But at least there was the music… whoa, who am I kidding here? All this retro crap is driving me nuts, though at least we’re starting to dip into other decades for other musical forms (swing, lounge, bluegrass, ancient country, etc.). That won’t stop Rhino, which is issuing its 19th — but seemingly its 666th — New Wave/Just Can’t Enough volume just in time for Halloween. It’s also the fourth “concept” New Wave compilation, following in the footsteps of New Wave Dance Hits, New Wave Women, and New Wave Xmas.
But thankfully, this one has some teeth, if you’ll pardon the expression, with the inclusion of classics that are more in the punk than New Wave vein (and let’s not even begin that debate). So instead of A Flock of Seagulls, you get Sonic Youth and the Dead Kennedys performing their respective versions of songs entitled “Halloween,” with Mudhoney covering the Sonic Youth tune. (There are six songs called “Halloween,” with the others done by Siouxsie & the Banshees, the Dream Syndicate, and the Misfits). And of course there’s Oingo Boingo’s classic (though much-overused), “Dead Man’s Party,” and of course there’s “The Time Warp” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack. And “Devil in My Car” by the B-52’s. And there’s even a dated Ministry doing “Everyday is Halloween.” And oh yes, there’s the Ramones’ sort-of classic title track to the very-scary movie (scary as in bad), Pet Sematary.
But no, no, no, NO! No “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”!?!?!?!!! That’s not scary; that’s damn frightening. It’s enough to make you shiver, but then, so did the ’80s, and as Joey Ramone pointed out, I don’t want to live my life again. Rhino Records, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025; http://www.rhino.com