John Zacherle

Spook Along With Zacherley

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This album is as unique a piece of Americana as likely exists on compact disc. Zacherley's fame grew in the late '50s and '60s as the king of low-budget late-night horror movies on WCAU-TV in Philadelphia and then WABC-TV in New York City. Among his best-loved television programs are Zacherley at Large, Shock Theater, and perhaps his most notable, Chiller Theater. In 1960, almost two years after moving to the Big Apple, the distinctly N.Y.C.-based Elektra Records label issued Spook Along With Zacherley. This was his first long-player, although Cameo Records had issued the 45 rpm "Dinner With Drac" -- featuring instrumentation by Dave Appell and the Applejacks. The timeless appeal of the Zacherley character informs these somewhat silly compositions -- which are often recited more than sung, or at the very least have spoken introductions. The noir vaudevillian showmanship that endeared him to so many is evident throughout Zacherley's sinister plays on words. The opening tracks, "Coolest Little Monster" and "A Wicked Thought," make tremendous use of the verbal double play. Zacherley's opening lines say it best: "You're horrid, you're ghastly and I love you true/So here are some presents I'm sending to you...." Although the copious use of ersatz pre-British Invasion rock & roll rhythms indicates that Spook Along With Zacherley was certainly marketed for a preteen audience, there is an ageless charm to the track "Zacherley for President" -- which made use of a book and poster set enclosed in the original packaging. In the fervor of the 1960 national and regional elections, the Ted Bates advertising agency came up with a similar type of faux election platform for Zacherley. Unfortunately, the 2001 CD reissue from Collectors' Choice does not include replicas of these extras. It does, however, include an essay from Chiller Theater's Kevin Clement. This is a great collection for all ages of nostalgia buffs, as well as something for your Halloween listening.

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