Various Artists

The Ultimate 50's and 60's Rockin' Horror Disc

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Is Ultimate 50's and 60's Rockin' Horror Disc really the ultimate '50s and '60s rockin' horror disc? No, considering it's missing well-known classics of the genre, like Bobby "Boris" Pickett's "Monster Mash," Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You," and Jumpin' Gene Simmons' "Haunted House." But for a compilation of obscure mid-'50s-to-mid-'60s songs that mixed rock & roll with horror novelty lyrics and sounds, it does a pretty good job. And these 20 items are indeed obscure -- LaVern Baker (with "Voodoo Voodoo") is the only famous artist, though avid rock & roll fans will recognize a few of the others, like Bunker Hill and Kip Tyler. As tunes go, they're usually nothing to shout about, often confining themselves to stock basic early rock & roll progressions and arrangements, though sometimes with the ominous minor-key patterns common to monster-movie soundtracks. It's the vocals, lyrics, and sound effects that are the chief sources of merriment, even if it's more dated, silly camp kitsch than imaginative satire, complete with Dracula impersonations, ghostly backup vocals, ghoulish giggles, and smoldering saxophones aplenty. Sometimes it gets over-the-top bizarre, with the boy and girl voices of Gary "Spider" Webb's "The Cave, Pt. 1" and "The Cave, Pt. 2" wandering around each other as they get lost in a batcave, throbbing bass, spooky guitar reverb, and jazzy hipster drums supplying the ambience. And there are a few numbers that are clearly in the mold of "Monster Mash," particularly Mann Drake's "Vampires Ball" and Lou Chaney's "Monster Holiday." Most of the time, though, it's rather wholesomely giddy romps through the lands of monsters, cemeteries, and ghosts, about as scary as a Halloween costume, but about as fun to put on. Although virtually everything here is indeed from the '50s and '60s (though it would have been nice if original release dates were included), it does include a solitary piece of '80s horror-rock revivalism, Lee Kristofferson's "Night of the Werewolf."

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