Monday, October 31, 2011

Monster Mash

Long ago, in a little town in Upstate New York, there lived a young girl who liked to listen to the radio...

It's Halloween here at B3 and instead of serving up some yummy, pumpkin-caramel roll-up Scooby snack, or a super, scary story of a man with a golden arm, I'm offering up music treats that can't be beat.

When I was growing up, Chez 106 FM, a radio station out of Ottawa, would run the "Dr. Demento" radio show on Tuesday nights. If you're not familiar with the show, I think the name alone tells you what kind of music he played, here's the link if you want to check out the current program.

For Halloween, Dr. Demento would roll out a list of some of the top Halloween songs of all time, some novelty and some legitimate radio hits. Let's just say this list never included the *prosaic* Michael Jackson classic, "Thriller".

One fave that always made the list was, "Werewolves of London", by late Warren Zevon. There is a "real" video for this song, but due to haunting copyright issues, we'll have to settle for a live version. That this recording takes place in Jersey is scary enough.

 Another fave that Demento ALWAYS played was the 50s classic by Screamin' Jay Hawkins, "I Put A Spell On You". I've heard that Hawkins is rumored to have fathered 70+ children, which, if you take a look at this guy, is really quite scary. David Sanborn is rockin' the awesome sax in the video below, and if you're quick, you'll notice that Hawkins' skull "wand" is smoking a cigarette (don't try that at home, kiddos). I'm not sure where the bone in the nose, and the speaking in tongues comes from - the man was born in Cleveland after all...

The next is a classic novelty fave of Demento's, and mine, the David Seville tune, "Witch Doctor". Yes, astute music fans, the Alvin & the Chipmunks guy. It's amazing what simply speeding up a recording track will do for a career! I actually own this fabulous '45 record, and would play it to distraction when I was a kid. Is it any surprise I'm an only child? All I know is, "Ooh, eee, ooh, aah aah, ting tang, walla walla, bing bang." Yeah, just try and get that outta yer head now!

Sheb Wooley's "Purple People Eater" is just fun, fun, fun. The alliterative "one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater", is delightful, and lord knows, I LURVE alliteration (eyes squinched, shoulders raised, with fists balled-in-joy, kinda love). On the other hand, I believe this is a tune that will corrode your mind if you hear it too many times. That the PPE wants to join a rock 'n roll band, just adds a cherry on top of the frothiness of this little tune.

 "Back to back, and belly to belly, well, I don't give a damn, 'cuz I'm stone dead already!" I think most folks, of my generation, know this tune as done by Rockapella (the group that did the "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego" theme). However, like all good things, the original was done by someone else; in this case the always original, Harry Belafonte. This zombie, voodoo fiend-fest of a video freaks me out. Period. I can't believe they actually played this on TV.

My final choice for today's collection of Halloween Beats, is a pure gem of a song, the acapella, "Mr. Ghost Goes to Town", by The 5 Jones Boys. I looked into what little history there is on this song, and it looks like the tune was originally released in 1936. The Jones boys would go on to appear in 3 movies and released only 2 records - one of them being "Mr. Ghost..." More info available here. I wish the acapella songs on the "Sing-Off", were half as delightful as this one.

Happy Hallowe'en, dear reader. Instead of trick-or-treating, I think, "Tonight I'm gonna shake my bones to the tune of them hot saxophones"! Enjoy!


  1. I saw Screamin' Jay live one night in Youngstown, Ohio in a small club on the south side of town. He was a solo act with a limited repetoire.

  2. I just saw your comment on LMM about your sons struggle to communicate. My son is 2 and just started speech therapy. I have written a couple posts about his progress. He is now signing open and help and I feel like it was such a huge step in the right direction. It's nice to know that I am not alone and that there are other families out there going through the same thing.