Halloween music - Scary monsters and super creeps
Halloween has, traditionally, been haunted by records about ghosts, ghouls, and graves. Robert Webb digs up the best
Friday 29 October 2010
For Halloween, supermarkets are bathed in the glow of oversized pumpkins and stacks of ghoulish merchandise fills the shelves.
But where are the Halloween songs? Back in the Fifties and early Sixties, rock'n'roll's cauldron positively bubbled over with songs about vampires, monsters and such like. Where are they now? Here are some of the best from ghostly days gone by.
Halloween Parade - Lou Reed (1988)
A tale of the dark corners of NYC, "where the docks and the badlands meet". It's 31 October and Reed is mourning the friends he has lost to AIDS, recalling how the illness hung like a spectre over the city.
Find it on "New York"
Halloween - The Dead Kennedys (1982)
A Sex Pistols-style thrash about a goth haunted by the previous night.
Find it on "Plastic Surgery Disasters"
Halloween - Kirsty MacColl (1991)
An upbeat tale of knocking at the door and spirits having flown, penned by MacColl and Mark Nevin.
Find it on "Electric Landlady"
Frankenstein - Edgar Winter Group (1973)
Named by the band's drummer, after it was pieced together from scraps of tape.
Find it on "They Only Come Out at Night"
This Is Halloween - Marilyn Manson (2006)
When Tim Burton's 1993 animated musical, "The Nightmare Before Christmas", about the adventures of the Pumpkin King in Halloween Town, was re-released in 3D in 2006, the theme was sung by Marilyn Manson.
Find it on "The Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack"
Thriller - Michael Jackson (1982)
Virtually Jacko's signature song, famous as much for its ground-breaking, and very expensive, "zombie" video as it is for being among the best-selling singles of all time.
Find it on "Thriller"
Tam Lin - Fairport Convention (1969)
This version of the sinister Borders ballad, first published in the 18th century, became a folk-rock standard. Sandy Denny, the band's singer, later cut the delicate and far less frightening "After Halloween".
Find them on Sandy Denny's "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?"
Halloween - Siouxsie and the Banshees (1981)
A swirling, gothic tale of murder in the nursery, committed to the spine-chilling chant of "trick or treat". It's from the Banshees' fourth album, "Juju", hailed as a graveyard masterpiece, and reissued on CD this year.
Find it on "Juju"
There's a Ghost in My House - R Dean Taylor (1967)
His big hit. His lover is gone and, sitting in his easy chair, he feels her fingers running through his hair. When he looks into his coffee mug, her face is gazing up. It is also covered with spine-tingling aplomb by The Fall.
Find it on "R Dean Taylor: The Essential Collection"
Halloweenhead - Ryan Adams (2007)
The most musical – if, in this song, paranoid – member of the Adams family wanders downtown, under ladders and past black cats, with a "head full of tricks or treats".
Find it on "Easy Tiger"
Monster Mash - Bobby 'Boris' Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers (1962)
One of the best-selling novelty singles of all time. It's the "White Christmas" of Halloween.This irrepressible hit about monsters rising from the slab has shifted millions of copies.
Find it on "The Original Monster Mash"
Halloween - Sonic Youth (1985)
New York no-wavers Sonic Youth turn pumpkin-carving and apple-bobbing into something more "Halloween: The Movie", than your average children's party. It's a hair-raising delight, part Velvet Underground, part Can.
Find it on "Bad Moon Rising"
The Witch's Promise - Jethro Tull (1969)
A jolly caper in the woods involving a nocturnal kiss from a witch amongst the red, yellow and brown leaves. An unlikely hit single.
Find it on "Living in the Past"
Trick or Treat - Otis Redding (1966)
This overlooked soul belter finds Otis in testing mood. "If you say you love me, don't say you like me," he tells his girl. "I can't wait for Halloween to find out/ If it's trick or treat."
Find it on "Dreams to Remember: The Otis Redding Anthology"
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