Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Misfits

The Misfits were one of my favorite bands for a long time. Basically, they were a punk rock Kiss, in that they combined simple, catchy songs with comic book imagery. They came out of New Jersey in the late 70s, fronted by the buff but diminutive Glenn Danzig. Most of their stuff was riffs on 50s horror movies, like "Return of the Fly." They were musically influenced by the 50s as well, which is the secret to their success. Beyond the makeup, devilocks, and goofy lyrics about eating brains were solid hooks and catchy as hell 'whoa whoa" choruses (to use an old Maximum Rock n Roll description). Take "I Turned into a Martian," which is about, um, turning into a martian. Danzig, with his Morrison-meets-Elvis voice, sings the hell out of it.

1982's Walk Among Us, was their first full-length to be released, and remains an essential album. It's the best sounding Misfits record, which doesn't mean much since most of their stuff sounds like it was recorded in a garbage can. They released one more album, the thrashy Earth A.D., which ditches their melodic punk sound for a more hardcore punk vibe. Earth A.D.
earned the Misfits some high-profile fans, including Metallica, who covered "Green Hell" on their Garage Days Revisited EP.

I like Earth A.D., but I still prefer their earlier, less hardcore stuff, especially the songs collected on the first Misfits collection, and on the Legacy of Brutality album (the cover of which is tattooed on Henry Rollins' arm). On these albums, Danzig's sick sense of humor really shines. On the catchy "Angelfuck" he croons, "Little Angelfuck, I see you going down on a fireplug," sounding like a lounge singer from hell. Their creepiest, most awesome song is "Bullet," about JFK's assassination:

Texas is an outrage when your husband is dead
Texas is an outrage when they pick up his head
Texas is the reason that the president's dead
Ya gotta suck, suck, Jackie, suck

And then it ends with the refrain "Masturbate me."

Um, ok Danzig. You little weirdo. Remember that interview you gave about fifteen years ago where you kept talking about the race war? How's that working out for you?

Danzig was clearly a controlling dickhead (he wrote all of the music), and the band split up in 83 when he decided he wanted to become a heavy metal god. He went on to form Samhain and then Danzig, as well as do some Wagnerian classical music. The rest of the boys all worked at video stores or whatever for a while before getting the rights to the name and touring and recording as the Misfits in the late 90s. I haven't messed with the later incarnation of the Misfits - the Misfits magical formula was only intended to work on a handful of songs, so dragging it out seems pointless. They did all they could do by 1983. The Misfits fiend has become ubiquitous on shoes, shirts, etc. Yea Hot Topic. At least they are getting paid, I guess.
Still, when I want to channel my inner 14-year-old, nothing works quite as well as belting along with the Misfits, cuz when I sin, I sin for sure. Whoa whoa whoa.

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