Off The Beaten Track with Mary Leary: Music Reviews and Musings

By  | 

50 WAYS TO KILL ME: Gnarly Death Wish (Scene Destroyer)
VARIOUS ARTISTS: The Ultimate Rockin’ Halloween Party – American Horror Songs 1930s-1950s (Viper Records)
VARIOUS ARTISTS: EarGoggles (Bull Terrior Productions)
MARY LEARY: Pretty Scary Jack O’Lanterns (Bread & Lightning)

It’s here again...October is one of my favorite times of year: tons of fun, and truly spooky, as it heralds the dawning of the holiday season. But I’m going to ignore the boxes of turkey candles and Christmas decorations stacked above the Halloween stuff in my local Walgreens and take a

The title says it all

note from Ram Dass, opting to “be here now.” I’d like to enjoy the crisp autumn air (such as it may be in San Diego)and some rock ‘n’ roll fun, along with reviewing an item or two that may be questionably “fun.” Just becuz, just for scuzz…

I was recently stoked to discover that we now have at least audio of Edith Massey as part of her booze-soaked strut to, as she liked to say, “Hollywood” stardom. I once shared a bottle with Edith outside The Atlantis Club in Washington, D.C. Itwas very classy: as I remember, we were sort of crouched against the building in a cloud of grit and fog. “The Egg Lady” was as good a drinking companion as any. As far as punks getting off the grass, I don’t know if her command got the desired respect.

Long Islander and multi-instrumentalist Jay Decay is one (kinda speed metal) punk who may knowa tidbit or two about grass. As 50 Ways to Kill Me, he persists in churning out the loudest sounds he can by himself (more or less, there are a couple of guest vocalists and lead guitarists) on — you might want to find a seat for this — 50 songs detailing methods for self-offification.

Gnarly Death Wish

Highlights of Gnarly Death Wish include the hip-hoppy “Hit My Head with a Hammer,” “Dynamite for Birthday Candles,” “Headbang Till Head Snaps,” and “Detonation Device Up My Butt.” People who know more about Jay, and these references, say he reminds them of Adrenalin OD and early Guttermouth. You can listen for yourself on Jay’s Myspace (link at the end of this masterpiece) or, if you can tell me what rocker died of an overdose after threatening suicide for years, I’ll just send you my copy (trick!).

If the thought of Gnarly Death Wish hasn’t sent you away in search of a noose, I’m glad you’re around for some good news: Those Liverpudlian Elves at Viper Records have crafted a 20-track compilation, The Ultimate Rockin’ Halloween Party: American Horror Songs 1930s-1950s, which has beaucoup treats (about 1/3 of which are also on Monster Rock ‘n’ Roll). Even the most rabid downloader and mixer is unlikely to amass a collage that unearths “Igor’s Party” by Tony’s Monstrosities (who would even think to look for that?) and rarities like Buster Doss and His Arkansas Playboys loping through the Western swing of “Graveyard Boogie ” (1948), The Five Jones Boys‘ “Mr. Ghost Goes To Town” (1937), The Deep River Boys‘ “Swingin’ at the Seance” (1940), and a doo-woppy rocker from 1957, “Screamin’ Ball (at Dracula Hall)” by The Duponts (1958). I don’t have time for the research that could pinpoint the rarity of that last one, but it cooks – with a couple of candy-corn-flavored shivers.

Plenty of these make me laugh, shake my hips, and/or cry, “Yowsa,” like the track that turned into one of my Cramps favorites, “Rock N Bones” (by a passel of hillbillies named Elroy Dietzel and the Rhythm Bandits, 1957 – Ronnie Dawson’s version also kicks). Kip Tyler reveals where contemporary scarecrows like Dax Riggs and Dan Sartain copped some of their mojo with the hot-blooded “She’s My Witch.” Here’s a crackin’ version from the resurrected Dazzlers (the footage was clearly tacked-on but it’s grreat…)

Down-n-dirty R&B is the backdrop for Archie King‘s “He’s a Vampire,” which has to be one of the funniest — “This guy’s on a rampage now” and something that sounds like, “And, oh, he got my mother-in-law,” are interspersed with “scary” laughter – sounds like King’s making some of it up as he goes along….

I’m still not over the passing of Lux Interior in ’09 – I’m still not over the deaths of Nick Cave and Bryan Gregory! In any case, before we end with two last treats, I’m carrying on the tradition of Cramps Halloween appearances with one of my favorites (as usual, I had a great time checking out a bunch of live footage and, once again, reached the usual conclusion – some are just too x-rated for this venue; the other goods ones are too lo-fi/vi). Deciding factors: This one features the amazing Bryan Gregory, & Ivy’s as cool as ever in it…

Footage of an early Cramps (circa Gregory) drop into Napa State Mental Hospital is so hair-raising, it must be seen to be believed. I’ve had it on VHS for lo these many moons. A few years ago it resurfaced on DVD. I’ll just say it’s not for anyone with a need for strict boundaries… at all. And it’s a testament to the Cramps’ love of performing, as well as its acceptance of mayhem.

My review of EarGoggles should be live soon on Daggerzine (address at the bottom of this novel). It’s one heckuva treat: Clayton Holmes, a former film student in Vancouver, periodically compiles DVDs packed with performances from soon-to-be-defunct-but-apparently-morphing-into-The-Hellhole-dive The Cobalt, which is a little slice of heaven for fans of punk, post-punk, garage, and speed/death metal. It does a rocker’s heart good to see that pit-diving and other shenanigans are customary in Vancouver – it’s enough to make you think all red-blooded rawkers should just move there. Basically Holmes has done what we fanziners from b.i.t.d. could only dream about: He makes a ‘zine of live footage, digitalized graphic jokes and comments, film shorts, creative ads for cool businesses, and more. And EarGoggles is FREE. Happy Halloween!

A couple of years ago I revised a poetry chapbook, Pretty Scary Jack O’Lanterns. I’ve been too preoccupied with things like this column to do much shilling around it. If you go to the Bread and Lightning site and click on “The Breadbox” (link’s below) you can procure one – sorry I can’t afford to give ’em away, but if your costume’s really cool I’ll find something fun – a music promo or other piece of printed media; some cool postcards — to throw in your bottomless treat bag. Here’s a sample:

Drama Queen

Pretty Scary Jack O'Lanterns

By the eighth day

of the Santa Ana
this desert
is burning itself out faster
than River Phoenix.

My oldest lover
wears a new
face, plays hide
and seek behind gray clouds
as I stumble
from fluorescence into
cool blackness,
a crow’s wing

I feel thunder, am
startled; scramble out of
the bathtub. The cats fly

in without any coaxing.
Air crackles; a giant leaf
as a red tin skeleton
clangs against
the door laughing.

Jay Decay:
Viper Records:
Cramps at Napa State:
Pretty Scary Jack O’ Lanterns: (click on “Breadbox”)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *