Halloween Horror


by Tony Maygarden

Paul Clayton Murder Ballads LP cover

Murder Ballads, Paul Clayton

Clayton sings eighteen traditional folk murder ballads in an unemotional, even voice, accompanying himself with a simple acoustic guitar. The relaxed, detached delivery belies the stabbings, drownings, beheadings and other gruesome murders described in the songs. Included are some well known ballads such as "Delia" and "Omie Wise," and interesting versions of "Stackolee" (very similar lyrically to Lloyd Price's Top 40 version, "Staggerlee"),"John Hollin" (sung by Leadbelly and others as "John Hardy") and "Tom Dula" (a Top 40 hit by the Kingston Trio as "Tom Dooley").


Dean Gitter Ghost Ballads LP cover

Ghost Ballads, Dean Gitter

Like Paul Clayton's Murder Ballads, this is a collection of traditional (or newer songs that sound traditional) folk songs performed by a solo singer accompanying himself on guitar. Gitter's singing is much more animated, however (the liners say his screech at the end of "Skin and Bones" wrecked the studio microphone). The lively "Finnegan's Wake" is a highlight. Cover art fans should note that the haunted house cover is by Charles Addams. The album was recorded in 1957.


Introducing Frankie Stein  LP cover

Introducing Frankie Stein and his Ghouls, Frankie Stein and his Ghouls

The concept for Frankie Stein and the Ghouls was to play '60s style instrumental dance rock with screams and other bizarre sound effects mixed in, and then to give the songs corny "horror" titles. This is the first in the series. Song titles: "Kiss of Death," "Goon River," "A Hearse is Not a Home," "Three Little Weirds," "Lullaby of Ghostland," "Knives & Lovers," "Little Ghoul Blue," "Ghoul Days," "Little Brown Bug," "The Neck Twist." The last one is actually pretty clever.


Frankie Stein Shock Terror Fear LP cover

Shock! Terror! Fear!, Frankie Stein and his Ghouls

The albums were promoted as dance/party albums. Starting with this one, each song had a subtitle telling you what type of dance it was suitable for. Dances include watusi, swim, twist, fox trot, hully gully, monkey, lindy and frug. Titles for this one: "Who's Afraid of Weerdo Wolf," "Bodies Under the Bridge," "Slay Boy" (nice fuzz lead guitar), "Horror Staccato," "Ankle Twist," "Doom at Midnight," "Stoned," "Stoned Again," "The Ghost Man Rings Twice," Doomsday."


Frankie Stein Ghoul Music LP cover

Ghoul Music, Frankie Stein and his Ghouls

The band sounds like the instrumental rock bands of the late '50s/early '60s -- Sandy Nelson, Johnny and the Hurricanes, the Wailers. They're pretty good and the recordings are OK, but almost every song has a scream/shriek or a "horror" or weird sound effect. Titles: "What Kind of Ghoul Am I," "Mummy's Little Boy," "Good Noose" (another clever one!), "The Wrist Twist," "Shoot-a-nanny," "Elbow Twist," "Fly Me to the Goon," "Chained," "A Taste of Poison," "Monster Motion."


Frankie Stein Monster Melodies LP cover

Monster Melodies, Frankie Stein and his Ghouls

There's some tasty guitar parts on the three earlier LPs in the series, but on this one all the lead lines are carried by saxophone. The gimmick is starting to sound tired. There's one more in the series. They were released on the Power label. There are no credits on any of the albums. These titles are killing me (sorry): "Doctor Spook," "In a Groovy Grave," "Frog Frug," "Melancholy Monster," "Haunted Mouse," "Ghoulish Heart," "Dressed to Kill," "All Choked Up," "Swingin' Head," "Ain't Got No Body."