Before I bring you Part Deux of Swinging Mademoiselle, I'm going to briefly interrupt with my Halloween special, to ensure these tasty, eerie delights reach your goodie bags in time. We certainly can't miss Halloween! After all, Spiked Candy owes its name to those scary tales of unsuspecting trick-or-treaters receiving a dose of deadly poison in their sweet treats. Apparently these are nothing more than tales: "The number of kids confirmed to have been critically injured by spiked Halloween candy is ... zero" (The Halloween Scare). So while thankfully the grisly act of spiking candy is only a myth, fear not: Spiked Candy, the blog, is very real. Don't believe me? Blast these spook-themed tunes until your ears tingle, just to be sure. Ladies first:
Once again a huge thank you to Carl for sending this one my way! 'Mon joli vampire' is the B-side to 'Herald Tribune', posted here. This seems to be it for all the Jany L. songs ever released, so now you have the complete ultra-rare set! It's in a similar vein to her other tracks, with her rather sensuous voice offset by sweet, tinkly instrumentation. Listen to that catchy toy piano riff that owes more than a little to the Velvet Underground's 'Sunday Morning'.
Also in the waaay-too-cute-to-be-at-all-scary category:
Portuguese-born Wanda Ribeiro de Vasconcelos is better known as 80s Belgian pop sweetheart Lio. 'Bébé Vampire' appeared on Lio's 1980 debut album, released in 1980, and like most of the songs on that album, was created by celebrated Belgian songwriter Jacques Duvall. Duvall was also wrote her infamous, 2-million-selling 'Banana Split', which she says, like France Gall with 'Les Sucettes' before her, she was too innocent to understand the double entendre behind.
I'm not sure I understand what is going on in this song - perhaps someone reading can fill us in. Here are the lyrics (and the auto-translation). The first two verses seem to say the Baby Vampire is sipping a Grenadine and reading a comic, turning the pages with her wet fingers, "putting red on Asterix' lips". The last verse is odd - "Baby vampire has seen you and gets in position/And before taking your life/Look in the mouth of this little girl/her braces all pink." Is there a creepy undertone here - is this meant to be the tale of a young seductress? Perhaps, but whatever the case, Lio sings it straight-out cute, and it comes off only as a fizzy synthpop confection.
Now ready for some tougher, more rockin' chicks? Freak out with the Priscillas with their groovy, op-art-tastic video for their 2005 single, 'All My Friends Are Zombies':
Formed in London in 2004, this fab femme foursome are made up of the brilliantly-named: Jenny Drag (vocals), Guri Go-Go (guitar), Kate Kannibal (bass), Hege Hotpants (drums - who replaced original drummer Mavis Minx, who played on 'Zombies'). Former label Damaged Goods described them as "The Shangri-La's crossed with the pounding beat of The Sweet played by 4 girls with the biggest hair in town". And even though the NME are usually full of shit, for once they got it right: "A bag full of attitude so big you'd have trouble getting it on as hand luggage, The Priscillas are staking their claim as London's foremost queens of rock 'n' roll".
If the name Zombina and the Skeletones isn't enough of a clue that this band is dedicated to the horror rock genre, perhaps the fact they have a release out just for Halloween is. You can grab their free, freshly unleashed Halloween EP via their forum
here. (A version with artwork should show up on the Zombina Army Myspace page soon). (Update: Now available on Archive.org). Standouts for me are 'Dracula's Tango' and their supercute, infectiously fun version of 'Monster Mash'.
Hailing from Liverpool, Zombina & the Skeletones have been cranking out gory tunes since 1998. All their music is produced and released independently by the band themselves, and they do a damn fine job of it! They're no slackers in the creative moniker department, either: the current line-up is Zombina Venus Hatchett, Doc Horror, Jonny Tokyo, Jettison Dervish, and Ben Dur.
More free songs can be found at Sound Click (free registration - worth the effort as you'll have access to Zombina songs and lots more good stuff on there). Among the tracks you'll find there are several from last year's concept album, Death Valley High, described at What You Need:
The album initially takes us on a ride through a typical B-movie romance: bad boy meets lonely, geeky girl, professes his love for her, then cheats on her at the school prom. Where the album differs, is in that it fails to end with the boy coming to his senses and making the innocent girl happy. Instead, the innocent girl cracks, cuts the new girl's head off at the prom, is placed in a mental asylum, escapes, gets her hands on a dissolvo ray and brings about the end of the world.
This 1959 track by The Emersons appeared on a 1989 comp called I Was a Teenage Brain Surgeon, which you can grab in full from TwighlightZone. Lots of amazing examples of the plethora of horror-themed garage obscura recorded in the 50s-60s.
Gainsbourg was likely more interested in what Robert Louis Stevenson's split-personality character represented about the human psyche than in the schlock-horror Jekyll & Hyde had come to represent. The Emersons' track is an example of the latter; note how in their song, Jekyll & Hyde are among assorted horror figures out to "terrorise". Whereas Gainsbourg's 1968 classic, features pointed lines like "Dr Jekyll always had in him a Mr Hyde, who was an evil genius". Nonetheless, Gainsbourg also had a fascination with popular iconography and tapping into what made the youth of the time tick. The title song of Bonnie & Clyde, the album 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' is from, is a prime example of this. The go-go rock flavour in songs like 'Dr Jekyll' (intended to dance the jerk to, if I'm not mistaken) is further evidence of a loving interest in contemporary youth culture - perhaps wryly executed, but never presented as just flat-out mockery.
Watch a 1968 TV performance of the song:
Two examples of what we'll call the scream-instrumental genre... instrumentals with ghoulish background screams! Minesottan Evans Carroll's 'The Monster' is the type of rockabilly jam you might traditionally associate with Halloween music. The majority of the vocals belong to a relentlessly roaring monster, who sounds far more kitsch than killer. The track appeared on a German release called Horror Hop. Les Maledictus Sound's 'The Monster Cocktail' is a weirder and wilder creature, a psych-rock wall-of-sound consisting of distorted guitars, malevolent vocal snippets, rhythmic tambourine, thunderstorm sound effects, and intermittent sprinklings of the famously spooky pipe organ intro to Bach's 'Toccata and Fugue in D Minor'.
Les Maledictus Sound was a studio-only project by France's Jean-Pierre Massiera, one-time guitarist for Claude François and later considered the godfather of French prog. After recording just one album for the project, Massiera moved to Quebec. The album was originally released on Quebecois hitmaker Tony Roman's label Canusa and reissued in 1999 by Mucho Gusto Records, another Canadian label. Confusingly, it's sometimes referred to as Attention and sometimes the self-titled Les Maledictus Sound. Whatever it's called, the album, an insanely eclectic mix of psychedelia, exotica, jazzy grooves, experimental electronics and more, is well worth getting your hands on.
And don't forget some of the Swinging Mademoiselle songs are perfect for your Halloween mixtapes. The songs again:
The full title of Stella's song is 'Si vous connaissez quelque chose de pire qu'un vampire, parlez m'en toujours, ça pourra peut-etre me faire sourire' ('If you know of something worse than a vampire, tell me, it will make me smile'). Phew! It was covered by Stereo Total in 1999 as 'Film d'horreur'.
Finally, if you haven't before grabbed the rare, early 70s France Gall song Frankenstein, written by Serge Gainsbourg, I still have it up - get it
Watch a 1974 TV performance of it below, where Jacques Dutronc plays an unconvincing and odd-looking Frankenstein:
Have a horror-ble Halloween!