Sunday, October 27, 2013

Make Mondo Zombie Boogaloo this Halloween's soundtrack

I've purchased or received a few Halloween-themed compilations over the years, and have made my own mix tapes for the same purpose, but it would be hard to find a better one than Yep Roc Records' Mondo Zombie Boogaloo.

Three of the best live bands around -- Los Straitjackets, The Fleshtones and Southern Culture on the Skids -- have joined forces on this 15-track album that came out on Oct. 1. Los Straitjackets and SCOTS contribute five songs each, The Fleshtones chip in four, and the three groups collaborate on a Spanish version of "The Monster Mash" titled "Que Monstruos Son."

The lucha libre mask-wearing Los Straitjackets weave more of their intricate guitar magic through their primarily instrumental offerings, beginning with the vintage-sounding "It's Monster Surfing Time." The band presents "Theme From Halloween" and the slower "Theme From Young Frankenstein." "Ghoul On A Hill" isn't a variation of The Beatles' "Fool On The Hill," but "Ghostbusters" is a playful interpretation of the title track hit from the popular '80s movie.

The Fleshtones strike it rich early with "Ghoulman Confidential," and I have a feeling that the band's gentrifying hometown of Brooklyn may have been the inspiration for "Haunted Hipster." "(Sock It To Me Baby) in the House of Shock" packs a lot of fun into less than two minutes with a great mix of keyboards and guitar, and "Dracula A Go Go" is what you'd expect to find in the classic Fleshtones songbook.

It's been more than nine years since I've had an opportunity to see SCOTS, and the material here gives me even more reason to witness it again. The group covers The Cramps' "Goo Goo Muck" and, while Mary Huff's vocals are a little less threatening than the late Lux Interior's, there's still some solid howling going on. Cramps fans may also be interested in knowing that Steve Blickenstaff, the man who drew the cover art for that band's 1984 Bad Music for Bad People, is also responsible for the graphics on Mondo Zombie Boogaloo.

SCOTS mixes acoustic and electric guitars on "The Loneliest Ghost In Town," gets appropriately bluesy on "Tingler Blues," throws in its own instrumental number in "La Marcha De Los Cabarones" and ends the album with "Demon Death."

These three groups are touring together in support of Mondo Zombie Boogaloo, and I've heard great reports from those lucky enough to catch them since the triple bill unfortunately didn't make it to Toronto. They're on the road in the eastern United States until Nov. 2, so there's still time if you're in the vicinity.

Whether you have the chance to see these songs performed live or just get to hear them coming from your living room stereo while joined by costumed friends later this week, I perceive no way in which you won't enjoy yourself.

Mondo Zombie Boogaloo is available on compact disc, digitally and as a double long-player on coloured vinyl.

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