Today’s Halloween playlist is not entirely a beast of my own creation. In 2014, Rockbeat Records released the seasonally essential three-disc Halloween Nuggets: Monsters Sixties A Go-Go set. This set is a hodge podge of spooky tracks from the 50s and 60s, featuring surf tunes, novelty songs, rockabilly stuff, and, most importantly to me, garage punk. Some of the songs are 100% brimming with ghosts, witches, monsters and the like while others are only moderately so…songs about shadows or band names that allude to something macabre or scary. The set also contains a ton of vintage trailers (in audio format, of course), which round things out nicely. I’ve curated a playlist culled exclusively from my favorite tracks on this set. And it’s basically the fuzzed out garage songs, with some of the trailers in between for good measure. I’ve included a little info on some of the bands, and it’s mostly pulled from their respective entries on discogs.com. One caveat: some of the information on this stuff can be a little iffy, considering the releases were primarily on small local labels with very little documentation.
- The Mystrys- Witch Girl. This Australian garage band released only one single in 1966, and it’s a ripper (as most Aussie bands were in the 60s). This cut opens the Halloween Nuggets set and it is by far my favorite. The “laboratory” effects definitely ring back to a certain “Monster Mash” and the tune is a nice and fuzzy number about a witchy lady. Also check out the band, pictured above…they apparently wore hoods all the time—pretty badass. Take a look at this cool “scrapbook” site about the band, with photos, hooded and un-hooded, flyers and newspaper articles. The site appears to be the personal site of the drummer for the band? He advertises his entertainment management services, as well as his computer sales and servicing skills?
- The Astro Zombies trailer
- Invasion- The Invasion is Coming. This is the B-side to the 1967 single from this Milwaukee-based band. One of my favorites, after “Witch Girl”.
- The Ebbtides- Séance. Discogs reports that these guys were from Ohio, although this song is featured on a garage comp called Michigan Mayhem Vol. 1…so who knows? There were multiple bands with this name anyway.
- Atom Age Vampire trailer
- Larry & the Blue Notes- Night of the Phantom. These guys are a cult classic Texas band (there are a lot of those!). The song was originally called “Night of the Sadist”, but due to concerns that the radio would not play a record with the word ‘sadist’ in it, it was changed to “Night of the Phantom.” The single was released in 1965, and though the altered version is the one on this set, the original version has been released on compilations as well.
- Ralph Nielsen & the Chancellors- Scream. This record is from 1962 and the tune is the B-Side to “Little Demon”, which also would’ve fit the mood on this set.
- Frankenstein & Dracula trailer
- Positively 13 O’clock- Psychotic Reaction. This band is the alter ego of Texas garage legends Mouse and the Traps. I’m not sure why it exists exactly and the tune is a cover of the equally legendary garage band Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction.” (Count Five are also notable for wearing vampire capes…like, er, Count Dracula.)
- The Quests- Shadows in the Night. Another mid-60s band from Michigan. They look to have released three singles, all in 1966.
- The Blob trailer
- The Grim Reapers- Two Souls. This is one half of the only single from this California band, released in 1966. These dudes had a cool muted surf guitar thing interspersed with moody garage rock. Here’s the B-side: “Joanne”
- The Circus- Burn Witch Burn. This track smokes. It’s from the sole 45 this band released in 1967. The other song, “Bad Seed”, is a bit of a cult classic among the garage punk scene and is found on a bunch of Texas-themed compilations. Halloween Nuggets appears to be the only compilation (at least cataloged on discogs) that features the tune.
I hope you’ve found something new or a little different here to add to your own Halloween party playlist. I wholeheartedly recommend checking out the entire package (easy, considering it’s on Spotify). If the garage-y tunes aren’t as much your bag, there’s plenty of other stuff spread out on the three CDs.