A Funky16Corners Halloween...
Vampires & Ghosts!!
Greetings. I was going to say something sunny like ‘Happy Monday!’, but then I realized that no one is happy about getting up to go to work on Monday (and I wasn't looking for a punch in the nose). Even if you’ve gotten to the point where you “enjoy” your job (and I kind of do...), a willingness to extract yourself from a nice warm bed on a crisp fall morning, just so you can fight highways full of equally unhappy/sleep deprived people - driving recklessly because they dropped their Blackberry into their coffee when they stopped to turn up the radio – is indicative of a deeper problem. Dare I say a sickness??? Well cheer up bucko! It’s Halloween! After all of the previously mentioned discomfort, you get to see who in your office was foolish enough to show up in costume. If you’re lucky you also get to drift around the building, grazing for Halloween goodies. When you’re done with that you can Google jpegs from ‘It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown’, imagining that you are not shackled to your computer, but rather a WW1 flying ace, battling the Huns from the cockpit of your Sopwith Camel (that’s what I’d do...). When you’re done with that, you can check out today’s selections from the cobwebbed vaults back at Funky16Corners central command. As much as I enjoy partaking in holiday celebrations, I’ve never been very good at assembling canonical lists of “holiday themed” records. Whenever I see people putting together lists of great Christmas or Halloween songs, I’m always shocked at how many great records I’d forgotten (as well as how many crappy records get dragged out at times like this). That said, I couldn’t let Halloween pass without digging in the crates for a couple of goodies. The first track I thought of is one of those great, “weird” funk records that almost defy explanation. Why the Souls Unlimited decided to record ‘The Raving Vampire Pts 1&2” is beyond me. The backing track is solid, organ-driven funk, that in and of itself fits in quite nicely with other contemporary examples of the genre. Things start to get strange as soon as the singing starts. The vocal track is composed alternately of macabre laughter, and shouts of ‘I'm the Raving Vampire!!”. There are “lyrics” of a sort, in which young girls are warned that the sun has gone down and it’s time to get up, followed by the sun coming up again etc etc. I’ve heard on good authority that this record originated in the Carolinas, and I’m left wondering if there’s some regional Halloween-related genre that I’m unaware of. Other than that, or the possibility that there’s some C-grade low budget slasher film out there with this record as it’s theme, I just don’t know. Either way, the combination of quality late 60’s/early 70’s funk with bizarre/exploito lyrics is a winner (not to mention the teepee on the label....). Our second selection is the always surprising ‘There’s A Ghost In My House’ by R. Dean Taylor. When I was a kid – back in the day – R. Dean Taylor was know as the guy that created the cringe inducing AM radio favorite ‘Indiana Wants Me’. Years later, I find out that prior to that part of his career, he recorded a smoking disc for the Motown subsidiary VIP (and also co-wrote 'Love Child' for the Supremes) that was a solid fave of the Northern Soul crowd, ‘There’s A Ghost In My House’ (it actually charted in the UK in the 70’s) . Now, after a cursory listen to the lyrics, it’ll become obvious that R. Dean’s “ghost” is of the figurative variety, but since the protagonist of the song is being psychologically “haunted”, it’d do for a Halloween post (C’mon...how many “horror” movies have you sat through where it turned out that the “monster” is other people???). So, enjoy these tunes, and then go home and make yourself sick mixing beer and candy.