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“I Turned Around And My Eyes Bugged Out!”

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Have no idea who the mysterious folks behind Germany’s Buffalo Bop records are (none of the discs that I own have any production credits on ’em), but I’ve been buying their releases in funky li’l record stores for years now. A reissue label devoted to collecting obscure rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll 45’s, they’ve been putting out nicely mastered sets of stuff you probably wouldn’t otherwise hear if it weren’t for them obsessive European collector types.
Two of the line’s collections, Horror Hop and Monster Bop are particularly apt for this time of year. Gathering rockin’ novelty numbers from a variety of defunct labels (Sandy, Brunswick, and so on), they take us to an era when teen-centric movie companies like AIP were drive-in staples – and rock could be as goofy as it wanted. Echo and sound fx, wolf howls, cackling laughter and choral screams, lots of lyrical riffs on characters beloved by an audience reared on Famous Monsters of Filmland: it’s all there by the casket full on these two CDs.

Consider “The Mummy’s Bracelet” by Lee Ross (from HHop), a country ballad in the style of Marty Robbins about a man who steals the title object and gives it to his girl, only to see the mummy return to retrieve it and then turn his girlfriend into stone. Or Jack Hammer’s “Black Widow Spider Woman” (HH), a squawnkin’ saxy rocker about a guy who falls for a real-life black widow and asks, “Do I get a love bite tonight?” Or Bobby Please’s “The Monster” (MB), which describes Doctor Frankenstein’s dismayed realization that the monster he thought dead is still alive and pursuing him (“Why do my feet move so slow?”) until the final stanza delivers a punchline right out of an old Jack Davis comic illustration.

Some of the material is probably familiar to fans of early rock ‘n’ roll: the Hollywood Flames’ Coasters-styled “Frankenstein’s Den” (on MBop) has appeared on more than one Halloween-themed oldies collection, as has the Revells’ doo-woppy “Midnight Stroll” (HH). Kip Taylor’s “Jungle Hop” (HH) is on a slew of rockabilly collections and has been covered by the Cramps besides. But most of these cuts will be new to all but the most diligent rockabilly junkie. A few forgotten Golden Throat ghastlies are even resurrected: Lon Chaney’s fangless cover of Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “Monster Holiday” and Bert Convy’s amusing original “The Gorilla” (both HH), which owes more than a little to “Flying Purple People Eater.”
Pure adolescent dumbness, in other words – and lots of laffs, too. Only pop-rock this disposable could be so cheerily attuned to the teen-aged monster lurking within its mass audience. (It isn’t ’til we get to punk and metal that full-blown self-loathing enters the equation.) “I’d rather go to a horror show than a party or a dance with you,” Eddie Thomas tells his girl in “Frankenstein Rock” (MB) ’cause it’s the only time he gets to hold her tight.

Horror and horniness: they go together like peanut butter and chocolate.

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About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.
  • Eric Olsen

    Sounds great Bill, I love that kind of stuff, especially this time of year. Monsters rule.