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Modern Pea Pod’s Halloween 2005 Mixtape

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Up Jumped the Devil:
The Modern Pea Pod’s Halloween 2005 Mixtape

Christmas…who needs it? From Robert Johnson to Black Sabbath to the Cramps, if the last century of music history has taught us anything, it’s that Halloween rocks a hell of a lot harder. And why shouldn’t it? Halloween is theatrical. All that candy is bad for your health. And God probably hates it. In short, it’s the essence of rock’n’roll, coming around once a year to spook us thoroughly just as the leaves are beginning to fall and the nights are beginning to lengthen. We salute this most hedonistic of holidays with our very first MPP mixtape, 23 hair-raising tracks selected by the Modern Pea Pod staff especially to creep you out. This is, of course, far from a “definitive” list of Halloween-worthy songs…but grab yourself a spare C-90, use our handy track markings, and it won’t be long until a costume party mix to die for is in your sweaty little paws. “Monster Mash” free, guaranteed.

Side A

0:05 – Gravediggaz: “Diary of a Madman” (4:34)
We kick off our excursion into the dark side of pop with this choice cut from Prince Paul/Wu Tang side project Gravediggaz. Jon: “Gravediggaz was such a good project I can’t believe there’s not more hip-hop in this vein. Maybe the court scene that bookends the song is a little cheesy, but the descriptions of murder and exorcism are just so much fun. Also, the beat is perfect. Prince Paul should be worshipped night and day for this kind of quality.”
(Available on 6 Feet Deep)

4:40 – The Who: “Hall of the Mountain King” (4:19)
Look out kids, it’s Grieg in go-go boots! The Who get their Modtastic haunted-house thang on with this 1967 outtake, perfect for the Halloween party-goer who isn’t afraid to bust out the Batusi. Zach: “The band’s ‘spooky’ background gibberish is just hilarious…or on second thought, maybe that’s just Moonie after a handful of uppers.”
(Available on The Who Sell Out, Expanded Edition)

9:00 – Old Time Relijun: “Vampire Victim” (2:36)
As that goth kid down your street can surely attest, Halloween ain’t nothin’ without at least one vampire. And if anybody knows vampires, it’s Arrington DeDionyso. Hell, his name even kinda sounds like an Anne Rice character’s. Megan: “This song holds special creepy significance for me because in my childhood my older sister used to toment me over my fear of vampires. I spent many a night wearing turtlenecks to bed, as well as stealing my mother’s garlic for fear that she would appear next to my bed wearing her fake fangs. So when Old Time Relijun sings about becoming a vampire victim, I lived through that fear for a good two years. Man, I’m glad I’m not a vampire.”
(Available on Lost Light)

11:36 – Bauhaus: “Mask” (4:36)
And speaking of goth kids, here are the original goth kids with a snappy little number about every trick-or-treater’s costume staple. Jon: “Bauhaus knew how to do it. Swampy drums, tape running backwards, and synth that could be so cheesy if it weren’t used so well. The song would be great even if it didn’t have that towering build and beautiful acoustic release.”
(Available on Mask)

14:13 – Tom Waits: “Don’t Go Into That Barn” (5:22)
“Nobody, but nobody, does rural unease quite like Tom ‘Bone Machine’ Waits. For that matter, nobody does urban unease like him. You know what, fuck it. Nobody does anything like Waits, and that’s the last word on the subject: if you need proof, listen to this evocative vignette of terror and clandestine murder in scarecrowville, then ask yourself whether you still want to go into that barn. And for that matter, what’s holding you back – the mysterious barn itself, or the increasingly unsettling barks and splutters from Mr. Waits?”
(Available on Real Gone)

19:35 – Michael Jackson: “Billie Jean” (4:53)
Fuck Vincent Price – this moonwalking classic is the real “thriller.” Megan explains: “This is such a frightening song because of what it was inspired by. There actually was a woman at one time stalking Michael Jackson (now kids, this is when he was a good looking guy, so stop your snickering), claiming that he was her boyfriend and that she had given birth to a child by him. This stalking ended, apparently, with her sending him a razor blade in the mail and urging him to kill himself. ” And if that isn’t creepy enough for you, how about those horror movie strings?
(Available on Thriller)

24:28 – Scout Niblett: “Your Beat Kicks Back Like Death” (3:oo)
“Halloween can be a confusing time. Case in point: the little neighbor kids dressed up like ghosts last year – cute, or KKK? Similarly, take Scout Niblett. Her sing-songy chorus here (‘We’re all gonna die! We’re a-a-all gonna die!’) constitutes precisely one of those adorable/threatening moments.”
(Available on I Am)

27:28 – The White Stripes: “The Union Forever” (3:26)
“Okay, so maybe Citizen Kane doesn’t exactly top everyone’s list of favorite Halloween movies. And so maybe when it comes to rock’n’roll thrills and chills, Jack and Meg ain’t exactly Lux and Ivy. But give a close listen to this 2001 album track and just tell me it doesn’t sound like the score from some mid-’60s hipster Frankenstein remake, from the skeletal, reverb-drenched guitar plucking to the ominous organ right out of Joe Meek’s mad scientist laboratory.”
(Available on White Blood Cells)

30:54 – Gary Wilson: “Gary’s in the Park” (2:03)
Sometimes, fear isn’t just about ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night. Sometimes, it’s about the creepy neighborhood recluse who lives in his parents’ basement, the one you’re always afraid might be lurking for you in the shadows. Megan explains: “Gary Wilson is just a weird dude. He lives with two mannequins named Karen and Mary, yet he acts as if they were real people. He is also frequently pictured with flour and lipstick splattered all over his face, a fake wig, and huge ass sunglasses. Now imagine this man ‘in the dark waiting for you, in the park waiting for you.’ Since hearing this song, I’ve vowed never to be alone in a park at night.”
(Available on Mary Had Brown Hair)

32:57 – AC/DC: “Night Prowler” (6:13)
Scared yet? No? Then forget about Gary Wilson. Now, imagine it’s hard-drinking cock-rocker Bon Scott “breaking down your door” and “crawling ‘cross your floor.” And something tells us this time he’s after something a little more sinister than usual… Zach: “This is it, the song where AC/DC’s cartoon misogyny actually threatened to get a little scary. These guys mix sexual and violent imagery like horror pros, even allegedly inspiring serial killer Richard Ramirez. No wonder so many 1970’s housewives were convinced they’d been sent by Lucifer himself…although Bon’s suspiciously Mork and Mindy-esque vocalizations after the finale deflate some of the menace.”
(Available on Highway to Hell)

39:10 – The Scars: “I Want to be a Sailor” (4:40)
“It’s a testament to the gothic majesty of locals the Scars that they can take this only marginally dark song of obsessive, submissive love, and with just a few choice elements – menacing fuzz bass, tick-tock muted guitar scrapes, Dara’s voice – turn it into something that’s not just seductive, but positively otherwordly. These guys could play the proverbial phone book and make it sound creepy. As it is, drowning to death has never sounded quite so sexy.”
(Available on the Scars’ Website)

43:50 – Edgard Varese: “Poeme Electronique” (excerpt) (1:00)
“There is a small chance that someone will seek to play this mix tape at a haunted house. Towards that purpose, I close side one with Edgard Varese’s 1958 tape-manipulation hit. Remember when this was at the top of the pops?”
(Available on Varese: The Complete Works)

Final Runtime: 44:50

Side B

0:05 – Godspeed You! Black Emperor: “The Dead Flag Blues” (excerpt) (6:38)
All right, kids, now it’s time to stop screwing around. There’s nothing camp about the next few songs, and there sure isn’t anything that tastes remotely like candy. This is late October at its absolute bleakest. Dan kicks off the gloom: “Say what you like about the humorless Northern collective, but this is a creepy-ass song. ‘I open up my wallet and it’s full of blood’: never has feel-good Canadian socialism felt so bad.”
(Available on f#a#(infinity symbol))

6:44 – The Cure: “Pornography” (6:27)
“Probably the creepiest song recorded by The Cure. Lo-fi television noise overlapping on itself over flat, repetitive drumming and a menacing synth with little screeches of guitar just to add that extra insanity. Plus, Robert Smith makes a fine madman. He says ‘I’ll watch you drown in the shower’ like he means it.”
(Available on Pornography)

13:13 – KISS: “Christine Sixteen” (3:14)
But wait just a second! What’s a Halloween mix without a song by these happy hour costume contest mainstays? And it ain’t like this song isn’t genuinely troubling as it is. Says Zach: “It’s tough to decide what in particular makes ‘Christine Sixteen’ so scary. Is it the fact that ‘KISS’ was once rumored to be an acronym for ‘Knights in Satan’s Service?’ Is it the disturbing lookalike women in whiteface, kneeling at the feet of the arena rock monsters on the sleeve of parent album Love Gun? Is it because this is, unapologetically, a love-song directed to a sixteen-year-old girl? Actually, it’s none of these: this song creeps the shit out of me because of Paul Stanley’s lisping, spoken-word monologue. Hands down.”
(Available on Love Gun)

16:17 – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: “The Lyre of Orpheus”(5:36)
Of course, between KISS, AC/DC and a host of pentagram-metal acts not represented here, it’s easy to forget that fear is hardly the sole property of the long-haired and the leather-clad. Its roots are, indeed, ancient, and leave it to the Prince of Darkness himself, Nick Cave, to remind us of this. Megan explains: “Maybe I’ve spent too much time reading Ovid, but shit, Greek myths can be scary as fuck. And with Nick Cave’s gift of mixing menace and bombast with gospel choir on this song, you can’t help but feel the creepiness of a lyre whose sound can kill women, detonate birds, and cause rabbits to commit suicide.”
(Available on Abbatoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus)

21:53 – The Pixies: “Wild Honey Pie”(1:51)
Simply put, Black Francis had the most hair-raising scream in the business. Here’s a particularly visceral example. Or as Dan puts it: “If this reviewer were a homicidal clown, this would be his theme music.”
(Available on Pixies at the BBC)

23:05 – Prince: “Bob George” (5:36)
“This song is creepy enough just because every ‘character’ is played by Prince – including, thanks to some creative pitch-shifting, an abusive, deep-voiced man who threatens Prince’s manager throughout the song…then pulls a laser on the surrounding cops. The best part of this song, though, is after that skinny motherfucker with the high voice listened to it again, he thought it was evil and inspired by Satan, so he refused to release the Black Album.” The rest, as they say, is history.
(Available on the Black Album)

28:41 – Jandek: “You Painted Your Teeth” (3:08)
“Okay, let’s say you decided to surprise your friend by painting your teeth. Then, your crazy-ass boyfriend named Jandek comes in and threatens you with a knife and a gun. He becomes hysterical and starts vocalizing both sides of the conversation. And then, he tells you you’re gonna die. Six black horses and a really bad percussionist later, you’re in heaven (or hell) because YOU PAINTED YOUR TEETH.”
(Available on Telegraph Melts)

31:49 – Dr. Octagon: “Girl Let Me Touch You” (3:40)
Now that we’re out of Jandek’s dentist’s office from hell, isn’t it about time somebody wrote a song to address the horrors of a gynecology appointment gone kinky? Jon thinks so: “‘Stretch your stuff with latex/My strategy is rough.’ Kool Keith is the worst gynecologist ever. Only he and The Automator could pull this freaky shit off.”)
(Available on Dr. Octagonecologyst)

35:30 – The Oblivians: “Final Stretch” (3:52)
And as we near the close of our mixtape, here’s a little tune about nearing the close of something else: our own miserable, doomed sinner’s lives. Megan: “Greg Cartwright takes on the role of fire and brimstone preacher throughout the pulse-pounding Play 9 Songs with Mr. Quintron. Three-fourths chilling apocalyptic street corner shouter, one-fourth scream straight from the inside of his soul that makes every hair on the back of your neck stand up. You know hellhounds are chasing him around every corner in this song with every anguished scream and plea to God.”
(Available on Play 9 Songs with Mr. Quintron)

39:23 – The Velvet Underground: “The Gift” (excerpt) (3:00)
What better way to commemorate Halloween than with a scary story? Actually, let’s rephrase that: what more rock’n’roll way to commemorate Halloween than with a scary story written by Lou Reed and narrated by John fucking Cale? Dan’s Monsterpiece Theater goes a little something like this: “Strip the left-channel guitar and bass out of this song to isolate John Cale’s creepy, Welsh-accented story. Start with the final three minutes or so. Then, right before the last song, Waldo Jeffers gets the long blade thrust…well, you’d just have to listen.”
(Available on White Light/White Heat)

42:23 – Laurel Near: “In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song)” (1:32)
Finally, we come to the end of our creepy mixtape, with a song from David Lynch’s feel-good hit of 1977, Eraserhead. Zach: “The Pixies’ version is great, but this original soundtrack recording takes the prize for most unsettling by a long shot. Near’s choirgirl chanteuse delivery, coupled with Lynch’s own tentative organ and recorded in what sounds like a vacant, soundproof box (or tomb), would be creepy enough as it is; combined with the visuals in the film (not least Near’s Lady in the Radiator herself), it made me afraid to listen to the song at night for weeks.” And if that isn’t what Halloween is all about, what is?
(Available on the Eraserhead OST)

Final Runtime: 43:55

Total Runtime (Sides A & B): 88:45

Compiled by the Modern Pea Pod Staff

This article is also posted on The Modern Pea Pod.

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  • you forgot to mention that “Night Prowler” was said to have inspired serial killer Richard Ramirez, which adds to the creep-out factor

  • Good list, wrong song from The Who.

    Boris the Spider.

  • I love “The Gift”. Great VU song.

  • El Bicho: No kidding? I think I’ll note that in the article, thanks for letting me know.

    Matthew: Yeah, “Boris the Spider” definitely occurred to me, but I ended up deciding it might be cool to throw in something less people have heard. Just for variety’s sake or whatever. Actually, it might have been cool to do “Whiskey Man.” Maybe next year…

  • MPP, This post was chosen by the section editor as a BC pick of the week. Go HERE (link) to find out why.

    And thank you
    – Temple

  • Haha, good to see old Jandek on there.

    Surely it’s fitting that this post is below a review of a Helloween album.

    Perhaps Phantom of the Opera by Iron Maiden?
    Or Cemetary Gates by Panter?
    Just a suggestion.

  • Jandek, oh yea!

    another good Jandek ‘tune’ for this would be “Down In a Mirror” from “Chair Beside A Window”.


    We can’t deny there are spirits in this house
    You shut the door, the wind closes two more
    I laugh a dark laugh, you smile and think about it
    You’ll come again I’m sure you can’t refuse


  • Aaron: sadly, metal is one category in which the Modern Pea Pod’s expertise falls short. We’re all much too fey and timid to handle the testosterone. Hopefully someday we’ll get somebody on the staff who knows metal…as long as we don’t have to meet him in person, because I for one am already afraid of his tattoos.

    But yeah, it just isn’t Halloween without Jandek. I think that’s something on which we can all agree.