Love him or loathe him, there is no denying the impact that Glenn Danzig has had on punk and goth rock over the past three decades. From founding The Misfits to forming Samhain, all the way to his glory years as simply Danzig, he has never stopped making the music he wanted to make.
Since his departure from The Misfits and the disolution of Samhain, the Danzig years have spawned 8 studio albums, one EP, and one live album, along with a number of singles, soundtrack contributions, and two modern classical albums. In addition to all of that music, there have been a great number of songs recorded that were not included on any other release. Glenn has said it was not because they were bad or weak, it was just that they did not fit the sound or theme being built on for the given album. Now, we get a two disk set with 26 of these unreleased tracks.
The Lost Tracks of Danzig is split onto two disks of 13 songs each. Each disk is arranged chronologically from the first Danzig I sessions straight through to the Circle of Snakes leftovers. Okay, leftovers isn't the right word, as the connotation is not all that positive, but that is essentially what they are, it is not that they were the scraps cut off the meal, rather the portion that you could not finish at the time but eagerly anticipated at a future date. Just like every album, not every song is a keeper, but there are some definite gems here.
Disk one opens with two of the earliest recordings, and they are a bit rough around the edges, but do exhibit the beginnings of that classic Danzig sound. The songs are "Pain is Like an Animal" and the first version of "When Death had No Name." The later is a song that went through a number of permutations over the years, and is represented with two versions on this set, with the second coming from the Danzig III: How the Gods Kill sessions. The latter version is vastly superior, not only in production values, but in the dark vibe that it generates.
Disk one also includes the excellent "Cold, Cold Rain" which is just a strong song, dark, epic, and a definite keeper. Another good one is "Satan's Crucifiction" which has a great feeling of unease in the opening guitar riff, plus the obvious satanic overtones. Glenn has been quoted as saying this about the track: "The song 'Satan's Crucifiction' … is actually one of my favorite songs, and I love it. The double guitars, the vocals — it's a great song that didn't make it to the album. The main reason was that I wrote it as a joke to piss off the label [Def American]. They were like, 'Please don't do another satanic record, because MTV is playing you guys now, and the radio is playing you guys.' I wrote that song and we called the label guy, threatening him that the record was going to be all satanic. He flew down to the studio in a rage and we wouldn't let him listen to it, and he was all pissed off."
Sounds about right, glad that is out now, as it is a good track. There is another track which is a bit to the controversial side, and is a decent Danzig track, "White Devil Rise" written in response to a speech by Louis Farrakhan. It sort of paints Danzig in a rather racist light, although I am not entirely sure that was the intent, but I do not know, and probably wouldn't be surprised.
That brings me to one more track from disk one that is worth mentioning, "Come to Silver." It is a haunting acoustic track that Glenn had originally written for Johnny Cash, but issues between Glenn and American Records prevented the Man in Black from recording it. It is a dark song that I can imagine with Cash's voice.
Disk two inches us ever closer to the more recent Danzig offerings. The disk opens with the excellent, percussive groove of "Lick the Blood Off My Hands" followed by "Crawl Across Your Killing Floor," another strong dark groove. If anything, the second disk may offer up stronger work than the first disk, with such eerie tracks as "Bound by Blood," "Malefical," and "Dying Seraph." One song that grabbed me right away was "Soul Eater," the heaviest offering of the set, delivering the headbanging goods.
As the set winds down, the material does not become any weaker. "Lady Lucifera" heads up the final three tracks, and there is a thick, evil quality to it. The final two includes "Underbelly of the Beast" which is an alternate mix than the one that appeared on the Crow: Salvation soundtrack, both of which are remixed versions of the original "Belly of the Beast" which appeared on 6:66 Satan's Child. The final track is a more NIN style remix track of "Unspeakable" called the Shango mix, the original version also from the Satan's Child release.
There are three cover songs. The first appears on the first disk, and it is a new take on "Buick McKane" which was originally recorded by T. Rex. The second disk offers up a reinvigorated version of The Germs' "Caught in My Eye" and the unlikely cover of David Bowie's "Cat People." All of them given a uniquely Danzig spin, which works better than you would have thought.
Bottomline. The promo copy that I received did not have the liner notes explaining the origin of each song, so I cannot share any of that info. Regardless, the set is a treasure of rare Danzig material which is more than mere scrapings used to satisfy a contract or signal a waning career, it is more a gift from Glenn to his longtime fans. There are a lot of good songs here, many which could rank among his best. This release should be a no-brainer to any fan.