Make horrid scars and gashes.


Johnson Smith Novelty Company "Horror Record" (Johnson Smith Co, 32071, 1973)

As a kid the Johnson Smith Novelty Company seemed like just about the coolest thing in the world to me, and their ubiquitous ads in most early to mid '70's comics really stoked the flames for my nascent love of stupid crap (not to mention total junk). Given that I was also obsessed with all things Halloween, by far one of the most drool-worthy ads for me was this one:

So you can bet that I ordered off for that "Horror Record" as soon as I could scrape together the required cash (along w/ the U-Control Ghost, but that's another story). When it finally arrived though (as a 7", not the full LP I'd pictured) it was, like nearly all things ordered from comic books, something of a letdown. I think I'd truly imagined that once I dropped that needle down my entire bedroom would suddenly become a haunted house or something, but if any record could manage THAT trick, this wasn't gonna be it. To be fair side one wasn't so bad -- pretty much just 7 minutes of the usual Halloween sound effects I'd come to know already -- but on side two they tried to piece together some sort of semi-cohesive storyline which is where the whole thing fell apart. The narrator's attempts at a sinister voice were risibly lame (he stammers a few times & seems to be making most of it up as he goes along), and as something of a horror purist (I wanted your classic array of ghosts, werewolves, vampires, zombies, witches & ghouls) I was morbidly aghast by the end of the thing when the cartoon voiced "Krishtor the Moon Monster" arrives to blow the world up (this after an extended flogging scene!). To be honest though, I STILL played the living hell out of this record and quickly grew to prefer the cheapo feel it wallowed in much more than if they had pulled things off with slicker results (a preference that would screw up my tastes for the rest of my life). Now through the magic of the internet you too can share in the glory of this B-Grade 70's horror vibe, and as an added bonus I'm sticking up an entire LP released in 1960 that was culled from the identical audio library (it even features the same damn Krishtor scene but in extended/ dorkier form; this time the bit ends with some goofy sounding beatnik guy reciting a poem). Like, boo.

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(most of) Side Two of the Johnson Smith Horror Record comes to life! In animated form! Boo!

The Amazing Spider-Man "A Rockomic: From Beyond the Grave" (Buddah, KSS-117, 1972)

A fave from childhood, I ended up with my copy around 1976 through Publisher's Clearing House (after it had been remaindered for about 98 cents) and felt very, you know, Rock & Fucking Roll as I sung the songs with my friends on the playground at school (one of them even calls Spider-Man a "sex machine" which seemed pretty noteworthy to our seven year old brains). Not to be confused with that all-music "Rock Reflections of a Super-Hero" thing that came out a few years later on Lifesongs, this is a mix of a storyline (involving the Kingpin, Dr. Strange, and a retelling of the Spider-Man origin) along with 4 original "Rock Songs" that sorta follow the standard Buddah house sound of the day (ranging from wah-wah pop rock to dopey ballads). I broke the whole thing into tracks as best I could, 'cause if you're like me after a few listens you'll probably want to skip "It's Such A Groove To Be Free" before it bores it's way into your skull. Oh and hey, for all you Archies fans: that's the ubiquitous Ron Dante singing the songs (and busy actor Rene Auberjonois voicing Peter Parker/ Spider-Man.)

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Steno-Disc "Actual Business Letters Dictated at Various Speeds" (Steno-Disc, No.514, 195?)

Here's a genre of record that was popular enough for a few competing labels to try their hand at releasing titles; dictation LPs intended for use by aspiring stenographers, typists & shorthand note takers. Judging by the back cover there were plenty of volumes in the Steno-Disc series (both full length & 45 rpm) to choose from, but what I'm sharing here today is specifically described as "Business Letters for Students and Shorthand Brush-Up: 90, 100, 110 WPM".

Back in the early 1990's there was a period when I would run my stereo output through a delay pedal for days on end, which had the effect of making everything sound pretty damn good. Perhaps unsurprisingly I found that with that setup I was quite often in the mood for the banal & unimpassioned delivery (not to mention content) of this album, and though I'm posting the tracks in a naked and untreated form my guess is that their charms won't prove too elusive to grasp in any setting.

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Pink Panther Punk (Kid Stuff, KSS-117, 1981)

Well it's not too hard to figure out where the idea for this came from. In fact maybe the real head scratcher is why, after the surprise success of Chipmunk Punk, there weren't way MORE kiddie record labels trying to figure out a way to cash in on the clearly lucrative Novelty Punk children's market. While Chipmunk Punk at least skirted around the edges of mainstream New Wave, Pink Panther Punk can be noted by its insistence on COMPLETELY missing the mark; the LP is a weird mix of between-song skits that lead into covers of somewhat contemporary songs by AOR faves Pink Floyd, Billy Joel & the Doobie Brothers (with Blondie's "Call Me" providing the sole Wave-O moment) alongside equally crummy originals like "Rock And Roll Panther", "Panther on the Prowl", and "It's Punk" all written by producer John Braden. Despite top billing the pink one himself only sings a song or two, and though perpetually silent in the cartoons he's vocally imagined here as a charmless Tommy Chong-esque stoner. Pretty much like you always figured I'm sure.

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Richard Taylor: Nightmare (Major Records M-36, 1962)

If you poke around in some of those Famous Monsters offshoot mags from the early 60's you'll often see ads for records like this:

...and if you're a nutjob like me you've probably been tearing out your hair trying to imagine what they might sound like, right? Well wonder no more! Today I'm posting one of the best from the cheapo Major Records lineup: Nightmare. Here you'll find a pair of totally breathy, insane, creepy-voiced interpretations of two of Mr Edgar Allan Poe's finest works ("The Tell-Tale Heart" & "The Pit & the Pendulum") , with some trippy & off-key reverb-laden guitar noodling going on in the background that genuinely seems to heighten the sense of madness. You know how it frequently seems like (since no one was really paying attention) producers would kind of go nuts when recording children's records in general, and spooky records in particular? Well here's a prime example from the early 1960's. So very very great.

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Sounds of Terror! (Pickwick SPC-5104, 1974)

Wade Denning's name is all over some of my favorite spooky records from the late '60's/ early '70's (mostly in conjunction with Pickwick), and this is one of the best/ most extreme. It seems that Mr. Denning did a lot of audio work in a variety of guises, but it's easily his Halloween related stuff that's colored my life the most.

I can still distinctly remember the day that my mother bought me this record at the local JC Pennny's store thanks to the clerk's assurance that it "wasn't that scary" & "would be fine for a five year old" (this despite tracks with titles like "Be Buried Alive" & "The Victims of the Guillotine" proudly displayed on the cover). She was uncertain, but I REALLY wanted "The Monster Mash" (it turned out to be a semi-lame re-recording, but I wouldn't figure that out for a few years) so she eventually relented. Side one is a collection of some pretty standard monster vignettes entitled "Famous Monsters and Ghouls" (mostly stuff like Frankenstein's monster, the Mummy, etc) but side TWO focuses on "Man's Inhumanity to Man" and I honestly had nightmares for months (maybe years) thanks to this thing -- but I also couldn't stop listening to it, so it's not like I didn't have an active hand in the process, right?. A few years later, while setting up my own "Haunted House" with a friend in my backyard (we had several dummy corpses made out of sweatshirts & jeans stuffed with newspaper, a buncha gravestones cut out of wood, etc), I recorded loops of a number of these tracks & played them on portable tape players ("Nightmare of Lost Souls" & "Curse of the Zombies" were both outstanding in this regard) so it's safe to say that this LP continued to serve me very well over the years. And here it is for YOU.

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Batman (Power Records PR-8167, 1975)

Well then, here's yet another place to start sticking zip files of various audio obsessions of mine. Expect a lot of children's records, Halloween junk, Punk Rockery & random oddities from here & there (and I'll try to keep the bit rate around 192 or better). Let's get going today with a complete Power Records LP from 1975:

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