The Misfits' "Collection I" album is probably the most essential album out there for me. It embodies my love of horror, rock and roll, lo-fi recordings and being outside the mainstream all at once. There's a story to my love of this album. It starts when I was fifteen.
In 1993, I was learning guitar, playing in my first band and completely obsessed with Metallica. They were the epitome of Bay Area thrash and I was quickly diving into as much of their music, home videos and info on the band as I could get my hands on.
Thanks to the popularity of the live version of Mother getting airtime on MTV, I was exposed to Danzig around this time. These guys played a heavy, metal-edged rock and had all the imagery that grabbed my attention instantly.. skulls, long hair, black clothes, cool guitars, etc. At this point, Danzig and Metallica were, without question, my two favorite bands. I couldn't get more of their music into my collection fast enough. If I had extra money, it was going to them.
I noticed the infamous Crimson Ghost in tons of Metallica pictures. They were always wearing Misfits shirts but I didn't know anything about the band. You couldn't just find out anything you wanted to know on the internet at this point. Through a Metallica biography, I came across the fact that Glenn Danzig was the singer for The Misfits. I was sold. I didn't need to know anything more, I just needed a Misfits album.
I found a few CD's at the record store the next time I was there. "Legacy of Brutality" had cool skeleton art on it. "Walk Among Us" had an awesome ode to B-horror movies going on with the cover art. Then, there was "Collection I". The cover art was a little more plain but it had twenty songs on it. Twenty songs! That was mine. I got home and immediately called my friend, Adam (the drummer for my first band).
"Dude, I got a Misfits CD. You need to come over and check this out with me."
He came over right away and I put it on for our first listen. She is the first song on the album... and it was... weird.
"What the hell is this?" "Did they record this in their garage?" "This is Danzig's old band?" These are all thoughts that immediately came to us and I'm pretty sure each one of these phrases spewed from our mouths.
By the time the second song, Hollywood Babylon, was done, we were hooked, even singing along already. We weren't used to recordings like this and, though it was dark subject matter, it didn't sound angry, it sounded fun. Once the shock of something new and completely unexpected wore off, the simplistic genius set in. It sounded bad, but it sounded right sounding so bad. This was completely unpolished, full of 50's-style rock and roll chord progressions, crooning, yelling on key, a little thrash towards the end, a healthy dose of punk rock attitude and a ton of horror movie influence all in one.
Last Caress was the song I knew because Metallica covered it live (someone I knew eventually dubbed their "Garage Days" cassette for me so I could have Last Caress/Green Hell, but I don't think that had happened yet) . Last Caress wasn't on "Collection I". I think that made me a true fan. It made me listen to the whole thing instead of seeking out the one song I knew and listening to it repeatedly.
As a horror fan, the imagery is right, the subject matter is right. That unpolished sound, even though it took about a minute and a half to get into, really just works for me. Glenn Danzig's almost Elvis-style vocals with the dirty, lo-fi sound; it all fits together so well.
Metal and punk rock are definitely complimentary for horror fans but no one's ever done horror rock (or horror punk) like The Misfits. Legions of horror punk bands have popped up since. Most try to sound like The Misfits. Hardly any could hold a candle to them, though.
This album, in particular, influenced my song writing so much as a teenager and still it does. Almost every band I've been in where I was sort of the "guy in charge" covered at least one Misfits song. Even in my current project, Werewolves in Siberia, I covered Halloween and London Dungeon in a completely different fashion; turning them into horror synth songs that fit in well with the rest of my WIS stuff.
There are a few Misfits songs I'm not too into but, for the most part, I really dig their entire catalog (original Misfits, anyway). It doesn't matter what mood I'm in, you can throw on The Misfits and I won't have a problem with it. "Collection I" was not only my introduction to them, but having twenty songs on it, it was also a great way to get a grasp on the band, as a whole. This makes it THE necessity for me, rather than picking one of the albums they originally released.
There are so many iconic songs on this album. She, Hollywood Babylon, Skulls, Where Eagles Dare, Die Die My Darling, Vampira, I Turned into a Martian, All Hell Breaks Loose, London Dungeon... I haven't even begun to scratch the surface here! It's just awesome. It's probably the most listened to album in my collection (in any format). It just fits, no matter what, anytime.
Where Eagles Dare
Die Die My Darling