Tuesday, 27 October 2015

My Top Ten Frankenstein Songs




It's Halloween this week, so it's time for a suitably horrific Top Ten to go along with these previous spooky entries...

My Top Ten Vampire Songs

My Top Ten Zombie Songs

My Top Ten Haunted Songs

And yes, I know the Monster isn't called Frankenstein.



10. Bobby 'Boris' Pickett and The Crypt Kickers - The Monster Mash

Let's start with the obvious one. It's a graveyard smash!

Originally released in 1962, though it was banned in the UK by the BBC for being "too morbid" (different times) so it wasn't a hit over here until the early 70s.

9. Jack Savoretti - Dr. Frankenstein

I'm not sure what I make of Jack Savoretti. I have a couple of his records, but they've never really grabbed me by the lugholes. This is a pleasant enough tune though, not too earnest-young-man (the curse of many of today's male singer songwriters, I feel: they need to crack a smile every now and then), and it deserves a mention for giving Shelley's original Doctor some consideration... rather than the more obvious Universal or Hammer take on the character as seen... well, here:

8. Blue Öyster Cult - The Siege and Investiture of Baron von Frankenstein's Castle at Weisseria

OK, so I wouldn't choose to listen to this every day, but occasionally I do dig a bit of hysterically operatic pomp-rock. And let's face it, it deserves a place on this countdown for its title alone.

Carpe diem!

7. Oingo Boingo - Weird Science

The theme tune to the 80s teen comedy in which two high school nerds create their own "Franken-babe" in the shape of Kelly Le Brock.

You had to be there. And be a teenager.

I was vaguely aware of Oingo Boingo beyond this song, but I did not know that they'd been around since 1972 (when they started life as The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo), or that their lead singer / songwriter was movie and Simpson theme tune composer Danny Elfman. 

6. Sam Cooke - Another Saturday Night

Sam is new in town and having no luck whatsoever finding himself a date for Saturday night...
Now, another fella told me,
He had a sister who looked just fine
Instead of being my deliverance
She had a strange resemblance
To a cat named Frankenstein!
Ouch. 

5. The Edgar Winter Group - Frankenstein

This is what rock music looked like in the 70s, kids. If you watched The Old Grey Whistle Test, anyway. A monumental rock instrumental, this song apparently made history for being the first time  anyone had ever strapped a keyboard around their neck and played it like a guitar. Winter goes on to play both saxophone AND drums here during the same performance: without ever taking the keyboard off.

The original recording was spliced together from loads of separate tapes in which Winter played most of the instruments himself: hence, Frankenstein.    

4. Aimee Mann - Frankenstein

Annoyingly, the only version I could find on youtube is a live recording where Aimee drags half of Toronto up on stage with her to take part in the song. Which is a shame, because this is Metaphorical Aimee at her best, giving electric life to the story of a horrific romance...
And when later we find that the thing we devised
Has the villagers clamouring for it's demise
We will have to admit the futility of
Trying to make something more of this jerry-built love
3. Aerosmith & Run DMC - Walk This Way

Originally released by Aerosmith in the 70s, the more famous version is Rick Rubin's masterful car crash of hip hop and rock which broke rap into the mainstream charts for the first time and led to many far less-enjoyable rock/rap combos. It's a great song in both incarnations, but what's the Frankenstein connection, I hear you ask?

Well, Steve Tyler came up with the title based on a scene in the Mel Brooks' film Young Frankenstein. He left his original lyrics for the rest of the song on the back seat of a taxi so the version that was finally recorded was a sleazy something he came up with in the stairwell at the studio while the rest of the band were twiddling their fingers and bitching about him behind his back.

2. John Grant - GMF

The best song on this list by a mile (hell, it's one of the best songs of the 21st century), but I couldn't make it Number One for reasons detailed below.

No, the F in GMF doesn't stand for Frankenstein... but there is quite a lot of Frankenstinian imagery going on here, notably here...
Half of the time I think I'm in some movie.
I play the underdog of course.
I wonder who they'll get to play me.
Maybe they could dig up Richard Burton's corpse?

I am not who you think I am.
I am quite angry--which I barely can conceal.
You think I hate myself, but it's you I hate
Because you have the nerve to make me feel.
Imagine those lines delivered by Monster to his creator... and they make a twisted kind of sense, don't they? And if further evidence is needed...
I should've practiced my scales.
I should not be attracted to males.
But you said that I should learn to love myself.
Well, make up your mind, Dr. Frankenstein!
If you've not got into John Grant yet, please reconsider. Don't forget: you could be laughing 65% more of the time...

1. Alice Cooper - Teenage Frankenstein / Feed My Frankenstein

I had to give this one to Alice: he won on sheer numbers. Two great songs about Frankenstein AND a whole career cobbled together from horror film theatrics. It lives!

Of the two, 1986's Teenage Frankenstein is the stronger strong, a classic ode to teenage alienation... even though it was written by a 38 year old man. 
I'm a teenage Frankenstein
These ain't my hands
And these legs ain't mine
Got a synthetic face
Got some scars and a brace
My hands are rough and bloody
I walk into the night
Women faint at the sight
I ain't no cutie-pie
I can't walk in the day
I must walk in the night
Teenage Frankenstein was written for the soundtrack of Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. You know, the one where Jason comes back from the dead and hacks to death a bunch of nubile teenagers after they're finished with (or, occasionally during) copulation. Ah, yes, it brings back memories of my own teenage years. Not the copulation: the duff 80s horror sequels.

Feed My Frankenstein, on the other hand, featured in a slightly more memorable film: Wayne's World. Wayne and Garth even feature in the video. Unlike TF, it wasn't an original Vincent Furnier composition: it was first recorded by Zodiac Mindwarp And The Love Reaction.




Which one makes you do the Monster Mash?

4 comments:

  1. Really? So many of them! Who knew?!! (I will be singing a mash up of monster mash and time warp for days now!)

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    Replies
    1. I had more, but ten is all I'm allowed.

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  2. BTW have you seen Hotel Transylvania yet? I love it - best kiddy film since Shrek https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSxN7Wy1x0k

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't, but I'm sure we'll get round to it in the coming years. We're all about Cars & Cars II at the moment.

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