By the time you’re reading this, it will be early November. Pumpkins start to rot, the good candy eaten, and all the sexy Halloween costumes a distant memory. However, that doesn’t mean all the spooky fun is over! If you’re anything like me, every day is Halloween! No, this article isn’t gonna be about Ministry, it’s about another favorite of mine; the Misfits!
From the humble beginnings in Lodi, New Jersey in 1977 as a garage band to selling out Madison Square Garden in 2019, the Misfits remain one of the most important bands in the history of punk.
Heavyweights such as Metallica, Green Day, and Rob Zombie site the Misfits as an influence. Even pop-punk acts such as My Chemical Romance, Alkaline Trio, or Blink 182 wouldn’t exist without the inspiration. Combining elements of hardcore, gothic imagery, and campy horror movie aesthetics, their sound is just as important. Even if you’ve never listened to a single track, odds are you’re familiar with the iconic Crimson Skull badge that adorns all their merchandise. It’s arguably just as recognizable as the Rolling Stones’ lips emblem.
Despite the influence and importance, the Misfits don’t have a large body of work.
Without counting the releases recorded after 1983 (the Jerry-fits are weak and the less said about the Michael Graves-lead variation of the Misfits, the better), they only released 2 full-length albums and a handful of singles/EPs. If you’ve never listened to the Misfits but want to know what the fuss is all about, I’ve compiled 10 songs that perfectly sums up the experience. I know what you’re thinking, 10 songs is a considerable amount of music for a band with under 40 songs! And that may be true, but I’m willing to bet if you like these songs, you’ll probably be interested in the plethora of music Glenn Danzig was responsible for post-Misfits.
Keep in mind, this isn’t an end all be all list. It’s pretty easy to track down and listen to their entire discography in one sitting. This is just what I personally believe properly represents the Misfits as a whole. As stated above, this only refers to the Danzig era. As any Misfit fan will tell you, No Glenn, no Misfits.
10. “Death Comes Ripping” – Just like the intro to each of the modern reunion shows, “Death Comes Ripping” opens the show with rapid-fire drums, chaotic guitars, and faux-goth lyricism. I can’t think of a better introduction to the world of the Misfits.
9. “Attitude” – There’s an indescribable satisfaction hearing an up-beat pop-punk guitar riff behind lyrics of anger, frustration, and violence as the answer. If you’ve never sung this at the top of your lungs to release the tension of an unforgiving workday, you’re not me.
8. “Where Eagles Dare” – Continuing the theme of major chords and pent up aggression comes this charming little diddy about standing up to the oppression society inflicts on its people. In fact, it just might be the most punk of punk songs ever recorded!
7. “Cough/Cool” – Despite being such an important punk band, the Misfits utilized atmosphere far more than guitars. With keyboards and synthetic rhythms as it’s fuel, “Cough/Cool” is closer to the likes of early Ministry or Depeche Mode (who’d show up long after this song was recorded).
6. “London Dungeon” – Equal parts goth and surf, “London Dungeon” is a black-eyed love song recounting the infamous story of the band being arrested for accusations of grave robbing and thrown in jail while on tour in the UK. This description is textbook Danzig and I adore every second of it.
5. “Die, Die My Darling” – The kiddies will recognize this by the Metallica cover years. And while those dudes do a serviceable version of “Die, Die My Darling”, nothing compares to the atmosphere and raw emotion Glenn and the boys offer up here. As a kid, I always thought the keyboard or guitar riff (whatever it is doing that beeping sound) was emulating a heart monitor, especially as it fades then abruptly stops at the end.
4. “Hybrid Moments” – As a strong contender for one of their most recognizable melodies, this song sounds just as powerful now as the very first time I heard it as an 11-year-old obsessed with horror movies. It’s not only one of my favorite Misfits, its probably one of my favorite songs period.
3. “American Nightmare” – They don’t call Glenn Danzig the Evil Elvis for nothin’. There really isn’t much more I can say about this track. If you dig old school rock n’ roll seasoned with murderous imagery and gothic swagger, this should be your favorite song
2. “Last Caress” – No matter what anyone says, who compiles it, or who listens, there can’t be a list of iconic Misfits songs without “Last Caress”. It’s ugly, offensive, and magical when singing along in public while getting all sorts of dirty looks from your peers.
1. “Astro Zombies” – Early 60s chord progression, lyrics referring to a campy B movie, and the most satisfying “whooaaaahs” of any song ever recorded, “Astro Zombies” may not be the best song from the Misfits, but it definitely sums them up in just over 2 minutes. Every sensational second of this song properly represents everything I’ve loved about this band since the moment I was introduced to them all the way to the time I’ll be laid to rest. Its the perfect combination of IDGAF attitude, ferocious energy, and unmistakable attitude. All presented with a certain self-aware wink as if they’re having just as much fun playing it as we are listening and singing along. If I had to pick a single track to introduce someone to the Misfits, it would be, without question, “Astro Zombies”.
If this playlist is your proper introduction to the Misfits, I hope you have a good time as I did when I was first introduced to them. I’ve been a lifelong fan the instant I heard the first note of the first song on the dubbed self-made cassette I received as a kid. If you’re already a fan, I’d love to hear the top ten you’d come up with as an introduction to a newbie! Until the next time, remember: We Are 138….