The Misfits's Crimson Christmas - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The Misfits's Crimson Christmas

Aren't we all just misfits? Asks Chris Morley...

2019 brought with it a stir from the crypt to which most people must have thought the Misfits had been consigned - but the majority of the original line-up has resurfaced, bassist Jerry Only (pseudonym the result of a request to credit him as Jerry only after his surname Caiafa was spelt incorrectly on an early single) reuniting with vocalist Glenn Danzig & guitarist brother Doyle.

Among the lesser known fruits of an earlier Only-led Misfits' flirtation with heavy metal is the 2013 Horror Xmas EP, containing Island Of Misfit Toys alongside covers of Elvis Presley's Blue Christmas & You're A Mean One, Mr Grinch, lyrics by Dr Seuss himself set to music by Albert Hague for 1966's How The Grinch Stole Christmas......
You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch
You really are a heel
You're as cuddly as a cactus
You're as charming as an eel
Mr. Grinch
You're a bad banana with a greasy black peel
You're a monster, Mr. Grinch
Your heart's an empty hole
Your brain is full of spiders
You've got garlic in your soul, Mr Grinch
I wouldn't touch you with a
Thirty-nine and a half foot pole

In keeping with a tradition of using imagery drawn from horror, the cover art has the green Christmas thief combined with the Crimson Ghost, a skull-like figure which eventually came to be incorporated into most other such endeavours having been inspired by a poster for 1946's The Crimson Ghost & first featured on the cover of the 1979 Horror Business single.

They then opened for the Damned when Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible & chums came over to try cracking America - Vanian not taking Jerry entirely seriously when the two discussed the possibility of doing similar in London. Much to his chagrin no doubt, as they flew over anyway after releasing the Night Of The Living Dead single in November of '79. Danzig's scrap with some skinheads as he tried to get into a Jam gig getting him two nights in Brixton prison! An experience which in its own way inspired London Dungeon from 1981's Three Hits From Hell EP.

They called us walking corpses
Unholy living dead
They had to lock us up
Put us in their British hell

Make sure your face is clean now
Can't have no dirty dead
All the corpses here are clean, boy
All the Yanks in British hell

I don't want to be here in your London Dungeon
I don't want to be here in your British hell
Ain't no mystery why I'm in misery in hell.......
Returning to the States they then began work on a first full album, Walk Among Us released in March of 1982. As well as being the home of more oddly catchy if a bit horrific in places punk, it finds room for more pictorial evidence of an appreciation of schlocky horror! Added to a picture of the band you'll find UFOs from Earth vs The Flying Saucers & the Rat-Bat Spider from The Angry Red Planet. If that weren't enough, Astro Zombies draws from the well of 1969's The Astro Zombies.

Prime directive, exterminate
The whole human race
And your face drops in a pile of flesh
And then your heart, heart pounds
Till it pumps in death
Prime directive, exterminate
Whatever stands left
Thrash metal begins to rear its head on the next year's Earth AD/Wolf's Blood. By the time a single, Die Die My Darling was issued, they'd split up - its title taken from the American moniker of 1965's Fanatic.

Dead-end girl for a dead-end guy
Don't try to be a baby
Now your life drains on the floor

Don't try to be a baby
Die, die, die my darling
Don't utter a single word
Die, die, die my darling

Just shut your pretty mouth
I'll be seeing you again
I'll be seeing you in hell.....
Long time Misfits fans Metallica would later cover it on their Garage Inc album, disc two's remaster of the earlier Garage Days Revisited also containing their medley of Last Caress/Green Hell as first recorded in 1987. It would seem late bassist Cliff Burton, who had a Crimson Ghost tattoo, turned them on to a little horror! Danzig later became friends with him & frontman James Hetfield....
"I first met them at a Black Flag gig, and then we became kinda friends. We'd often bump into each other on the road...James and Cliff helped to spread the word about me, and I was very grateful to them."
Perhaps in a sense the Misfits would then go on to show what they'd learned from them in turn following a 1995 Jerry-led reformation, American Psycho & Famous Monsters showing off a heavier sound with new singer Michale Graves replacing Danzig.

It was back to punk, though, by 2003, Only handling the vocals with Marky Ramone coming in on drums & Black Flag's Dez Cadena tackling guitars on Project 1950 as they sought to put their own stamp on rock & roll classics from Great Balls Of Fire to the Monster Mash, drummer Robo also once more borrowed from the Black Flag ranks after Ramone's departure also having played on Night Of The Living Dead, Earth AD, & Die, Die My Darling among other early cuts.

Within two years the Nutley Brass would pay unique tribute to the earlier Misfits with Fiend Club Lounge, a relaxing set of rearrangements of their classic punk era work in lounge fashion, as you do....things coming full circle as the majority of that line up would later put aside differences for a resurrection as the Original Misfits which continues apace up to this point.

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