There is really only one place to be every Halloween and that is wherever Jonathan Toubin tells you to be. This year he’s throwing his 13th Haunted Hop at the Knockdown Center. It’s in all honesty the only way you can ensure your money will be well spent. Rooms on rooms and endless music.
For the last 9 years Toubin has also been creating annual Halloween mixes (which you can check out here). This year he’s giving us some insight into his mammoth knowledge of records and music and insight into how he creates the mixes.
I started New York Night Train on Halloween 2005 as a web site with an oral history of Kid Congo Powers’ and a record label releasing his music. So Halloween is always my NYNT anniversary. By late 2006, when I started DJing and putting on New York Night Train parties and shows, I did the first ever Haunted Hop at Tonic with DC’s Ian Svenonius and New Orleans’ MC Trachiotomy and Microshards. The party was a small success (maybe 100 people at best, but fun!) and every year it kept growing and now over 2000 people come out to play at my NY Night Train Haunted Hop at Knockdown Center. And this year, my dream Halloween act, 13th Floor Elevators’ legendary and amazing Roky Erickson, plays live at the party. The Night of The Vampire with Roky Erickson! What more could I possibly ask for from this life?
In addition to DJing dozens of Halloween parties around the USA, I’ve also managed to deliver a mix each of the last nine years. Though I find Halloween records on a regular basis, now that I’ve put 225 songs on these mixes, I’m annually afraid of running out of material that works, or even worse, scraping the bottom of the barrel. But each time I dig around my record room I wind up with more useable records than I need and make it through with a much better mix than I initially feared. I also get excited to learn about the history and cultural circumstances of the records and love to spend time figuring out ways to fit them together. Below is a list of the 26 songs you’ll hear on this year’s mix and a description of each. I hope that you once again make this mix the soundtrack to your Halloween party season! I also wanna see you dancing to my haunted hits under the Knockdown Center’s huge disco ball on October 31 immediately following Roky Erickson…
1. Dr Shock “Eat Your Heart Out Baby” (Black Blue, 1973) Joseph Zawislakhad been an amateur magician, butcher, insurance salesman, pinball arcade manager, and gas cylinder truck driver when he found local fame in Philadelphia as a Zacherle-influenced horror host name Dr. Shock in the 1970s. Like a number of other regional hosts, he also made a number of idiosyncratic low-budget Halloween records. This monster party track is the B-Side to “Frankenstein Is A Soul Brother.”
2. Larry and The Blue Notes “Night of the Phantom” (20thCentury Fox, 1965) Along with so many of my all-time favorites, I learned this Fort Worth garage punk classic from Tim Warren’s earth-shattering and still essential Crypt Records “Back From The Grave” compilation series – in this case the iconic Vol 1. This is another winner produced by Texas music legend Major Bill Smith, who recorded regional hits that went global like “Hey Baby,” “Hey Paula,” and “Last Kiss” and ran prolific labels like LeCam and Charay. “Night of The Phantom” was initially written and recorded as “Night of the Sadist” but Smith changed “Sadist” to “Phantom” to get a better shot at airplay.
3. Muleskinners “Wolfman” (Soma, 1964) Muleskinners “Wolfman” (Soma, 1964) Milwaukee’s Fendermen, who had a huge international hit a few years earlier updating Jimmy Rodgers’ “Mule Skinner Blues,” appear under The Muleskinners pseudonym to tell the story of the captain of the high school football team going werewolf and howlin’ up a storm.
4. Johnny Lion “Haunted Heart” (Coed, 1959) Boss rockabilly on Gary Paxton and Martin Cane’s Coed Records.
5. Bobby Bare “Vampira” (Jackpot, 1958) One of country legend Bobby Bare’s first and rarest recordings, this swinging horror-shaker is inspired by Los Angeles horror show hostess / “Plan 9 From Outer Space” actress Vampira (Maila Nurmi).
6. Tiny Topsy “You Shocked Me” (Federal, 1958) An all-time champion belter finally getter her due in recent years, Tiny Topsy’s “You Shocked Me” is a bouncy party mover featuring the same super-smokin’ Cincinnati studio band heard on James Brown’s “Please Please Please,” Little Willie John’s “Fever,” and so many King/Federal classics.
7. The Daylighters “Madhouse Jump” (Bea & Baby, 1959) Best known for their soul era work like 60s Soul Clap classics “Oh Mom (Teach Me How To Uncle Willie)” and “Cool Breeze,” The Daylighters were initially a fiery r&b group from Birmingham, Alabama. In 1959 they wound up in Chicago to record their action-packed debut “Madhouse Jump” for the killer diller Bea & Baby imprint.
8. Isaac Rother and the Phantoms (Mock, 2015) The only contemporary record on this mix is by my main man Isaac Rother and his fabulous Phantoms. Dig ‘em tearing their way through Little Richard’s 1958 voodoo screamer with gusto!
9. Johnny C and the Blazes “Inferno” (Chattahoochee, 1963) One of hundreds of unique Kim Fowley-produced joints, this dynamic Chattahoochee instrumental can be found in print today on Norton Records’ “One Man’s Garbage” Fowley comp.
10. Eddie Perrell “Hex” (Shurfine, 1966) Eddie Perrell is a top-notch soul man from Chicago famous for his Volt dancer “The Spoiler” (as Eddie Purrell) and “Sho-Nuff” – which Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z brought into into public consciousness when they sampled it on “Suit and Tie.” “Hex,” a heavy voodoo soul screamer on one of my favorite labels, is both his most obscure and best record.
11. Pete Martinez “Haunted House” (Towne House, 1964) An unknown artist on Sulfur Springs, Texas’ obscure Towne House imprint. Here our protagonist is frightened and walking through the woods on a dark stormy night, winds up in a haunted house. The ghosts are more than hospitable and invite him into a party where picks up the bass and jams with the monster band. He had so much fun that he comes back every dark stormy night to play music and hang out with his new friends….
12. Ray Columbus and the Art Collection “Kick Me” (Colstar, 1967) In 1966 New Zealand rocker Ray Columbus moved to San Francisco and enlisted locals The Newcastle Five (rechristened “The Art Collection) as his backing band. They cut this Freudian fuzz-bomb and longtime NY Night Train classic about a bad trip right on the eve of summer of love (the spring of hate?). Columbus then went back to New Zealand to become a popular musician, radio star, and TV star
13. The Shades featuring Lee Cook “Strollin’ After Dark” (Scottie, 1959) How cool! Now ya know where The Cramps got their immortal “I Was a Teenage Werewolf!” Check out my beat to hell copy of this post-“Rumble” Memphis masterpiece!
14. Merle Kilgore “Lover’s Hell” (Mercury, 1961) Known for co-writing “Ring of Fire” with June Carter, also penning other big hits like “The Folk Singer,” “Wolverton, Mountain,” and “Johnny Reb,” this Shreveport, Louisiana renaissance man was already an accomplished musician and DJ when he become the principal guitarist on the Louisiana Hayride in his teens, wound up a regular on The Grand Old Opry in the 1960s, and was in a slew of Hollywood movies. He not only knew Hank Williams from his youth but managed Hank Jr for decades. Here we find trapped in lover’s hell crooning a minor-key lament.
15. Salty Holmes “The Ghost Song” (Decca, 1954) Kentucky talking harp maestro Salty Holmes of the prolific swingin’ hillbilly string band Prairie Ramblers recorded the weirdest, creepiest, and oldest track on this mix.
16. Virgil Holmes “Ghost Train” (Atlantic, 1961) This rockabilly chugger’s been turning it on at my Halloween hoodangs for over a decade and reminds me of my best pal and old roommate Michael Gerner of Dallas Acid/Vietnam/etc. who’d turn this copy over and over and over on our home stereo.
17. The Fabulous Continentals “Breakin’ Up” (Rori, 1962) One of my favorite laughing tracks, this cracker is always a gas and appears on “Las Vegas Grind, Volume 3.” Let’s get giddy!
18. Little Esther “Mojo Hannah” (Atlantic, 1964) Little Esther’s first record on Atlantic. Bert Berns producing and Garry Sherman arranging the Atlantic House band while one of the best singers who ever walked the earth tears into a relentless take of Andre Williams’ black magic standard. I’ve turned this one dozens and dozens of times over the years and I wish I had more tracks like this one…. It just doesn’t get better.
19. Silas Pauling “That Old Black Magic” A frantic interpretation of the Harold Arlen / Johnny Mercer 1942 witchy standard by an unknown artist on an unknown label
20. Billy Hall “Oo Ga Booga Boo Boo” Billy Hall “Oo Ga Booga Boo Boo” (Glenn, 1962) Dug out from the stacks at my personal Mecca, Detroit’s Peoples Records! A monster party toe-tapper is the first country song I’ve ever put on a mix…. Oo ga Booga Boo Boo Orangutan Tang…
21. Count Down and the Moonsters “Hindu On A Honda” (Pocono, ?) Everything its name implies and more. Count Down is a vampire rushing back home to the vault before dawn after a surfing trip. Perfectly stupid and addictive….
22. The Twisters (Bobby Smith Combo) “Run Little Sheba” (Gemini, ?) Another creepy track with mysterious origins and one of the few records on the cool little label that released the original Terry Teen Halloween classic “The Hearse”. Dig the heavy-duty combo in the back absolutely turning this arrangement inside out!
23. Bobby Darin “Similau” (Atlantic, 1964) From San Francisco vinyl paradise Rooky Ricardo’s Records at the recommendation of one the savvy owner Dick Vivian. If you ever doubted Bobby Darin’s talent, check how he flawlessly and so soulfully handles this Peggy Lee exotic standard. And how far he takes it in so little time.
24. Toalson Sisters “Mau Mau Mambo” (S.I.N.A. Society For Indencency To Naked Animals, 1959) Society for Indecency To Naked Animals, or. S.I.N.C., a hoax moralist organization created by comedian Alan Abel in 1959, was on a mission to clothe naked animals. Their motto was “A nude horse is a rude horse!” The organization was taken so seriously that both Walter Cronkite and Time Magazine had to publicly expose it as a fraud a few years later. “Mau Mau Mambo,” by a vocal trio of Aldrich, Missouri teen sisters locally known for winning a county talent show, is a harmony chant on top of a mambo beat and a real trip. What’s mysterious is how these small town Midwestern high school girls’ only release was also the lone record on this New York hoax’s record label.
25. Ella Washington “Nightmare” (Octavia, 1966) Miami supreme soul singer Ella “He Called Me Baby” Washington’s first record! Clarence Reid co-writing credit.
26. The Nightmares “Nightmare! (Fredlo, 1960) The credits roll to the B-Side to The Nightmares’ rockin surf instrumental “Greyhound.” Ghostly reverb-drenched spooking swangin’ of the first order! On Davenport, Iowa’s cool Fredlo imprint!
Details on New York Night Train’s 13th Annual Haunted Hop below! Buy your ticket here.