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DJ: Hello welcome to another round of Feel Me Flow! With the news of George A. Romero’s passing, we decided it’d be best to honor the film legend with an episode on the genre he practically invented; Zombies.
Zombies were originally a part of Haitian folklore and were less about eating brains and more about being under the control of voodoo. The concept of living dead has been traced back the Epic of Gilgamesh, even presenting itself in the form of the Monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. George A. Romero started reading the EC Comics such as Tales From The Crypt, Weird Science, and Vault Of Horror in the 1950s, along with novels like I Am Legend. Taking cues from the film adaptation of it, The Last Man On Earth, along with mixing in the cannibalistic culture of ghouls, George would conceive a new type of “zombie”. The monster in his debut flick would be a flesh-eating, undead creature, hungry for live humans. Romero would go on to make six Living Dead movies, with his final directorial credit going to 2009’s Survival Of The Living Dead. George also played a role in all of his Living Dead movies with the exception of Survival Of The Living Dead. In honor of this tremendous legacy, we are going to dig into the world of the undead. We’ll be playing songs about zombies, zombie dancing, a set on voodoo, the living dead, and get paid a visit by music’s number one zombie culture fan; Robert Cummings (aka Rob Zombie).
Starting off our show is Tom Petty with his track “Zombie Zoo”. Notice how the keyboards have such a “horror film” sound to them…
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DJ: The Zombies’ Odyssey And Oracle is their second album, and came out in 1968. Rod Argent wrote “Care Of Cell 44” as a love letter written from prison. That dynamic just appealed to his intrigue. The album would go on to feature perhaps The Zombies’ most recognizable tune “Time Of The Season”.
Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong’s Hellcat Records would sign The Horrorpops after hearing their demos in 2003. The Danish psychobilly band is fronted by Patricia Day, the wife of Nekromantix lead Kim Nekroman; yet another Danish psychobilly outfit. Patricia’s style mimics the playing of her husband, who builds her custom upright basses. The Horrorpops and Nekromantix take big cues from The Cramps, delving into dark, demon culture, vampires, and monsters, and the aesthetic of the 1950s.
The Cramps were one of the first psychobilly acts to emerge from the depths of garage rock. Though they claimed to play psychobilly and rockabilly voodoo, they were more about the aesthetic than the true psychobilly style which is exemplified by Nekromantix and Horrorpops.
Roky Erickson began fading away from The 13th Floor Elevators after he began speaking gibberish at a shoe in 1968. Being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, Erickson was sent to receive shock treatment at a Houston psychiatric hospital after the incident. A short time later in 1969, Roky would be arrested for possession of a single marijuana joint and sent to Rusk State Hospital in Texas where he received more electroconvulsive therapy and Thorazine treatment. Talk about destroying a human. If you haven’t seen his rock doc, You’re Gonna Miss Me, I’d highly recommend it. What a terribly sad story!
Let’s begin our next set with a track off the Stubbs: The Zombie soundtrack. Here’s Phantom Planet doing “The Living Dead”.
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DJ: Arish Ahmad Khan has multiple projects under the pseudonym, King Khan. The King Khan & BBQ Show, King Khan & The Shrines, the soul solo King Khan releases, and an amazing collaboration with The Black Lips called The Almighty Defenders round up the more known projects. Khan released a soul single “Children Of The World” last year, and we played “Zombies from the KK&BBQ Show LP What’s For Dinner?.
Seattle surf goths Kreeps contributed a few tracks on the soundtrack to Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare. Meanwhile, we chose “Dead Man Walking” from that same soundtrack. The massively successful Red Dead Redemption sought out to capitalize on the “zombie” craze that flooded first person shooters in the early 2010’s and released an accompanying soundtrack on vinyl as well; capitalizing on the resurgence of records.
The Dickies released Dawn Of The Dickies in 1979, right after Romero released Dawn Of The Dead. As an homage to George, they titled the album as such, and the cover featured the band being attacked by “zombies” with blue skin. We heard “Infidel Zombie” from that LP.
The Dickies would surely have some sort of influence on Rancid’s Lars Frederiksen. Lars joined Rancid in 1993 and helped the band create a more full sound. For his first solo album in 2001 as Lars Frederiksen & The Bastards, Lars had help from Tim Armstrong and played covers of Billy Bragg and Motörhead songs (although the Motörhead song was actually a cover of a Holland-Dozier-Holland track by Eddie Holland). We took “Army Of Zombies” from that self-titled Bastards debut.
Alright, let’s jump into our voodoo set now, starting with Ween‘s big single, “Voodoo Lady”. Ween’s 1994 album Chocolate And Cheese would go on to be their most successful to date, with “Voodoo Lady” being used in films like Road Trip and Dude, Where’s My Car?. Boogie-oogie-oogie-oogie…
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DJ: Winding down our voodoo set is the classic guitar rock anthem “Voodoo Child (Slight Return) from Jimi Hendrix. Jimi actually took big cues from Miles Davis and the free-jazz world for his album Electric Ladyland. You can hear Miles behind us now. Jimi wanted to move his music into more of a jazzy electric guitar sound, as is heard on many of his later recordings but died before he could fulfill the journey to that sound.
Neo-psych band Allah-Las formed while three of the members were working at Amoeba Music in L.A. The band sounds similar to the psychedelic sounds of The Zombies and The 13th Floor Elevators. Nick Waterhouse produced many of their first singles.
The Neville Brothers, featuring Aaron, hail from New Orleans and play a Cajun/Creole style of R&B/Soul much like Dr. John. On their 1989 LP Yellow Moon, the group covered two Dylan songs, as well as won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance on “Healing Chant”. Copping a bassline similar to Loggins & Messina’s “Angry Eyes”, the track “Voodoo” played before Allah-Las.
Fellow Louisianan Tony Joe White tasted success with his 1968 hit “Polk Salad Annie“, especially after Elvis began covering it at shows. A swamp rock pioneer himself, Tony Joe continues to tour to this day; including a Foo Fighters-backed performance of “Polk Salad Annie” on David Letterman in 2014. Tony’s fourth LP was self-titled and released in 1971. We played the final track “Voodoo Village” from that album.
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DJ: I didn’t understand one word of that, but it sure was beautiful. Google Translate mentioned something about microwave yankees, but who can really be sure? Mexican indie rocker León Larregui fronts the band Zoé and released his sophomore solo release Voluma last year. The album draws in spacious sounds and neo-psych vibes, along the lines of Twin Shadows or Wild Nothing.
Baby Bee did “Love Bug” from the soundtrack to The Walking Dead. The Houma, Louisiana duo of Joe and David Stark recorded their label debut EP The Shaker with Brendan O’Brien in 2012 and landed a spot on the AMC show’s official soundtrack.
The middle of the set featured one of the songs everyone expected to see on this list, “Zombie” by The Cranberries. The Limerick, Ireland group put out four demo EPs before landing a deal with their debut Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?. After an explosive debut album, the band released their sophomore LP No Need To Argue in 1994. While on tour supporting their debut, Dolores O’Riordan read the news of two young boys killed in bombings done by the IRA. Afterward, she penned “Zombie” to commemorate the boys.
We had a dual Set 4 Score this week with tracks from Day Wave and Diet Cig. First off, we had Jackson Phillips and his band Day Wave doing “Total Zombie” from 2015’s Headcase. Jackson fuels the group himself, bringing along musicians to support him during the tour. Day Wave released their latest album The Days We Had in May of this year.
After Jackson’s project, we heard New York act Diet Cig. The story goes that guitarist Alex Luciano was watching drummer Noah Bowman’s previous band playing a house party and stopped their performance to ask him for a cigarette, which he instead responded with by giving her a bottle of wine. After getting to know each other more, the two formed the band and began their music career. The track “Blob Zombie” comes from their debut album Swear I’m Good At This which was released this year.
Let’s now give George a nice scary shout out with The Misfits doing “Night Of The Living Dead”.
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DJ: Ryan effing Gosling. If you’re unaware of his venture into the music world, and no I’m not talking about La La Land, you should check out his project with buddy Zach Shields called Dead Man’s Bones. Built off of their love for the horror genre, Ryan and Zach recorded an album with the Silverlake Conservatory Children’s Choir (started by Flea) all about horror. There are no click tracks and no tracks that took more than three takes to record. It’s raw, and spooky, and perfect.
Sydney, Australia’s Tropical Zombie played us “Laced In The Water”, the b-side to their 2014 release See It All. The band has yet to release an official album but is cranking out music nonetheless.
Sufjan Stevens played before the Aussie group, with one of the super lengthy titled tracks from his super lengthy titled album. The official titled of the track is “They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!” and the official album title is Sufjan Stevens Invites You To: Come On Feel the Illinoise. Not a mouthful at all.
The Flesh Eaters followed up The Misfits with “Eyes Without A Face”. The track comes from their fourth album, 1983’s A Hard Road To Follow. It was also featured on the very punky soundtrack to The Return Of The Living Dead. Flesh Eaters, living dead, I see what’s going on here.
We’re gonna play a deep track from the UK now. From the 1984 Rot Records compilation, Two Ninety Nine here’s Sick Vicars with “Zombie Nation”.
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DJ: Did you really think you’d get through a George Romero tribute without hearing Rob Zombie?! Regardless of your taste in music, it was pretty much inevitable. Rob capped off our show with “Living Dead Girl” from his 1998 LP Hellbilly Deluxe. Zombie would honor Romero and take a break from music to pursue his love of film. Rob has directed six major films, including his debut House Of 1000 Corpses, one of the best of the genre.
Speaking of film crossovers, before Rob we heard former actor Donald Glover as his alter-ego musician Childish Gambino. Glover has rapped since his days of being a writer for 30 Rock. With his popularity growing and more access to tools, he would release his first official album in 2011. His latest, Awaken, My Love! in 2016 to massive critical acclaim. We played “Zombies” from that release.
Harry Belafonte gave us his version of the traditional cut “Zombie Jamboree (Back To Back)”. The track comes from his 1962 album The Many Moods Of Belafonte.
We mentioned Tim Armstrong twice prior to hearing him play in this set. First, we mentioned his label signing The Horrorpops, and second with his collaborative help on Lars Frederiksen’s first album. Tim’s first solo album was a ska/reggae soaked sunshine fest, with his roots showing in full force. Tim played us “Among The Dead” from that debut.
Alright, you shuffle-footers, it’s time to wander out of here and find some high ground. Cheers and rest in peace to Mr. George A. Romero, and thank you for your huge contribution to the world! Join us next time on Feel Me Flow!