Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Frankie Stein and his Ghouls - Monster Melodies
artworkI often find myself in disbelief that adults could spend expensive studio time with highly paid and mature studio musicians recording such childish crap. OK, I'll try to drop the positive spin and tell you what I really think. DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME, unless gimmicky novelty records are your thing.

READ ON AT YOUR OWN PERIL!
Picks: The Creep, Be Careful It's My Throat, Dreamin' and Screamin', Chills, Dance Of Doom, Mummy's Little Monster, Kiss Of Death, Bat and Cat, Saturday Evening Ghost, In A Groovy Grave, Frog Frug, Melancholy Monster, Ghoulish Heart, All Choked Up, Swingin' Head, Ain't Got No Body, What Kind Of Ghoul Am I, Mummy's Little Boy, Good Nose, The Wrist Twist, Elbow Twist, Fly Me To The Goon, Chained, Monster Motion, Who's Afraid Of Weerdo Wolf, Horror Staccato, Doom At Midnight, Stoned, Doomsday, Weerdo The Wolf, Goon River

Track by Track Review


The Creep dotdotdot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

Amid numb-minded laughs and screams, a surf jam plays out above fifties rock drums. A long way from cool, but not entirely dismissible. "The Creep" is not really melodic, but it does sport energy and a certain attraction.

Be Careful It's My Throat dot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

Based largely on the rhythm and main riff from Ray Barretto's "El Watusi," "Be Careful It's My Throat " is saxed out with a kind of noodle lead line. It's perhaps more fun than one might expect, but it doesn't rise above the gimmick.

Dreamin' and Screamin'
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

Semi-surf guitar (reverbed but not at all surf style) plays a long with fifties sax. If not for the gimmicky Theremin, there would be nothing here at all. Truly useless.

Chills
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

Echoed footsteps and a scream, then an all too familiar riff. "Chills" never gets beyond the absurd.

Dance Of Doom dotdotdot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

"Dance Of Doom" almost rates... The tribal drums are very cool, and the thunder they create nearly rises above the stupid groans. The sax is even tolerable, at least until it simulates gurgling and horse whinnies. A couple of reverb crashes and what could have been done like a thundering Sandy Nelson instro just barely make the cut.

Mummy's Little Monster dot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

A reverb crash launches a derivative melody that's just a couple of inches from "Breakin' Rocks on the Chain Gang." Then, there are those juvenile flourishes from the Theremin.

Kiss Of Death dotdot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

Aside from the annoying screams and whistles and noises, "Kiss Of Death" is a pleasant slow-dance number with tasteful guitar that's somewhere between Richie Podolor and Duane Eddy soundwise. Is it Joe South?

Bat and Cat
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

A dumb minimal progression and stupid whistling, sad sax, and cheesy organ. Dreadful would be an improvement.

Saturday Evening Ghost dot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

Cleverly titled, with ghoulish cries and awful screaming. If not for the effects, this would be just a run of the mill loser.

In A Groovy Grave dot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

A scream opens to demented noises. The song is a simple melody that's tamely done. Without the added noise, "In A Groovy Grave" might be a forgettable two-star studio jam.

Frog Frug dotdotdot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

Jaws harp drones and wiggle incessantly, creating an edgy weirdness over a two-chord pattern ("Stringer Than Dirt"), augmented with harmonica that's a cross between British Invasion and psych. It's funny, but this ends up being an interesting sidetrip for a psych set.

Melancholy Monster dot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

A generic blues jam runs under silly noises and fake eeriness. Never mind.

Ghoulish Heart dot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

Bluesy harmonica leads what could be used as a bumper, but doesn't hold up on its own due to a general lack of melody, and the there are those dumb voicings and cheek-pops.

All Choked Up dot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

This very fifties b-side sounding thing (aside from using part of Larry Williams' "Slow Down") is just not engaging at all. Destination nowhere, spiced with silliness.

Swingin' Head dot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

Buried in the mash of fifties sax and studio uncoolness is a weak surf guitar. Aside from that, there's nothing to capture you.

Ain't Got No Body dot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

"Ain't Got No Body" starts out to be an OK fifties dance number, but then in come the sound effects to mess things up.

What Kind Of Ghoul Am I dotdot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

A classic blues riff grooves, and a fifties sax honks, the bass walks, and the drums thump. Of course, there are those horrid effects.

Mummy's Little Boy dot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

This is basically a liberal borrowing from "Night Train," and not a very strong one at that. Next.

Good Nose dotdot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

Influenced by sixties blues-psych and butchered with sound effects, this jam doesn't really do anything for me beyond the first verse.

The Wrist Twist dotdot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

The title might suggest something in the coolness category with the Fabulous Poodles' "Do The Wrist," but alas, it's not to be. Faceless jam with surf guitar and "Wipe Out" breaks. That penny whistle has to go!

Elbow Twist
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

Yuckie shouts and screams and fifties sax, with whistles and other nonsense trying desperately to make a mind numbing jam with occasional kettle drums interesting.

Fly Me To The Goon
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

The title might lead you expect something melodic like "Fly Me To The Moon," but alas it is not meant to be. Chuck Berry chords pop up occasionally in this go-nowhere studio jam.

Chained
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

The backtrack is borrowed liberally from "Music To Watch Girls By," while the lead sax noodle about in search of a melody. Of course, there are the obligatory screams and ghoulie noises.

Monster Motion dot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

Bells peel the coming of midnight. The graveyard gives up a ghoulish scream. Too bad, because "Monster Motion" almost rises to the level of a song, or at least shows potential amid its limited riff rock basis.

Who's Afraid Of Weerdo Wolf dotdot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

Harmonica calls to the night in a strange convergence of British R&B, psych, and nonsense. Then, it's all messed up by those inane screams, a penny whistle, and a whacko jaws harp.

Horror Staccato dotdotdot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

Scream, vixen, scream. Fifties honkin' sax trying really hard to be meaningful. A surf guitar plays a riff that could be developed into a genuine surf instro, but in this limited arrangement, it struggles to get through the nonsense. Still, as songs go from this dreadful project, "Horror Staccato" is at the top of the heap (and I do mean heap!).

Doom At Midnight dotdot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

Marvin Gaye's "Can I Get A Witness" is ripped off for the backtrack. The sax lead does nothing for it, nor does the kettle drum or surf guitar. Quite sad.

Stoned dotdot
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

Some decent surf guitar reverbs away under cheesy sax in an uninspiring progression pumped up with occasional kettle drums.

Doomsday
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

A late night blues with harmonica and guitar noodling is seeking but never finding a song. Jam yes, song no.

Weerdo The Wolf
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

The organ whirls, the wolf howls, and we wait for something to happen. Harmonica fake psych.

Goon River
Studio Gimmick Surf (Instrumental)

Sax wailing and organ swirling and penny whistle display a complete lack of direction.