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Imprint: New Revolutions   June 28, 1996

Box Set (Caroline)
Reviewed by Sandy Atwal

   Taking their sound from the Ramones, their vocals from the
Damned, and their subject matter from B monster movies, New
Jersey's Misfits were certainly one of punk's most theatrical
   Although their cult following is huge, they never really
recieved the attention they deserved when they were releasing
material; which is a shame because the same sense or irony, anger
and energy found in the Pistols or the Ramones is equally
prominent in the Misfits' albums.
   Unfortunately, their confusing (and largely unavailable) back
catalogue has presented a serious impediment to potential fans.
Caroline has wisely rectified that problem with the release of a
box set consisting of basically everything the Misfits ever
   The box itself is probably the most beautifully designed
compilation I've ever seen. A coffin-shaped box (lined with red
velour, no less) and four uniquely designed jewel cases contain
six albums along with several EPs and singles. The requisite
booklet contains extensive liner notes by one-time 'Fits drummer
Eerie Von, lyrics, a discography and lots of colour photos.
   The package is perhaps a little too complete. At least ten
songs are represented in two different versions, and there three
versions of some songs, including "20 Eyes" and "Teenagers from
Mars," while "Night of the Living Dead" is repeated no less than
four times.
    While these inclusions are great for hardcore fans, the
differences between most of these versions are limited, making
the repitition unwarranted. But this is a minor complaint; too
much of a good thing never hurt anyone.
   Lead singer Glenn Danzig's post-Misfits metal material comes
off as pretentious doom and gloom stud posing because it lacks
any sense of humour. With the Misfits, however, Danzig could
indulge his fascination with all things horror-related and make
it work. Titles such as "Devilock," "Wolfsblood," "Demonomania,"
"Hate Breeders" and "Hellhound" simply refuse to be taken
   Songs such as "Return of the Fly" applied the same sense of
silliness to the bands lyrics. As Danzig sings in the
aforementioned song "Return of the Fly/Return of the Fly/With
Vincent Price/Yeah, Return of the Fly." Fast, fun and short --
just what punk should be.
   That being said, part of the Misfits' appeal is their ability
to meld the campy/Hollywood side of horror while at the same time
writing some truly disturbing lyrics. Danzig manages to attract
the listener in with his powerful voice and the band's punchy
hooks, but listen a little closer (or read the lyrics in the
booklet) and you'll see that rape and torture aren't uncommon
lyrical topics.
   The band's fascination with the macabre is helped out
immensely by Danzig's voice. Danzig is the exception to the
general rule that lead singers of punk bands just can't sing. On
songs such as "Last Caress" and Attitude" Danzig comes across as
nothing less than a cross between Joey Ramone and (dare I say
it?) Elvis Presley.
   It's impossible to deny the Ramones' influence on early
Misfits recordings. "Teenagers From Mars" is a classic tune built
squarely on the foundation of the Ramones' school of short,
simple, straight rock tunes.
   That's certainly not to say that the 'Fits sound didn't
change. By the time of their third and final album Earth A.D.
they had turned strictly hardcore. Although this can be seen as
demonstrating some versatility, Earth A.D. suffers from some
shoddy production and a muddier sound than their earlier
   As many hardcore albums are wont to do, the album also has a
tendency to run itself, with little difference discernable
between some tracks. (It should be noted that the exceptions,
such as the title tracks, are still excellent.) Running through
nine tracks in just under fifteen minutes (!) the band's final
album failed simply because it downplayed both Danzig's voice and
the band's ability to write good pop songs.
   Few box sets manage to be as comprehensive as they pretend to
be. However, Caroline has managed to do a near-flawless job of
detailing a band that made no small contribution to the American
punk scene.