Although I ended my contribution to the 2008 Halloween countdown with a cover of a Frank Zappa song, it hadn’t dawned on me how appropriate it was to do so until now. At the time, I just wanted to use it since I’m a Zappa fan and wanted a video that ended with someone saying “Happy Halloween.” But now that I think about it, the choice was doubly appropriate, as Zappa was known for his yearly Halloween concerts and the mask-wearing musician with a KFC bucket on his head would have undoubtedly appealed to FZ’s love of the bizarre.
In fact, that love of his resulted in the creation of “Cheepnis.” The song is a loving tribute to the low budget monster movies, with a title which both refers to the budgets of many such films and his name for the cucumber-looking monster from It Conquered the World (said creature was dubbed “Beulah” by its creator, Paul Blaisdell). It was also this love of both monster flicks and general weirdness that led to him trying to make a musical tribute film about a giant spider with Best Brains, the company behind Mystery Science Theater 3000. Apparently, Mr. Zappa was so impressed by the weirdness of a particular sketch he had stumbled across that he immediately contacted the company. Despite the Brains being big FZ fans, the project was sadly never realized (although I seem to recall that the songs prepared for it were eventually released).
Since GdL shares that love, I thought I’d post a video of the song itself. Like last year, it’s a cover, but it isn’t an ordinary cover song; it’s done by Frank’s eldest son Dweezil and some of FZ’s old friends/band mates. So, thanks to zappaplayszappadvd, here’s a little “Cheepnis” for you all:
My other reason for posting this is that I wanted to pay tribute to another band known for Halloween concerts and for a love of the bizarre: Oingo Boingo. I only got into them fairly recently, but here’s what I know: Originally founded as “The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo” by Danny Elfman (yes, that Danny Elfman) in 1972, the band eventually changed their musical style and shortened their name (along with band size) in the 1980’s. After many hits and membership changes (along with a brief change of name to “Boingo”), the band left the music world after a “Farewell” concert held on October 31st, 1995.
Here’s a homemade music video for “Dead Man’s Party” (the song that first got me into Boingo), created and uploaded by vash81888:
I don’t know if Oingo Boingo ever tried doing a concert with Frank Zappa, but I doubt it. It’s a shame, as I think they’d both appreciate each other’s love of the weird. Boingo’s cult film Forbidden Zone would definitely be up FZ’s alley. But since Zappa passed away in 1993 and Oingo Boingo probably won’t ever reunite officially due to Danny Elfman’s concern over hearing loss, such a team-up can only exist in our minds. To aid in the process, here are some quick Halloween-themed song lists I came up with for each band (in no particular order):
The Torture Never Stops
Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance
Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch
As Zappa often did numerous versions of each of his songs, I’m going to recommend my favorite versions to you (with the exception of “Cheepnis” since I’ve only heard the “Zappa Plays Zappa” version). I enjoy the live version of “Zomby Woof” and original version of “The Torture Never Stops” from Cheap Thrills, the You Are What You Is version of “Goblin Girl,” the You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Volume 3 version of “Drowning Witch” and the You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Volume 6 variant of “Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance.” I know that last one might seem like an unusual choice for a Halloween tune, but I’ve always felt that particular version of the song has a “harvest dance” quality to it.
Dead Man’s Party
Heard Somebody Cry
As I’m a bit of a Boingo newbie, I can’t really make any recommendations on any song versions. I do know that their Dead Man’s Party album has all three songs on it, but I’ve heard that they might use a different version of “Weird Science” than the one heard in the film. Oh, and “Heard Somebody Cry” totally needs to be the theme for a Ghost Hunters parody.
Now that I think about it, we’ve been making an awful lot of music recommendations this year. Maybe Gravedigger’s Local 16 could make a Halloween song list for the next countdown. In the mean time, be sure to keep visiting the site come November.