I have trouble writing about Haunted George. I’ve been meaning to write about him for a while; years, even. I’ve started writing about him at least five times at different intervals over the past twenty-four months. It’s been hard to put the my experience to words; seeing “this is the scariest sounding record I’ve ever heard” doesn’t fully capture the afternoon I put Bone Hauler in and unknowingly went about cleaning my apartment. I had bought Bone Hauler off of John from the Crimson Ghosts. The CD came with a warning, but the sound of the music coming over the PA made it hard to really hear what John was saying. It came highly recommended but what it was, I didn’t know.
The sounds coming out the speaker when “Graves in the Desert” started were shocking. I hadn’t heard any of the one man bands whose recent revival back then was in full swing. Nor was I terribly familiar with the return to lo-fi recording that some were picking up on. Combining them both but adding his own sinister slant on the proceedings, Haunted George sound is that coming from a broken transistor radio recovered from an abandoned construction site, its grey plastic chipped and dusty, masking-tape holding the D-cell batteries in place. The sound of Bone Hauler isn’t clear. It’s pock-marked and ugly. It’s the sound of the desert, deadly to some, beautiful to others.
It seems wrong to call Haunted George the alter-ego of Steven Pallow, former member of the Beguiled and the Necessary Evils. Maybe the character is a conjured spirit that posses the body when needed. It’s creepier to think of it that way.
Compared to his later releases, Bone Hauler is simplistic in its song structure. It’s very much desert punk, with songs like “Depraved,” “Howlin’,” “What Kinda Tracks Are Those” being what the Ramones would be if instead of four boys from Queens, they were just one guy from Tempe, Arizona with a bad case of murderous dementia. Speaking of which, there’s plenty of death and evil on this album, with such dark gems as “Graves In The Desert” and “She Told Me Her Name Was Lisa.”
This is really one of the best albums you can pick up. How appropriate it is for Halloween is up to you – the music is scary in both atmosphere and in content, but Haunted George captures the attitude of the desert. If you’re celebrating in New England (p.s. Kilslug plays at Cinema Salem with a showing of Die! You Zombie Bastards on the 29th) then the sound of Haunted George might not work for you. Actually, no. It will. This music is evil.