Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Misfits - 12 Hits From Hell



The Misfits – 12 Hits From Hell

(soniclovenoize reconstruction)

Side A:
1.  Halloween
2.  Vampira
3.  I Turned Into a Martian
4.  Skulls
5.  London Dungeon
6.  Night of the Living Dead

Side B:
7.  Horror Hotel
8.  Ghoul’s Night Out
9.  Astro Zombies
10.  Where Eagles Dare
11.  Violent World
12.  Halloween II


This is a reconstruction of the unreleased 1980 debut album from The Misfits, 12 Hits From Hell, which was scrapped after guitarist Bobby Steele was replaced by Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein.  Some of the songs were instead released as 7” singles and the remaining tracks were used as a demo to secure a record deal and eventually re-recorded in 1982 as their seminal Walk Among Us.  Although 12 Hits From Hell was given a modern remix and remaster for a posthumous release in 2001, it was again vetoed and scrapped by vocalist Glenn Danzig and bassist Jerry Only because of errors in mastering, artwork and liner note credit.  This reconstruction ignores the posthumous 2001 remix and attempts to collect only authentic mixes to assemble how the album would have sounded in 1980.

Emerging as one of the first wave of hardcore punk acts in 1977 New Jersey, it took a few years and scrapped projects for The Misfits to find their sound.  Harnessing the new-found aggression of hardcore punk, the quartet recorded what was intended as their debut album, Static Age, in 1978.  Following a change in band lineup, image and lyrical subjects—embracing the themes and aesthetic of classic horror movies—the album was scrapped and The Misfits instead focused on touring and single releases.   By 1980, the lineup had solidified with guitarist Bobby Steel and drummer Arthur Googy, backing up Danzig and Only. 

Entering Master Sound Productions Studios on August 7th, 1980, the quartet recorded twelve songs meant to function as their debut album.  All the tracks were initially cut live in one take, except “London Dungeon”, which required two takes.  Unknown to Steele, Only had been grooming his little brother Doyle to replace Steele as guitarist, and Doyle was brought in for his own set of guitar overdubs.  The effect is unique in The Misfits body of work, as the album—provisionally titled 12 Hits From Hell—is the only release with two different guitarists.  The recordings were equal parts energetic and atmospheric and were never replicated later in their career.  The Caiafa Brothers (Jerry and Doyle) would have their way by October and Steele was ousted from the band, relegating the recordings to function as a demo tape to shop the band to prospective labels. 

Luckily the recordings were not left in the vault for long, as “London Dungeon”, “Horror Hotel” and “Ghouls Night Out” were all released on the abbreviated EP 3 Hits From Hell in April 1981, and “Halloween” and “Halloween II” were released as a 7” on Halloween 1981.  The session also did its job as a demo, securing the band a contract with Ruby Records that year and producing their ‘proper’ debut album Walk Among Us in 1982, which featured re-recorded versions of six of the remaining unreleased 12 Hits From Hell songs.  While The Misfits eventually disbanded in 1983, Danzig took the liberty to overdub and remix a number of unreleased tracks for the 1985 compilation Legacy of Brutality, which featured doctored mixes of “Where Eagles Dare” and “Halloween” as well as pillaged versions of some of the Static Age songs.  The original 1980 mixes of “Astro Zombies” “Night of the Living Dead”, “Skulls” and “Vampira” were released the following year on a self-titled compilation that was eventually known as Collection I, with “Halloween”, “Horror Hotel” and “Halloween II” released on the follow-up compilation Collection II in 1995.  Finally, all the aforementioned tracks as well as the original unreleased 1980 mixes of “I Turned Into a Martian”, “Violent World” and “Where Eagles Dare” were released on The Misfits Box Set in 1996. 

Interestingly enough, the scattered tracks found on the box set was not the last word on 12 Hits From Hell.  After the unreleased Static Age album had been successfully issued as a proper posthumous release in 1997, 12 Hits From Hell warranted the same treatment and was remixed from the mastertapes in 2001 for a tentative Halloween release on Caroline Records.  All twelve songs—as well as the alternate first take of “London Dungeon” as a bonus track—received a more spacious and wide-stereo mix, a very modern-sounding mix that was a sharp contrast to the tight and claustrophobic 1980 mixes.  After a number of promotional copies had been distributed to industry insiders, the album was cancelled, promo copies recalled and subsequently destroyed.  Why?  Both Danzig and Only—the two who retained the rights to the Misfits brand—claimed not only a “mastering error” but incorrect credits in the liner notes, as well as subpar packaging and cover design that didn't meet their standard.  On the other hand, former guitarist Bobby Steele had an opposing point of view: that the newly-remixed album was scrapped because of Danzig & Only’s egos, who wanted to erase his guitar parts that were featured prominently in the new mixes.  In a possible retaliation and absurd twist, Steele recorded his own version of the entire album with The Undead in 2007.  But putting aside petty squabbles, what did 12 Hits From Hell originally sound like?   

For my reconstruction, we will focus solely on the original 1980 mixes of 12 Hits From Hell, for better or for worse; while admittedly the 2001 remix sounds stunning, it is not what The Misfits sounded like in 1980.  Luckily all the (presumably) vintage mixes are found on the 1996 Box Set in their best mastering, making our task extremely easy!  The tracklist will follow the planned 2001 12 Hits remaster, as the CD itself followed Danzig’s own handwritten tracklist from 1980, written on MSP Studios stationary.  The final touch is a cover design that borrows from the 3 Hits From Hell EP, an art concept that is as vintage as possible (also included is alternate cover art designed by Jon Hunt of idesignalbumcovers).  So without further delay, put on your make-up… it’s time for an early Halloween! 




Sources used:
The Misfits - Box Set (1996 Caroline Records)

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR and Goldwave--> flac encoding via TLH lv8
*md5, artwork and tracknotes included

24 comments:

  1. The mp3 link is giving me a The Who album. D :

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  2. Thank you SO much for doing this Sonic! Listening to it now!! Love this so much!

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  3. I applaud both your hard work and the diversity of your musical tastes. I have enjoyed projects of yours ranging from the Velvets and Beefheart to the Clash and (now) the Misfits!

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  4. I applaud both your hard work and the diversity of your musical tastes. I have enjoyed projects of yours ranging from the Velvets and Beefheart to the Clash and (now) the Misfits!

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  5. Thanks for this, Sonic! If it wasn't for the gimmicky, horror lyrics, Misfits would easily be ranked amongst the "greats" like the Ramones, for example. They were very good at what they did until they imploded. Short songs or not, they're among the most infectious within the realm of punk rock. I'd take Misfits over most of the early punk bands.


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  6. I just found your blog last night and I'm hooked. Thank you so, so much for all the work you've put into these. There's some amazing stuff here. Not sure if anything can top the remixed 12 Hits IMO, but I'm looking forward to hearing what it might've been like in 1980 :)

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  7. I always wished that Elliott Smith's final album "From A Basement On A Hill" was released as he intended, as a double album like the White Album. Using the numerous outtakes and bootlegs of his work, could you make a proper double album release for it with songs like Abused and Suicide Machine?

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    1. That's a great idea, and From A Basement on a Hill is one of my all-time favorite albums. Unfortunately, my rule is I only reconstruct albums with lossless material, and afaik the Basement outtakes are out there only as low-quality mp3s. If you have them in lossless CD quality, let me know and I'd do Basement immediately!

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    2. I love that album too. Definitely in my top ten 0f the 2000s. Hopefully some lossless material will show up one day.

      My god, the chills that album sends up my spine..............and lots of personal debauchery/memories now tied to it.

      God Bless Elliott Smith.

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  8. Have you thought of perhaps working your magic on Neil Young's "Homegrown"?

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  9. Thank you very, very much as always, good sir...

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  10. Another great reconstruction. With the Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy hitting theaters, I was wondering if you think of taking on his lost album Sweet Insanity.

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  11. I've just discovered this blog and it's fantastic. I'm looking forward to picking up some of the downloads in the near future. You should tackle ELO's Secret Messages next and try to restore that to it's double album glory.

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  12. Looking forward to what comes next!

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  13. I am nearly two weeks late in updating the next reconstruction, due to work and being busy with my own music. I'll hopefully update it by months end (that gives me three days). It's a more contemporary album, one that no one would expect nor has ever been requested/mentioned before.

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  14. Could you possibly edit a version of The Wall with the original track listing on disc one.
    1. In The Flesh?
    2. The Thin Ice
    3. Another Brick In The Wall, Part 1
    4. The Happiest Days Of Our Lives
    5. Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2
    6. Mother
    7. Goodbye Blue Sky
    8. What Shall We Do Now?
    9. Young Lust
    10. One Of My Turns
    11. Don't Leave Me Now
    12. Empty Spaces
    13. Another Brick In The Wall (Part III)
    14. Goodbye Cruel World

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  15. Awesome blog! Loved the MARS VOLTA and have enjoyed every reconstruction you've done. I would love to see you tackle Judas Priest "Twin Turbos" . Thanks a ton.

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  16. Great job on this one, sonically flows well. Back in the pre-internet punk days there were rumours that Glenn wiped Bobby's parts and overdubbed his own!

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  17. Nearly perfect, except it's the wrong recording of Halloween. The '12 Hits' version is only on Legacy of Brutality or the New Wave Halloween compilation.

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    1. I'm not sure that's correct, actually. This reconstruction does use the wrong version, but I think (despite what the old misfits central database says), the NWH track is the same recording with another mix. The correct recording is only on the 12 hits (2001) CD, Legacy of Brutality, and the Necronomicon bootleg.

      The easiest way to distinguish them is that last almost growled singing of "halloween" as the song winds down. It's present on the single version, the box set, and this reconstruction. But it's missing in the 2001 12 hits and Legacy. Not sure which of those would be better to substitute in.

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    2. Forgot to state that the New Wave Halloween has those last lines match the single as well.

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    3. at that point it becomes obvious a truly faithful 12h reconstruction isn't really possible -- the 2001 cd is remixed/remastered, ditto to a lesser degree the lob version. your best bet is the necronomicon boot. however, it's so gnarled and of poor quality it's kind of a lost cause.

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