4 out of 5
Label: Waxwork Records
Produced by: Thomas Dimuzio (vinyl master)
Having not seen the Rankin produced / Bass directed ‘Mad Monster Party,’ I can only go off of impressions: first, of the title of the movie itself – boogie-ing Frankensteins come to mind – and then Waxwork Records’ album artwork by Rich Kelly, which can only be true to the stop motion / marionette look of the film and Mad’s Jack Davis’ character designs, adding a particular 60s / 70s flair to that boogie. Reading some glowing liner notes by Andy Votel, who runs his own archival labels, this impression is enhanced: the movie is of the Rudolph lineage (perhaps obvious with Rankin and Bass attached), with a campy vibe befitting that Mad Magazine connection (Harvey Kurtzman was involved with the script) but endeared enough to its horror movie stars – Dracula, Wolfman, and the lot – to have inspired variations on the goofy horror comedy theme for years to come.
And then there’s the music. Which is glorious. Everything I could want and would have assumed from the above impressions is intact: monsters a-go-go, with a definite French vibe to its jigs, gloriously composed by Maury Laws to tip-toe through themes which instantly identify with haunted houses, and vampires, and moonlit nights and etcetera, The vocals are of the shimmy-shimmy 60s era but strike a nice tone which commits to the vibe without over-indulging – Ethel Ennis, Phyllis Diller; really getting into it! – and the lyrics are thankfully none too punny, telling their “stories” amusingly. The quality and energy of performance is maintained throughout, although the B-side of the album – the songs would seem to be chronological – dips slightly in its kookiness, with the tracks with vocals veering more toward showtune style, and a longer stretch in the middle which starts to feel more like a score – like background music – than monster mash jams.
Still, very entertaining, and based on the wikipedia description of the movie, I can understand Andy Votel’s adoration for it, with the overall fun, energized tone of the score certainly enhancing the wild sounding on-screen antics.