mystery ghouls

by Art Chantry:

another all time classic record cover – this time by one of my all-time favorite rock bands! frankie stein & his ghouls released 5 LP’s worth of material. i have them all, and they all have great cover designs like this. i have no idea who did any of them, either. this one is sort of special. i mean, look which finger that ghoul is using to gouge out his own eye!!! even back then, that would have been noticed. for an erstwhile ‘children’s party record’, you sorta get how twisted this stuff is immediately. if you don’t “GET” this cover, then you won’t “get” the music on the lp. ’nuff said.

— i didn’t know peter pan records owned power records. interesting. yeah, i’ve found several of those children’s ep’s with the frankie stein stuff on it (along with stuff by others folks, too.) apparently, there were some actual 45’s on the power label released to promote the ‘hit potential’ of the music back during the initial release. but, i’ve only seen these on some of those ‘where is frankie?’ websites out there. very rare.—AC

like i mentioned, this band is one of my all time favorites – right up there with the sonics, the stones, the who, the stooges, the dolls, the ramones, the pistols… you know, all the GOOD stuff. granted, it’s not as ‘hard’ as most of that music, but the ATTITUDE? well, it’s downright snarky. all the song titles on this one Lp have are names like “what kind of ghoul am i?”, “fly me to the goon”, “mummy’s little boy”, “a taste of poison”, and (my favorite frankie stein tune, “the elbow twist”. yes, these are party records. they sold them to children, supposedly. but the music is for adults. just to get the point across that these are FUN records, they list (right next to each song title) what sort of dance they are best to dance with – the frug, the twist, the hully-gully, the watusi, the jerk, etc. – all the good dances (no bad ones).

the music is all done in a sleazy ‘sax and guitar’ driven rock instro style (no vocals). these tunes rock and roll old school and are actually very GOOD. but, whoever frankie stein & his ghouls actually were, they decided to ‘pep the stuff up’ with howls and groans and screams and rattling chains and vampire talk and crashing noise. the sound effects guy must have had a heyday on this. no matter what style of rock-n-roll they use – surf, hot rod, twist, rockabilly, whatever – it all is peppered with sound effects straight off a ‘scary hairy sounds of halloween’ record. it’s great.

so, who were frankie stein & his ghouls? no one seems to know. several websites have popped up devoted to the search for frankie stein. many names are put forward and some even contacted (if they’re still alive. all these disks are from the mid-60’s). but, SOME info is gathered to move the search forward, only to stop DEAD once again (pun intended). bottom line is no one knows any more. they seemed to be studio musicians from the los angeles area (which was crammed with musicians during this period of time – the LA teen music scene was exploding then.) this band knew their instruments and how to use them. they also understood how to use a professional recording studio. beyond that, we just don’t know much of anything.

like i said, there were 5 full Lp’s produced (some with a few tunes lifted from previous records and given new titles – i presume to fill out a full Lp’s worth of time). all the lp’s had killer covers like this and were released inBOTH stereo & mono (mores desirable). the Lp titles:

– introducing frankie stein & his ghouls ( power records 339)
– shock! terror! fear! (power record 340)
– ghoul music (power records 340, again) pictured above.
– monster melodies (power records 341)
– monster sounds and dance music (power records 342).

some of this stuff has been re-issued on a compilation cd out there (or so i’ve been told). if you actually find these disks in playable condition (most of them looked they were actually danced ON), when you listen to them, you’ll hear that the actuall musicians seem to change personnel line-up over the time of all these recordings. but, the ‘spirit’ stays true to form. these are great records and i highly recommend them to everybody with taste as awful as my own….


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