This week’s selection from Eugene, Rob Zombie’s Hellbilly Deluxe, was a lot of fun. Unlike last week’s selection I had actually heard a couple of the tracks before, but much of the album was new to me and listening to it as a body of work really reveals how thematic it is. To help explain what I mean by that let’s start with the first paragraph from the Wikipedia page about the the album:
Hellbilly Deluxe (released with the subtitle 13 Tales of Cadaverous Cavorting Inside the Spookshow International) is the solo debut studio album by American musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie. The album serves as his first release outside out the band White Zombie, with whom he released two multi-platinum studio albums. Hellbilly Deluxe was released on August 25, 1998 through Geffen Records. Musically, the project portrays Zombie’s love for classic horror films with heavy metal and electronic music. The album’s lyrics speak of murder, chaos, and supernatural forces. The majority of Hellbilly Deluxe was recorded in California, and was produced by both Zombie and Scott Humphrey; Zombie is credited as the sole writer on all of the songs.
Listen to any of the thirteen tracks individually and you’ll get a taste of the “horror films with heavy metal” thing, but you really have to listen to the whole album to appreciate his true love of the horror genre. For instance the eleventh track, What Lurks on Channel X?, starts with a very 60’s TV horror show sound to it, and the twelfth track, Return of the Phantom Stranger, opens with the haunting, low sound of church bells. The album truly is an ode to the horror genre, so if you embrace that you can truly enjoy it for what it is.
Of the 13 tracks the two that are surely the most widely known – they have to be if I’ve heard them before – are Dragula and Living Dead Girl. Both are representative of the rest of the album’s tone, and I’d say there’s a good reason those are the best known tracks. To me they do the best job of highlighting Zombie’s unique style and have the strongest musicianship (is that a word?) on the album. I also liked Spookshow Baby because it has this funky sitar sound, and Meet the Creeper, which reminded me a bit of Living Dead Girl.
I’ll end with this: of Eugene’s five selections so far I’d say this is the one that really demands to be listened to as a full album. It’s truly thematic, and the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.
Links & Notes