Witch – “The Hex Is On” (1984)

The Hex Is On - Stock Photo Witch!  Now this is a fun EP!  It has five tracks.  It is sometimes referred to as an MLP or mini-LP instead of an EP.  Witch was very popular on the Southern California club scene in the mid-eighties.  Ultimately, Witch was never able to secure a record deal despite attracting interest from the likes of  Combat, Metal Blade, Capitol, and Atlantic.  The Hex Is On was self-released by the band (and their management) on their own label, O.T.T. Records.  In an attempt to attract major label attention, Witch released The Hex Is On on their own (O.T.T Records, no catalog number) in 1984.  It was a vinyl release only.  It was pressed on semi-transparent red vinyl.  This is the version I own (see photo below in the gallery section).  Axe Killer Records (France) released The Hex Is On (7004) in ’84 with a different cover (similar to the back cover of the O.T.T. Records version — but not the exact same photo).  It was pressed on opaque red and black vinyl.  The track order was different from the O.T.T. Records version, and the mastering was also different.  In 1985 a label called Heavy Metal America Records issued The Hex Is On (HMA SP37) in the U.K. with a slightly different cover photo than the O.T.T. Records version.  I am not aware of any official cassette or CD releases of The Hex Is On.  There is a CD bootleg version from ’93 on “Racer Records” called Hard n Heavy Rarities Vol. 10.  It is a split CD that also includes two other albums. Around 2007 or 2008, Old Metal Records released a Witch compilation on CD called Damnation that contained 20 tracks, included the entire The Hex Is On EP (catalog number OMR-43).  The version of The Hex Is On that appears on this CD is the Axe Killer Records version.  Although Old Metal Records released quite a few bootlegs, Witch approved the Damnation release and actively participated in putting the disc together.  Therefore, this particular Old Metal Records release has some degree of legitimacy.  Note: There is a phenomenal website called witchtheband.com that has tons of information and better pics for all the EP versions.  It includes pics I couldn’t find such as the back covers of the Axe Killer and Heavy Metal America EPs.  Also, everything you ever wanted to know about Witch is on this site, including a very detailed gig history!  It’s an awesome site and a fascinating read for those interested not only in Witch, but the Southern California music scene in the ’80s!  Trust me!

Gallery (click to enlarge):

Info Nuggets: Here are a just a few of the many interesting things I learned about The Hex Is On from the website witchtheband.com:

  • Though all three versions of The Hex Is On have a photo of a blonde model on the album jacket (the Axe Killer version has it on the back cover), the photos, though similar, are not exactly same.  This is also true for the band photo used on the three versions (Axe Killer has it on the front, the other two versions have it on the back).  Once again, the three photos, though similar, are not the same.  Confused?  I thought so.
  • After Witch completed The Hex Is On, their management took the EP to various record labels to try and get a record deal.  There was some interest.  However, Witch’s management botched the whole thing.  They turned down offers from Combat and Metal Blade because they were holding out for a bigger deal with a major label, Capitol.  The Capitol deal fell through.  After this, with bridges burned, Witch was forced to self-release The Hex Is On.
  • Apparently, The Hex Is On sold about 12,000 copies.
  • A sixth track called Blond Alert was recorded during The Hex Is On sessions but was ultimately left off the EP.
  • The O.T.T. Records version was marketed and distributed by Important Record Distributors.  Although (as mentioned above) the album did not have a proper O.T.T. catalog number, an Important Records catalog number (of sorts) was carved into the vinyl (‘IMP-001-A’ on Side-1 and ‘IMP-002-B’ on Side-2.

My Worthless Opinion: This EP is a little rough around the edges.  The drummer overplays a bit, and the choruses could use a little beefing up.  However, all in all, The Hex Is On is solid, consistent (not a bad track in the bunch), and a fun listen.  I find myself playing this way more than I probably should!  It’s all about the leather, the chains, and the ATTITUDE!  The girl on the cover is a nice touch too, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a little more junk in that trunk if you know what I mean!  My score: B

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