At some point during your hard rock and heavy metal collecting journey, you’re going to come across (the) Misfits. Whether it be because you’re a Danzig fan tracing back Glenn’s earlier works, or because you’ve heard Metallica or Guns N’ Roses cover old Misfits tunes, or just because you’ve seen people wearing Misfits t-shirts, you’re bound to have a “Misfits phase” in your metal life. Even though Misfits were a punk band, they still have an undeniable appeal that bleeds over to hard rock and metal fans.
The question then becomes where to start? The first thing you should know is that “no Glenn Danzig = no Misfits”. Everything released by a band that calls themselves Misfits and doesn’t include Danzig is not really Misfits. Glenn Danzig wrote all the stuff Misfits recorded from around ’77 until the time the band dissolved in ’83. That should have been the end of Misfits. But a band calling themselves Misfits started up again in the nineties. But there was no Danzig! That’s a problem! Why? Because no Danzig = no Misfits, remember? I haven’t heard any of these non-Danzig Misfits albums. They may be great. They may suck. I don’t know. I’m just saying they shouldn’t be called Misfits.
The second thing to take note of is that the Misfits discography is extremely hard to follow. A lot of their original material was released as 45 rpm singles, and there was also tons of stuff that didn’t see the light of day until after the band’s demise. So, it may not be so easy to figure out where the hell to start your Misfits record collection. This is one of those bands that is actually well served by a compilation record. A 1986 compilation simply called Misfits is a pretty good place to start.
Misfits contains twenty tracks that range in audio quality from barely acceptable to downright awful. The playing is sloppy and the songs are rudimentary. All this, mind you, is part of the Misfits mystique. Low-fi, low-budget, and lowbrow — that’s how Glenn and company got it done! It all seemed to fit nicely with the B-grade horror and science fiction that Danzig was mining for lyrical inspiration. Indeed, the best part of Misfits were Danzig’s irreverent and sometime comically obscene lyrics. It’s interesting to me how much (dark) humor there seems to be in the Misfits catalog because Glenn Danzig’s public persona in later years revealed him to be someone who was very sour, confrontational, and totally devoid of a sense of humor. But with the Misfits he delivered pearls like “the omelet of disease awaits your noon time meal” and “her mouth of germicide seducing all your glands”. And that’s just from one song!
Misfits was released on Glenn’s own Plan 9 Records (and distributed by Caroline Records). It features sing-along gems like Where Eagles Dare, Horror Business, and Bullet. Admittedly, the lousy audio quality sometimes gets in the way of a good time. For example, the song Night Of The Living Dead seems like it could be one of the album’s better songs if it didn’t sound like it was recorded from space.
For me, Misfits falls off a bit toward the end. The last five songs come from Misfit’s 1983 album Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood. These songs have a more hardcore punk sound that isn’t really as appealing as the catchy punk style of Misfits’ earlier work. One of the things that made Misfits so fun to listen to was Danzig’s great singing voice — so it doesn’t make sense when he simply shouts his way through these hardcore tunes. Nevertheless, Misfits is a great compilation — though its missing a few key tracks. I would love it if Attitude, Last Caress and Halloween were also included here. These tracks actually showed up on Caroline Records’ Misfits II disc released years later in 1995. It compliments this original Misfits comp quite nicely. You may want to make that your second Misfits purchase! My score: A-