Various – Dead! – The Grim Reaper’s Greatest Hits


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Hello Vault-lovers! Greetings Crypt-kickers! Here at Ace Towers we are not above letting down our hair and having a little fun from time to time. A lot of the music we dig up in our specialist fields is of a strictly quirky nature. Whatever genre one digs down into one finds little gems that don’t fit in anywhere too tidily. Or they are just downright weird. And when things get that strange, well … we get interested. In this tradition we have brought up “The Golden Age Of American Rock’n’Roll Special Novelty Edition” (CDCHD 980), “Great Googa Mooga” (CDCHD 880), and last Halloween “These Ghoulish Things” (CDCHD 1070) and now we present “DEAD!”, a compilation that would speak for itself … if it could. This collection brings the fan-addict who likes his (hers? its??) black humour on the lighter side, the first of a planned two-volume set of “Death Discs” from the classic era of the late 50s through to the end of the 60s. Included are lively hits like Terry by Twinkle and Give Us Your Blessings by the Shangri-Las, both of which straddle the Death Disc and Girl Group genres. The Joe Meek production Johnny Remember Me shares digital space with Tell Laura I Love Her. The hit-makers on this set also include the Everly Brothers, Jan & Dean and Bob Luman. In fact, the compilation is so radio-friendly that it’s almost impossible to believe that most of the tracks were banned during the less-enlightened time of their release! On top of this two of the selections once appeared on Kenny Everett’s 1978 vomit-coloured vinyl album, “The World’s Worst Record Show”. This deadly duo consists of Jimmy Cross, who Wants [His] Baby Back and Ferlin Husky, telling us about The Drunken Driver. Earthy followers of the obscure will be delighted to know we have included quite a few little-known stiffs who will delight and who very rarely share the same digital plot. May we present DEAD!, our title track by the soul-full Carolyn Sullivan; Last Kiss by J Frank Wilson (that’s two from the cauldron of Major Bill Smith); the morality tale of Once You Understand by Think; and the rarely heard Mother Mother (I Feel Sick) by the Martin Sisters. To keep Terry company we bring you the Goodees with the favourite Condition Red, another biker tragedy which just goes to show that rockers usually came off worse than mods. We’re savouring Leader Of The Pack until volume two, as there are just so many “goodies” on this one. Walter Jackson brings a little more adult theatre as he tells his tale of woe while chewing rather too many night-night pills, while Jody Reynolds sings of a slightly different Endless Sleep. Donald Woods & The Vel-Aires challenge us with the theory that angels can die, while Jack Kittel pleads with his mother to keep him away from the kitchen knives, he’s already squeezed the life out of his brother’s pup. Teen Angel might have started the whole “Death Disc” brouhaha in 1960 … it’s here. As is the uncensored US version of Patches, where the hapless maid from across the muddy river doesn’t quite get across it. And, my dears, what do you think about an instrumental “Death Disc”? Yep, we got that too. And on that happy note, we hope you enjoy this walk on the dark side; this dig into to the vaults; this veritable resurrection of fun-filled paeans to the departed. Apart from the qualms of either the FBI, various senate committees or cuddly old Aunty Beeb, there has always been an interest in the macabre in rock ‘n’ roll, and when all is said and done … you gotta laugh.   -  By the very pale Brian Nevill 

Track Listing:
1. Terry - Twinkle – 3:08   2. Give Us Your Blessings - The Shangri-Las - 3:14   3. Endless Sleep - Jody Reynolds - 2:20   4. Death of an Angel - Donald Woods - 3:08   5. Condition Red - The Goodees - 2:53   6. I Want My Baby Back - Jimmy Cross - 3:23   7. Dead Man's Curve - Jan & Dean - 2:29   8. The Drunken Driver - Ferlin Husky - 2:29   9. Johnny Remember Me - John Leyton - 2:38   10. Last Kiss - J. Frank Wilson & The Cavvaliers - 2:26   11. Patches - Dickey Lee - 3:02   12. Once You Understand - Think - 3:54   13. The Death of a Surfer - The Riviares - 2:34   14. Dead! - Carolyn Sullivan - 2:45   15. Psycho - Jack Kittel - 3:38   16. Ebony Eyes - The Everly Brothers - 3:07   17. Requiem (For a Girl Born of the Wrong Times) - Betty Barnes - 2:59   18. A Beginning from an End - Jan & Dean - 2:59   19. Tell Laura I Love Her - Ray Peterson - 2:56   20. The Dream - The Fox - 3:30   21. Teen Angel - Mark Dinning - 2:40   22. Mother Mother (I Feel Sick) - The Martin Sisters - 2:03   23. The Bed - Walter Jackson - 3:40   24. Let's Think About Living - Bob Luman - 2:02 


1. AllMusic - Jason Ankeny
Not to be confused with a best-of celebrating the career of Grim Reaper, the famously fugly hair metal band so memorably eviscerated by Beavis and Butthead, Dead! The Grim Reaper's Greatest Hits instead compiles 24 early rock & roll classics exploring/exploiting death. Cataloging biker tragedies (Twinkle's "Terry"), pill-popper overdoses (Walter Jackson's "The Bed"), and watery graves (the Rivaires' "Death of a Surfer"), the disc embraces mortality and music in all its forms, spanning from girl group pop to trucker country and proving as indiscriminate as death itself. Sometimes sappy (Mark Dinning's "Teen Angel"), sometimes electrifying (Jack Kittel's "Psycho"), and sometimes eerily portentous (Jan & Dean's "Dead Man's Curve"), Dead! is above all well executed (pun intended), boasting the encyclopedic scope and attention to detail for which Ace is famed. L'chaim!