The Misfits: 12 Hits (2001)
By: Devon B. on October 8, 2009  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Cover Art
Band Members: Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only, Bobby Steele, Arthur Googy
Label: Ruby Caroline Records
Country: USA
Track Listing
1. Halloween
2. Vampira
3. I Turned into a Martian
4. Skulls
5. London Dungeon
6. Night of the Living Dead
7. Horror Hotel
8. Ghouls Night Out
9. Astro Zombies
10. Where Eagles Dare
11. Violent World
12. Halloween II
13. London Dungeon (alternate)
After reading fellow DR scribe Mr Intolerance's review of The Misfits' Walk Among Us I did a bit of research on The Misfits, and found out there was an album of theirs I didn't have: 12 Hits From Hell. A quick perusal of the track listing reveals that all the songs are Misfits staples, so I was a bit confused. Here's the story…

In between Static Age and Walk Among Us, The Misfits recorded the songs that would've been 12 Hits From Hell. The band was at a transitional point where guitarist Bobby Steele (later of The Undead) was replaced by Jerry Only's younger brother Doyle. Doyle was being groomed for the band so he recorded additional guitar tracks for 12 Hits, but when Steele was ousted, the album got scrapped. Some (well three, actually) of the songs turned up on 3 Hits From Hell, and the Halloween single featured both Halloween and Halloween II. The remaining tracks were used as demos for Walk Among Us, which is why Walk Among Us and 12 Hits share so many songs. More of the 12 Hits recordings were released on the Misfits compilations, and the original mixes for seven of the songs turned up in the box set. So, there's not much on 12 Hits that the dedicated Misfits fan doesn't already have…

Ignoring that, in 2001 Caroline Records decided to release the 12 Hits album, with one bonus. During the mastering an alternate take of London Dungeon was found, so the album was going to have 13 songs. Bit odd given the title, but who would've wanted less Misfits? Anyway, the album got halted when Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only objected to the release. Danzig was not involved with the release, and was sent a promo copy in the mail. He said some of the crediting was wrong and the layout wasn't good enough. Only didn't like the mixing. There are rumours that this relates to a long running dispute between Only and Steele. Steele has said an awful lot on the matter, so I'll try to summarise. Steele says he was kicked out because Only wanted Doyle in the band, and the reason given at the time was that Steele wasn't a good enough guitarist. Steele claims Only is holding up the release because it proves Steele was more than competent. The record label has said that the reason for the withdrawal of the album was that The Misfits were never a five piece band but there are two guitars in the mix, giving a false impression of the band's sound. I'm not sure why these recordings were okay in the box set, but in 2001 their re-release was an issue, and the album never hit the shelves. All the copies were destroyed, but because it was so close to the release before the album was stopped, the promotional CDs had already been sent and many of those copies survived.

This may seem like a bit of a detour, but please bear with me because what I say next about this release I don't say lightly. Jerry Only is my hero. I tend to throw that line around a lot about lots of people, but in this instance, it's as close to true as it gets. I'll be the first to admit that the new Misfits lack the menace of the original incarnations, but Only was clearly more interested in the cartoony, fun side of the band and American Psycho and Famous Monsters are both great continuations of that aspect of the Misfits' legacy. But the reason he's my hero is Only is by far the most dedicated to his fans entertainer I've ever seen or interacted with. He sent me an autograph when I was just enquiring about joining the Fiend Club. I've seen him follow fans out of clubs that are closing so that everyone has a chance to get a signature or a photo. I've seen him let a 12 year old play on stage with the band as a reward for doing well in school. I've seen the band several times on two different continents, and at every show Only makes sure to let anyone who wants it have access to him. Some old, inflexible Fiends say the current Misfits are a joke, but one of the best shows I've ever seen was an Only fronted Misfits gig with Dez Cadena and Marky Ramone which featured Misfits, Black Flag, and Ramones songs. In short, I have a huge amount of respect for Only.

Danzig, on the other hand, pissed me off when he cancelled a show with no warning except a rumour on his website forum, back in the days when a lot of people weren't online at all, let alone checking a particular site every day. Danzig was scheduled to do the Samhain/Danzig show in Seattle but it clashed with the WTO. I understand he felt the need to cancel, but it's not like the WTO just suddenly sprung up, and why the hell couldn't there be some indication to people still offline (the gig was still being advertised the day before the show)? I found out by going to the venue and finding no one there, the threat of the WTO riots clearly so over that the streets were virtually empty. Danzig put out some great music post Misfits, but became so bogged down in his own pretentiousness I gave up on him years ago, shortly after the aforementioned incident. That's a bit of a rant, I know, and is nothing but sour grapes on my part, but the point is it's very unusual for me to say what I'm about to. I agree with Danzig, not Only. Look at that art! It's a load of shit. I could do better and I'm colour blind and lack the cognitive capacity to successfully tie my shoes. But the fans deserve to hear 12 Hits in this mix, or at least the younger ones do.

The Misfits are one of those bands that didn't transition well to the digital age. On CD the band are often flat and hollow, and while the songs shine through, it's more the spirit than the sound that gets the listener in. The music that was remastered in the 90s pales in quality next to the old vinyl releases. I'm not a vinyl snob; CD mastering has got to the point where the little silver discs can now sound better than the big black ones, but it takes time and money to get that quality. 12 Hits has had that time and money invested. This is as good as The Misfits have ever sounded on CD, clear and vibrant, and those who missed out on the turntable days should be given the chance to hear the band properly. I still prefer the vinyl versions, feeling there's a bit more atmosphere and a tad more depth and dynamic, but am aware that's more the comment of an audiophile wanker than the casual music fan.

A review of the actual music is irrelevant because if you're not familiar with the songs here you have no right to be alive. These versions are different than what most fans will be familiar with, unless they're such diehards they constantly listen to the entire box set, and should be released for those of us that like to listen to music in cars or on digital media. The horror element was coming to the fore when the band recorded 12 Hits, and every song is a classic, likely to combust the listener in a spontaneous bit of awesomeness. The only people that shouldn't love these songs are deaf people that were born that way and so never had a chance to hear them, and even they should probably train up on the lyrics to try to sing along.

Because the album was withdrawn before release, the only legit copies are the promos, though the album has been booted on vinyl. Oddly enough after being completely oblivious to the CD since 2001, I found a CD in a record store two days after researching the album's history. Are you as cool as me? Probably not, but give it a go and find your own copy.
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