Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Reviews: Vampire Tales Vol. 2; The Music Machine- Turn On

VAMPIRE TALES VOL. 2 (Marvel, 2011; softcover)
Collects Vampire Tales Nos. 4-7 (cover dates April- October, 1974)
I was happy to see the series shift its focus back to Morbius, the Living Vampire after Issue 3. It seemed like they were hyping Satana to be the lead feature, and then nothing. She lasted two issues. The reprints from '50s Horror comics are weeded out, and the influx of talented creators really lift this series to heights of greatness. Let me drop some names here: Writers on this series include Don McGregor, Doug Moench, Tony Isabella, Roy Thomas (who adapts Robert Bloch's The Living Dead), Steve Gerber, Marv Wolfman, and Chris Claremont. Artists include greats such as Tom Sutton, Esteban Maroto, Rich Buckler, Val Mayerik, Bob Brown, Tom Palmer, Pablo Marcos, Alfredo P. Alacala, and Howard Chaykin. Alfredo P. Alcala, a personal favorite of mine, turns in what must be his greatest work in Blood Death (Issue 6). I love his work on the DC Horror titles from this era (House of Secrets, House of Mystery, etc.), as his artwork really shines in the black and white phonebook format for those titles. Here, his artwork was intended to be seen in black and white, and he puts even more detail in each panel than he usually did. It's stunning, rich, atmospheric work, with so much texture and nuance that I could put it on my wall and stare at it like fine art in a museum.
The stories in this book are almost as good as anything in the Warren Magazines (Creepy, Eerie, etc.) of the time, and I am interested in seeing what the rest of the series holds. Vol. 3 is listed on Amazon.com but has not been officially solicited yet.
The Music Machine/ Turn On (Originally released 1966; this reissue 2007, Repertoire)
I have known the song Talk Talk for almost 30 years, thanks to Alice Cooper's cover on his Flush the Fashion album. Thanks to Facebook and Youtube, I was finally exposed to The Music Machine's original version, and other songs on the album. I went out to several record stores (not appliance stores), and none of them had this in stock. Months went by, and I turned to Amazon.com, and was baffled by the various configurations of this album that were available. Being a purist, I wanted something that replicated the original LP experience as closely as possible (on CD). This particular version has both the stereo and mono mixes, plus 4 B-sides in a nice digipak.
The aforementioned Talk Talk is the highlight of the album, but there are many worthwhile listens on this album. Masculine Intuition is another winner, as is The People in Me. The band busts out a punchy cover of The Beatles' Taxman. I find this to be interesting because there isn't a trace of influence from them elsewhere on the album. I guess you could say the same for their cover of Neil Diamond's Cherry Cherry. Like most bands in the '60s, the band has a few covers on the album. See See Rider, also covered by The Animals around this time, is also done here. Other covers include 96 Tears, originally done by ? and the Mysterians and Hey Joe, a song later popularized by Jimi Hendrix. Wrong, a band original, is a total jam and makes me wish that the band had an album full of original material.
Sean Bonniwell has a baritone croon similar to Jim Morrison's, and it should be pointed out that his vocal style pre-dates The Doors by a year. Couple that with the organ work of The Animals and there are two of the major factors of The Doors' sound, whether the band admitted it or not. Also, Bonniewell did the single glove thing decades before Michael Jackson. The band was way ahead of their time, and this album holds up remarkably well.


  1. I'll have to check out those Vampire Tales trades, they sound pretty good. I'm a fan of the EC and Warren horror comics, but never have read the Marvel stuff. The only thing that gives me pause is the reduced-size format.

  2. A lot of people have griped about the format for these books, but it read just fine to me.