HORROR BUSINESS 7"
Label: Plan 9 Records
1. Horror Business
2. Teenagers From Mars
3. Children In Heat
Judging from t-shirts and buttons that one sees, this is probably the most popular Misfits single. It is certainly one of the more consistent records of their early period (pre-1982). "Horror Business" is told from the point of view of Anthony Perkins' character in the movie Psycho, but without the weird Oedipal undertones. In fact, for a really sexy movie, and for an oversexed mind like Glenn's (have you seen the most recent Danzig videos?), he tones down or ignores all the repressed lusts of Norman Bates and basically you wouldn't know that the victim in the song is a naked woman unless you'd seen the movie. Maybe it is such an easy identification (couldn't Norman Bates have written most of the early songs?) that there was no need to play it up — so most of the allusions to the movie are veiled or confused (I don't remember any black mirrors in the Bates Motel). What makes the reference unmistakable is the group shouting of "Psycho 78," and the lines about going into the bathroom and getting stabbed. With an excellent pre-chorus (initiated by a very Ramones-like "oooooh" by Jerry, then "You don't go into the bathroom with me!"), the "Psycho 78" shout along, and the euphemistically threatening chorus, this is one of the best movie songs the band ever did, though I still think it should have been called "Horror Motel."
"Teenagers From Mars," on the flip side, is not a song I really care for. It starts off with a fairly perfunctory riff, and except for a really good pre-chorus ("We take your weak resistance, throw it in your face. We need no introduction for mass annihilation") the song is sort of boring. What exactly it is that they "don't care" about is a mystery to me, and their defiance of international law ("visas or carte blanche") seems like a given: they are aliens, right? Also off-putting about this song is its self-referencing lines about "B-film invasion" and "3-D movies." When they played this song live, Glenn changed the outro lyrics to "Bobby Steele's a fucking cunt, an asshole fucking cunt." I can't say that I find that an improvement.
The last song is "Children In Heat." Like "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division, the intro riff suggests a raw, garagey awesomeness to come, but unlike that song it is not a tease. When Glenn's vocals come in, I am always taken aback by the restrained, almost David Bowie-like delivery of the first line—however, by the end of the verse, the vocals have accelerated into a furious shout: "You've been pissing, pissing blood, pissing blood for seven days!" Sadly, this is the highlight of the song, because the chorus is sort of lounge-y, and the riff under the "no resistance!" part is goofy. All told, though, I love this song, because of lines like "Children in heat, they have no conscience," and, "They all changed their names to Chicago." Also, the frantic end to the first verse is up there with Negative Approach's "Whatever I Do" for a fury barely under control.
So, why is this one of the most popular Misfits single? I think the kitschy, B-movie themes play into people's conception of the band — a sort of don't-give-a-fuck attitude that never approaches the seriousness of Earth AD or the more naïve embarrassment of Static Age's references. This is the best representation of the band's persisting aesthetic in the popular memory. Also, hey, the songs are good.
Footnote to the song "Horror Business":
Samhain covers "Horror Business" on the first album. There is a mysterious and unnecessary keyboard part that is barely audible, and "Psycho 78" is changed to "Psycho 88" even though it came out in 1985. Glenn holds out the "I'm warning youuuuuuuuu" part for quite a bit longer than before, but then he messes up the whole flow of the verse by sometimes changing "bathroom" to "back." Worth hearing.