With Halloween approaching I couldn’t let it pass without a superdeluxeedition top ten… so here we have it, the connoisseur’s choice when it comes to ghostly, scary or trick-or-treaty songs. Think you can do better? Let’s see your suggestions in the comments section!
>The Trickster / Radiohead
Let’s kick things off with a b-side from The Bends. One of many top class extra tracks that were released on the two My Iron Lung CD singles back in the day…but still available thanks to The Bends Deluxe Edition CD
>Ghost of the Year / Max Q
Max Q is the point at which aerodynamic stress on a vehicle in atmospheric flight is maximized. It is also the name of an album recorded in 1989 by Michael Hutchence and Aussie mate Ollie Olsen. The album is something of a ‘lost’ classic and has been out of print for many years.
Ghost of the Year is track three, but standout tracks include Monday Night By Satellite, Concrete and atmospheric closer Ot-Ven-Rot. Used copies can still be found.
>Happy Phantom / Tori Amos
A great track from debut Little Earthquakes, back in the days when Tori used to write songs rather than “song-cycles” (see Night of Hunters, 2011). This track can be found on the exemplary A Piano: Collection box set.
>Spirits in the Material World / The Police
Tenuous, I know, but squeezes in simply because it’s a great track. Message in a Box is still the only real choice for box sets when it comes to The Police. It’s supposed to contain “everything”, but doesn’t. For instance if you buy the DTS CD or SACD of Every Breath You Take: The Classics, in the multi-channel layer only, you get the otherwise unreleased 1986 version of De Do Do Do De Da Da Da.
>Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) / David Bowie
“She asked for my love and I gave her a dangerous mind / Now she’s stupid in the street and she can’t socialise”. Tip for the ladies, don’t date Bowie.
From the album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) which brought to an end the golden era of Bowie in the 1970s.
>Get Out Of My House / Kate Bush
Hammer Horror from Lionheart is the obvious Halloween choice (EMI actually released it as a single, just before Halloween in 1978), but this track from 1982’s The Dreaming is far more scary than that rather camp, theatrical offering. Inspired by a viewing of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Get Out Of My House is an exercise in sheer terror. Kate knows she’s in trouble when she “See’s the hackles on the cat, standing”, whilst stuck in a house “Full of m-m-madness”. Just when you think this is possibly the weirdest song you’ve ever heard, it ends with Kate literally braying like a donkey.
She was 24 when she recorded this amazing song. The Dreaming is probably the least understood and least owned Kate Bush album, but it’s a rewarding listen which paved the way for the commercial success of Hounds of Love.
>Ghosts / Japan
“Just when I think I’m winning….” Does anyone NOT like this song?
>Halloween Parade / Lou Reed
From the evergreen New York album. With the Songs For Drella collaboration with John Cale close behind, and then Magic and Loss, the early 1990s were an artistic high for Lou Reed. This is a rare live performance of Halloween Parade.
>Ghost Town / The Specials
Superb stuff. Don’t get tired of this one.
>Thriller / Michael Jackson
Over familiar, but decided it would be churlish to omit the best selling scary song ever.