All the News That Didn't Fit

On the Record

The Olympia Connection, Or Lack Thereof


The Numbness Is Just a Bonus

Hiphop City


Soul by the Pound


Incest is Best

The Rise and Fall of the N-Word


If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, Tell the Truth Anyway

You Don't Own Me

Summer Lovin'

Stagger Lee

Music to Lose Your Job By

Boy, You Sure Can Take the Fun Out of Music


Stuart Braithwaite From Mogwai

Going to New York City?


A Whole N'other Level

Who Says Morrissey Fans Don't Get Laid?


Not Modest Enough

Of all the punk bands that emerged in response to the excesses of '70s America, the Misfits stand apart as a genuine cultural movement. Drawing inspiration from the bruised underbelly of post-WWII American pop-culture monster movies, comic books, serial killers, the Kennedy assassination, the corrupt glamour of Hollywood, rock 'n' roll, R&B, and even country & western, the Misfits weren't so much a reaction against the status quo as they were a glorification of the hideous monsters, both real and imagined, that such a culture breeds.

Legacy of Brutality, a post-mortem collection of non-album tracks, serves beautifully as a primer of the dark and dirgy mindset that is the Misfits. Taken mainly from the first half of their six-year existence (before the melody and hooks were squelched by speed and rage), these songs are some of the catchiest two-minute anthems ever created. Beautifully brief, they are a lesson in economy. No need to repeat the main riff four or eight times to establish the song: hit 'em with it once and start singing. If a guitar solo sneaks in, it's only for a bar or two, then back to the chorus. In "She," a paean to young heiress turned pop-revolutionary icon Patty Hearst, they strip the song to the bone, employing the primitive structure of verse/chorus/verse/ stop. Any more would be redundant.

The man responsible for all this is one Glenn Danzig--violent misogynist, vitriolic homophobe, megalomaniacal asshole. As the voice and sole songwriter of the band (he even re-recorded guitar tracks to bring them up to snuff) it is Danzig's vision that is simultaneously so repellent and seductive. The gruesome detail with which he explores the death of movie icon Marilyn Monroe in the song "Who Killed Marilyn" illuminates his twisted views of sexuality and women. "American Nightmare" sucks you in with its hand claps and Elvis-inspired vocals, then sneaks up and reveals itself as the tale of a man on the run after killing his girlfriend. In "Halloween," Danzig paints a picture of a suburban holiday with pagan origins taken to its gory extreme: "Burning bodies hanging from poles, this day anything goes. I remember Halloween."

But like the horrible movie monsters from which the band drew its song titles, beneath the outward visage of physical decay and corruption, the Misfits possessed grace, charm, and style. Danzig turned "Angelfuck" into a tragic love song with the line "Let those bastards believe; dry your eyes and we'll leave. She isn't loving you any more." "Come Back" is a roadhouse ballad, complete with piano, about a street-corner suicide romancing a raven to feast on his corpse. These tales of horrific violence and twisted romance reveal a compelling purity of vision, as repugnant or ridiculous as that vision may be.

The medium for this feral rage is the voice. Glenn Danzig arguably had the greatest voice punk has ever known. Part Elvis, part Rat Pack crooner, part bellowing buffoon, and 100% American, Glenn's voice had the power to incite riot. "If you're gonna scream, then scream with me!" he cries, and gutter youth rally everywhere. When he claims, "I ain't no goddamn sonofabitch! You better think about it, baby!" you don't think about it. You accept the claim and bask in his self-affirming glory.

It is fitting that the steady diet of rage and steroids eventually reduced the band to literal monsters. These days, Danzig styles himself a wolf; ex-Misfits' guitar player Doyle is a hideously swollen, neck-bolt-wearing behemoth; and Jerry (bass) resembles nothing more than a sagging, sunken-eyed troll. Glenn, 15 years into a solo career, becomes more irrelevant with each album. Jerry and Doyle are touring the propped-up carcass of the band around like a sideshow freak. But the legend remains. For millions of disaffected gutterpunks and jaded "members of society" alike, the Misfits live as a reminder of the failed American dream.