“Be True To Your Ghoul”
From Dracula’s Deuce, Capitol T 2215, 1964
We’ll spend the next few weeks in October on some especially spooooooky tracks that have faded into the dark and stormy night of pop music history, starting with this novelty cut that was the brainchild of Gary Usher.
Usher was a key figure in the surf-rock craze of the early 1960s, working closely with Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys as well as Dick Dale. On Dracula’s Deuce, he managed to toss together a goofy mix of surf music, hot rod stories, and ghosts and goblins. “Be True to Your Ghoul” parodies “Be True To Your School” while other tracks on the record cover the “Little Old Lady from Transylvania” and “Shake, Rattle and Rot.” The vocals swipe Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s cadence from “Monster Mash.”
He had help from Roger Christian, who co-wrote a number of Wilson’s original Beach Boys hits including the transcendent “Don’t Worry Baby.” The cuts were recorded with members of the notorious Wrecking Crew of the sixties LA studio scene, including drummer Hal Blaine.
There was a lot of this in the sixties especially–filtering the broad spookiness of the foundational horror films Universal released in the 1930s and 1940s through whatever pop culture fad or mechanism was most likely to generate buzz and/or revenue. Part of this is also thanks to the rise in local horror TV hosts like Zacherle and Ghoulardi who would repurpose these black-and-white classics on repeat for the consumption of kids staying up too late and sneaking down to the TV for some thrills.
The Go-Go rocks, Matt! EACH one brings up a song or album I never knew existed! Certainly didn't know this was ever pressed, but I understand why it was on Capitol...to keep whatever Beach Boy publishing in-house!! I enjoyed your shout-outs to Usher and Christian, both hallowed figures in Brian Wilson/BB lore!
Christian was a local L.A. DJ (KFWB-AM) and car nut, that Wilson dad, Murry, brought to Brian to bring his car knowledge and lyrics to potential car songs Murry wanted Brian to write. In fact, I just began an article yesterday about another vaunted lyricist with whom Brian worked in the '60s.
A hint: He became a staff producer at Warner Bros. Records for a couple decades starting in the early '70s as the Beach Boys made their label switch from Capitol to the Label of The Bunny! Stay tuned, Matt, as I will to "Going to a Go-Go"!
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