Thursday, November 17, 2011

We are the Hellcats nobody likes

The Eye Popping Sounds of Herschell Gordon Lewis
Birdman Records

Sure, there's Jaws and Halloween, but this side of Hollywood, has there ever been a more memorable movie theme than the creepy two-note kettledrum death drone of Blood Feast? Sheep guts king and exploitation pioneer HG Lewis not only dragged the rotting meat and Karo syrup gag out of the gutters of German performance art and onto American drive-in screens with nothing but pocket change and an eye for shameless opportunism on his side, but he also did it all to the cock-eyed rhythms of his own hillbilly-skewed compositions, and if the self-penned liner notes on this amazing collection of songs from the abyss is any indication, than on-the-fly songwriting was one of his favorite parts of the trip. "Eye Popping Sounds" encompasses a vast array of his film music, from the aforementioned faux-Egyptian human sacrifice tunes from Blood Feast to the immediately recognizable ("Yeehaw!") redneck hoe-down mutant bluegrass of 2000 Maniacs. Herschell's son Bob even gets in the act with his high school buddies in Faded Blue for Get Off the Road, a ramshackle slice of 60's fuzz pop from She Devils on Wheels. Elsewhere,they perform the hilariously dated Blast Off Girls theme, and there's plenty of Lewis penned C&W and incidental tracks, as well as a few choice radio spots and dialogue snippets. If you're looking for actual good soundtrack music, well, you're in the wrong place, Jack. But nobody ever looked to HG Lewis for good, anyway. He's always been about cheap, fast, and out of control, and there's plenty of that action here. For fans of Lewis' notoriously sleazy world of trashfilm, or of cheap thrills in general, this collection is as about as mandatory as they come.

- Ken McIntyre

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