20th Century Ghosts is Joe Hill’s first publication, a collection of his early short stories. While I first learned about Joe Hill through his short story “The Devil on the Staircase” in Stories, I am not sure this bundle would have won me over.
It starts of fine, with “Best New Horror” and the titular tale, and then, well, there’s a couple of stories that are just there. Not good, not bad, just sorta kinda in the middle. In the middle of those, there’s another interesting one (“The Black Phone”) and then “Voluntary Committal” closes the book on a high note.
Seems to me that Hill was still trying to find his stride, and succeeding here and there.
Joe Hill — 20th Century Ghosts
A month before his deadline, Eddie Carroll ripped open a manila envelope, and a magazine called The True North Literary Review slipped out into his hands. (from “Best New Horror”)
To start with the latter: the first four albums are stone cold classics, if you’re into that kind of melodic, nearly-hair metal with silly lyrics about strange, foolishrock and rolldragons who dream of dark rainbows. In the the nineties they were kinda lost for a bit (grunge was a thing, sadly), but at the turn of the century there was a return to form, but it wasn’t as fun as before.
(Years later, the Mob Rules line-up reunited and toured as Heaven and Hell, and made a pretty good album as well. I saw their show at the 2007 Fields of Rock festival, and it was fist-pumping, horns-throwingly ace.)
Day 24: a song by a band you wish were still together.
I only saw Skik live once, and that was long before I really started to like them. Since then, their singer / songwriter Daniël Lohues has completely won me over with his solo work. While I don’t really miss them, I would have liked to see them knowing their music as I do now. That would have been something.
“Alles gaat voorbij” is not quite a typical song within their oeuvre — it’s rather sparse, with its seemingly programmed drums and that keyboard thing I don’t recognize but want to call a clavinet — but then again, they never really had a specific style. Throughout their career they went from punkish short songs to orchestrated ballads, and from surf– or Beatles-inspired tunes to some country-tinted folky stuff. Plus some blues rock, for good measure.
Day 23: a song that you think everybody should listen to.
Without contest, everybody needs to hear the latest Jim Steinman classic, “What Part of My Body Hurts the Most”. Ever since I first heard a bootlegged recording back in 2005 or so (not actually the one behind that link, but you get the idea), I knew this was going to be a classic. I my head, I could hear Meat Loaf nailing it, I could hear the arrangement, the piano and pounding drums — every little thing. And then it didn’t happen. There have been several sanctionedlive versions and tributes, but no official release. Until last year, when it appeared in Bat Out of Hell The Musical. As there is no official digital release of the cast recording, I cannot offer Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton’s final version, so a bootlegged promo mix is the best I can do.