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By Michael E. Miller
Festering in some dark abyss for the past ten years, The Lost Tracks of Danzig (evilive) has risen like an army of demons liberated from the depths of Hell.
"Lost Tracks was a big undertaking, that's for sure," Glenn Danzig says by phone from his home in Los Angeles. "I'm glad that these songs are finally out in the proper form, because a lot of fans have heard really bad Internet versions, or twentieth-generation cassette copies."
The almost-52-year-old Danzig, born Glenn Anzalone in New Jersey, first made a name in the late Seventies as the ringleader of original horror punks the Misfits. After leaving in 1983, he formed Samhain, eventually changing that band's name to Danzig in 1988. His output has always been staggering: Danzig alone released nine studio albums between 1988 and 2004, plus numerous singles, a live album, and other odds and ends. It's no surprise, then, that a few worthy tracks fell by the wayside. The Lost Tracks of Danzigis a double-disc chronological presentation of 26 previously unreleased tracks, recorded over the course of the band's past seven albums.
"There is a twelve-page booklet inside explaining the history of each lost track, what I think about the song, and why it didn't make it onto the original record," Danzig says. "The song Satan's Crucifiction,' for example, is actually one of my favorite songs, and I love it. The double guitars, the vocals -- it's a great song that didn't make it to the album. The main reason was that I wrote it as a joke to piss off the label [Def American]. They were like, 'Please don't do another satanic record, because MTV is playing you guys now, and the radio is playing you guys.' I wrote that song and we called the label guy, threatening him that the record was going to be all satanic. He flew down to the studio in a rage and we wouldn't let him listen to it, and he was all pissed off."
"White Devil Rise" comes from the same 1994 recording sessions as "Satan's Crucifiction," completed with famed producer Rick Rubin. Again, it's another song that could piss people off: It tells a tongue-in-cheek tale of an impending race war in response to a Louis Farrakhan speech. Its author isn't particularly worried about public reaction. "I couldn't give two fucks about everybody," Danzig scoffs. "The only thing that offends me is stupidity. Most of the world is pretty stupid.
"I am not offended being called a white devil," he continues. "In fact I like it." He snickers. "I still write and sing whatever the fuck I want, whenever I want, and how I want."
Although his music has gone through various phases (hardcore, industrial, goth, power metal), his lyrics have remained focused on the dark and evil, but often in an over-the-top way that seems ironic. Even the classic Misfits song "One Last Caress," with lyrics about raping mothers and killing babies, crossed over into the pseudo-mainstream: "Metallica covered that song, so it was fine."
Danzig sort of has a sensitive side, though. One example on Lost Tracks is "Come to Silver," which he wrote for Johnny Cash. The song was originally included on the 1995 album Danzig 5: Blackacidevilwith a full band, but appears here in a much more spare, stripped-down version. Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains strums the acoustic guitar as Danzig's voice fills with sadness and pain. It's a surprisingly haunting, emotional moment.
Another masterpiece is a cover of the Germs' "Caught in My Eye." While Danzig's unmistakable timbre pays tribute to Darby Crash's lyrical genius, the band slows the original riff down to pure skull-crushing sludge. "I've always liked the Germs. The whole idea of punk rock was to tear it all down and build it back up," Danzig says.
Other unexpected covers on Lost Tracks include Danzig-ized versions of David Bowie's "Cat People" and T. Rex's "Buick McKane." "My attitude about doing covers is, unless you are going to change it and give it a new life and dimension, just leave it alone," he says. "So with all the covers I've done, I try to bring another element to it. I like to make the original songs darker and creepier."
It's clear by the end of the album that Glenn Danzig is a man who has always followed his own agenda. "Nobody can tell me what to say or do. I don't care if my record is not the number one record. I don't fucking care," he says. "There's not much money in the record business anymore. I could make a jillion dollars doing a Misfits reunion, but it's never going to happen. Whoever thinks I'm doing this for money can stick a red-hot poker up their ass."