At this point I have now blogged about every Danzig studio album as well as the few live recordings that exist. The only two albums I haven’t touched on are the two Glenn Danzig releases under the Black Aria title. Those two albums are classical pieces and I don’t intend to post about them in any great depth. All I will say on the subject is that the first Black Aria is worth checking out, but the second isn’t. Even without talking about those records, that’s still a lot of content I’ve covered and there’s still one more to go.
Without question, the most anticipated Danzig release for me since I became a fan in ’98 has been The Lost Tracks of Danzig. It might sound kind of odd on the surface, as how could a collection of songs deemed not worthy of an album release generate so much excitement? Credit for that goes to former Danzig bassist Eerie Von who had a short-lived telephone hotline in the 90’s following his departure from the band. Fans who called up were sometimes treated to clips of unreleased Danzig material that Von had held onto. I can’t precisely recall just how many songs Von featured, but I do know a track called “Cold, Cold Rain” was one and I needed to hear the rest of it. “Cold, Cold Rain” is a ballad and one with an old 50’s sound to it. It was recorded for the album Danzig II: Lucifuge but was omitted, likely in favor of “Blood and Tears.” It features these awesome Danzig wails that still sounded excellent over a telephone line and I was positively despondent over the fact that I couldn’t hear the whole thing, and perhaps never would.
When Glenn Danzig was doing press for the Samhain Box Set released in 2000 he started talking about doing a Danzig one. The Danzig one would come in a box shaped like an inverted cross and would contain a bunch of unreleased stuff. At this time, Glenn had just got the rights to his unreleased stuff from American Recordings, his old label and home to the first four Danzig albums. It had taken years to get all of that stuff back, but now Glenn knew he was sitting on a bunch of songs that he could probably make some money off of. Unfortunately for fans, Danzig decided to focus on the home video type stuff at first and put out two DVDs featuring the old music videos from Danzig III and Danzig IV. Glenn would be asked and would comment on the potential box set for years and years. Not until he became burned out on touring and album making did he finally focus his attention on what would become The Lost Tracks of Danzig.
The Lost Tracks of Danzig compilation was finally released in the summer of 2007. Along the way, the idea of a box set was dropped and instead the album was released on an oversized digibook. The packaging was kind of like the old CD long-boxes that were around in the 80’s and it housed two discs stored vertically as opposed to a more traditional fold-out design. On the inside cover was a booklet glued in. Within that booklet was a bunch of photos of the band through-out it’s existence as well as liner notes for almost every song by Glenn. These notes are fairly minimal, but most exist for Glenn to offer his opinion on the track and why it never was released in the first place. There’s also some original artwork on the cover of the booklet by Joe Chiodo. The exterior design was done by long-time collaborator Simon Bisley.
Not all of the tracks ended up being previously unreleased. There were a couple that once appeared as B-sides or on non Danzig releases. “When Death Had No Name” is one such track which was originally released as a B-side for the “Dirty Black Summer” single. It also appears on this collection twice as it was recorded for both Danzig I and Danzig III (and supposedly, it was recorded for Danzig II as well) with the Danzig III version being the superior one. The track “Deep” from the X-Files show compilation also appears here, as do a couple of remixes at the end of disc two for “Belly of the Beast” and “Unspeakable.”
Even with a couple of previously released tracks occupying space on this collection, there’s still a ton of stuff that is new to fans. Both discs are packed pretty much to capacity with 13 tracks apiece. Disc one spans from 1988 thru 1996, while disc two covers the rest. Most fans were probably really looking forward to hearing the oldest stuff, but a lot of the songs from the 2000’s are pretty enjoyable as well.
Disc one opens up with a really crunchy, rocking track titled “Pain is Like an Animal.” Written and recorded for the first Danzig album, it’s easy to see how this up-tempo number didn’t quite fit. The quality of the recording is a bit lo-fi, but still enjoyable. This track is somewhat controversial amongst the Danzig fan-base as Glenn’s vocals make it sound like this one was recorded later, perhaps during the Danzig III sessions, but Glenn says otherwise. It’s quite possible that this one was recorded several times, like “When Death Had No Name,” and Glenn just forgot which recording was which.
The Danzig II tracks are pretty sweet, further cementing my opinion that Danzig II is the band’s best album. “Angel of the Seventh Dawn” is another rock-heavy tune with some nice blues elements. It would not sound out of place at all on Danzig II, but maybe Glenn just thought he had better tracks. “Cold, Cold Rain” did not disappoint me, and it’s a great old-school Danzig ballad. It’s slow but with a big sound. It probably would have clashed with “Blood and Tears,” though Glenn says he always liked the song, but producer Rick Rubin did not. “You Should Be Dying” is unfortunately one of the collection’s low points. It has a cool “Sabbathy” intro but doesn’t go anywhere with it. The vocals also sound like they were re-recorded for the collection as that’s just not how Glenn’s voice sounded in 1990. According to him, though, the only vocals that had to be re-recored for this release were for the song “Come to Silver.” Even though it’s basically a bad song, the chorus will get stuck in your head. You have been warned!
Apparently there were few holdovers from Danzig III, or Glenn didn’t see fit to release any others, because it’s one of the more under-represented albums on this compilation. The previously mentioned “When Death Had No Name” is present from that session, but it’s the same version as the one from the “Dirty Black Summer” single. A good song, just nothing new. “Buick McKane” is the only other track from Danzig III and it’s a cover of a T. Rex song. It’s a pretty standard rock track but it has a cool jam quality to it that makes it stand out amongst Danzig songs. It was likely intended to be a B-side somewhere down the road or was recorded just for fun.
The Danzig IV era brings about some interesting tracks for this collection. There’s the joke song “Satan’s Crucifiction” that actually ends up being one of the best songs on this collection. It was recorded for the sole purpose of messing with the executives at American who wanted to capitalize on the band’s recent break-out success with a record that wasn’t too “satanic.” It’s a dark and menacing track with great atmosphere. The lyrics are appropriately cheesy but the song’s a lot of fun. “The Mandrake’s Cry” is a song best described as filler. Neither strong nor weak, it was likely an easy omission from the 4p record. It’s also another track where the vocals sound like they may have been re-recorded, or were just recorded with substandard quality. “White Devil Rise” is a song recorded in response to Louis Farrakhan and his labeling of the white race as The White Devil. It’s about a race war and has a very apocalyptic feel to it. The song is under-developed though and the chorus is fairly banal and kind of annoying. It’s one of my least liked tracks on this collection.
Danzig 5: Blackacidevil is probably Danzig’s least liked record amongst fans, but the tracks from it on this collection are actually pretty good. “Come to Silver” isn’t a new song, but this version removes the vocal distortion and other effects and strips it down to just Glenn and an acoustic guitar. These vocals were re-recorded for this collection as the original masters weren’t usable. The vocal performance could be described as understated, but it works. I still prefer the original from Blackacidevil, but this a cool track. “Deep” is not a new track, as mentioned earlier, but “Warlok” is. It borrows the simple chord progression from “Mother” but adds some fuzz and other effects. Glenn’s vocals are free of distortion and he sings in a quasi-falsetto voice which works really well. Short and sweet, “Warlok” is a nice surprise for this collection.
Danzig 6:66 Satan’s Child had over twenty tracks recorded for it but only twelve made it to the final LP. It’s no surprise that a few tracks made it to this collection. Kicking off disc 2 is “Lick the Blood Off My Hands” which is a bluesy track but with some industrial elements. I’m not sure if it’s ever been confirmed if this was a Danzig 5 holdover or one from Danzig 6, it’s not a bad song though. “Crawl Across Your Killing Floor” is from Danzig 6, though the guitars on this track were done by Todd Youth who would join the band after Danzig 6 was completed. I’m assuming the song was done, but Glenn wanted to re-do the guitars for an eventual release and had Youth step in. It’s a pretty bad ass song and one of Glenn’s longest. Youth’s leads are excellent too. This is a stand-out track and the only one to receive a music video clip from this collection (the concept for the video was pretty cool, but the execution laughable). “I Know Your Lie” is another holdover that Glenn claimed he just plain got sick of during the recording of the album. It’s a decent song, but I can see how Glenn could get annoyed with it. Rounding out the 6:66 sessions is a cover of The Germs’ “Caught in My Eye.” Some industrial effects were added and Glenn delivers his vocals with that whisper track adding an eerie quality to the atmosphere. It works, and the punk vibe is still present for those looking for it.
“Cat People” follows, which was recorded during the Danzig: 777 I Luciferi sessions. It was intended as a B-side, but was never released until now. It’s a David Bowie cover that most people probably know today as the song from the film Inglourious Basterds. It’s quite effective and the song exists mostly to build-up to an explosive second act. “Bound by Blood,” per Glenn, was a tough omission from Danzig 7 and it’s clear why once heard. One of my favorites from this collection, it’s an uncharacteristically sweet number from Danzig with some dynamite lead work by Youth once again. It starts off slow, but rises to explosive levels fairly quickly. “Who Claims the Soulless” is a pleasant enough track. The guitar has a nice groove to it, and Joey Castillo’s drums work quite well for this one. “Malefical” is a brooder. Not a stand-out number, but not really a weak effort either. “Dying Seraph” closes things out for I Luciferi and it’s a nice one too. It has a bit of a jazz feel to it with some nice vocals by Glenn. The big chorus serves as the cherry on top.
Circle of Snakes has just one representative on here and it’s “Lady Lucifera.” It’s kind of a typical modern era Danzig track, though the production just doesn’t do it for me. It’s muddy, like Circle of Snakes, and Glenn’s vocals just aren’t crisp. Apparently he likes the track a lot, but I could do without. The last two tracks are likely here just to fill space. “Underbelly of the Beast” is from The Crow: Salvation soundtrack and is a remix of “Belly of the Beast” that doesn’t really add much to the original. “Unspeakable (Shango Mix)” is another remix, though this one was done for the adult film Grub Girl which was based on a character from Glenn’s Verotik publication. The best thing that can be said for this one is it sounds like background music for a porn film.
In the end, The Lost Tracks of Danzig comes across like a greatest hits collection, even if few of the tracks were ever released! It’s a great compilation with a surprising amount of quality. I played the Hell out of this thing when it first came out, and even though there’s a few tracks I don’t particularly care for, it’s still something I like to come back to. I’d love to hear a few more of these tracks live, but as far as I know, only “Pain is Like An Animal,” “Satan’s Crucifiction,” and “Lady Lucifera” have been played live, and none are played presently. The collection was released as a two disc CD and also as a 4 LP on 180 gram vinyl and colored vinyl. The vinyl release contains liner notes for one additional track over the CD version, “Cat People,” and the colored edition sort of varies from a blue to a light purple. A small number of the CD version were released with an incorrect “groovy” Danzig font that was quickly changed to the traditional one so there’s some items out there for collectors to go after. This is a set any Danzig fan should pick up, and even fans that checked out following the break-up of the original lineup will probably find material on disc 2 to enjoy. This was one release that proved to be worth the wait!
- Cold, Cold Rain
- Bound by Blood