The Undead - Having an Undead Summer [EP] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Undead

Having an Undead Summer [EP] (2017)

post mortem records

The Undead was the group Bobby Steele formed in 1980, after he was unceremoniously sacked from the Misfits. The ‘band’ has gone through countless lineup changes over the years with guitarist/vocalist Steele as the sole constant. I was a big fan of The Undead’s 80’s material, and was fortunate enough to see them live a couple times in the 90’s. The Dawn of The Undead compilation is still a favorite of mine. Somewhere along the way, I lost track of the band. Truthfully, they’ve gone through long periods with little or no activity. Earlier this year, largely due to dumb luck, I saw them play in Chicago. Seeing them live and talking to Bobby really reminded me how much I like The Undead. I picked up their newest LP The Morgue...The Merrier (2015), and I am now back onboard with what they’re doing.

Having an Undead Summer is a brand new four song EP that is heavily flavored by surf music and the old beach movies. Production wise, it’s very similar to the last album. The Undead seem to have settled into a sound that’s somewhere between the early stuff by the Misfits (think Static Age) and vintage stuff by The Cramps (think Psychedelic Jungle). The music is influenced by both punk rock and early rock and roll, with a creepy horror punk vibe. It can be similar to some of the things that Jerry Only tried to pull off with the post Danzig Misfits (think Project 1950), but Steele is better at it. Having an Undead Summer will make you very happy if you like watching The Addams Family or The Munsters and enjoy listening to novelty Halloween songs like “Monster Mash” or “Purple People Eater”.

The almost title track “Undead Summer” kicks things off with a killer, ragged surf riff followed by Bobby’s ragged but familiar voice. His wife Diana Steele takes lead vocals on the second verse, and they alternate lines after that. Normally someone adding their wife to their band is a bad sign, but here it works. Diana adds female vocals, a second guitar and the occasional keytar. She also seems to be a major factor in the band’s resurgence, so for that I am grateful. “Undead Summer” actually references the second song, “Ridin’ the Graves”. Diana takes lead vocals on “Ridin’ the Graves”, and it owes a debt to the Undead classic “When the Evening Comes”. Diana also takes lead vocals on “Oh Frankie!”. It’s a bit of a throwback to the 60’s girl groups, even if the man of her dreams is Frankenstein’s monster. It even incorporates a bit of “Hall of the Mountain King”. Bobby wraps things up with the punny ballad “Hearse Song”. It’s a love song and a tribute to The Undead’s touring vehicle, which just happens to be a 1995 Cadillac Fleetwood Hearse.

The Undead really paid attention to the details on Having an Undead Summer. The cover art was done by Tim Jacobus, who is most famous for his work on the Goosebumps series of children's books. It features Frankenstein surfing on an ocean filled with trash. The seven inch comes in two colors, blue and orange. It’s a very nice collectible that also happens to be fun to listen to. All four songs are both self-referential and self-aware, and the band seems to be enjoying themselves. (This is important. I see too many older bands that just seem to be going through the motions.) The music is not as vicious and aggressive as the early Undead stuff, but that’s OK. It actually allows Bobby Steele a chance to age gracefully. ( Another thing that many older bands seem to struggle with.) Fans of surf punk, horror punk and the Misfits in general should check this out.