The Misfits - Evilive (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Misfits

Evilive (1987)

Plan 9 Records

The Evilive 12-inch, essentially an expanded version of the previously released 7-inch of the same name, made it a specific point that the Misfits weren’t just what they were on the studio recordings. Most Misfits studio records, at least up through 1982’s Walk Among Us were fairly polished offerings, especially in contrast to other scratchy and thin sounding punk records of the day. The result of that is that, on record, the band was in total control of their vision and had a sort of smoothness, or if not smoothness, then craftsman ship that many other bands were rejecting at the time. Evilive made the argument that while that was one facet of the band, they also had another- sheer brutality.

The live record was mean and nasty and loud and blown out by design. At one point, while pausing to tune, they asked the audience “What, do you think we’re lightweights?!” At another, they screamed out, “turn it up! You want it turned up or what?!!” At another, “do you think he’ll get out of the hospital in time?!” One does appreciate how they were attacking and agitating the audience as much as they were playing to them.

The songs here are played at nearly double time as Danzig, in Ramones style, shouts out the titles before the band launches into heavy thwomping versions. In the rare Doyle/Arthur Googy lineup, the band focused on heavy pounding, messy sound that added a certain violence to the tracks. Doyle doesn’t play guitar lines so much as he slams sounds out of his instruments, which, here, resulted in an iconic sound that was as much a noise mass as it was “playing.” Jerry Only countered that with his heaviest and most slinging bass lines to date, which borrowed from the early New York blues punkers and maybe even had a touch of the low rumble of Sabbath.

For his part, Glenn Danzig shifted from his croon to proto-hardcore screaming throughout the release. Wisely, he kept the melody in these songs- and these songs are strong enough to retain their identity no matter how they are rendered- but a certain live savageness made a known presence. The band seemed to be arguing that these songs weren’t just “fun songs,” but acts of violence, or if not that, then really, really hard tracks.

Famously, Henry Rollins appeared at the end of the recording to blast through a riled up version of “We are 138,” creating one of the most famous teamups in punk history. While the studio recording was cased in a cold menace, the live rendition is as celebratory as the Misfits would get on record, or even live. With that track, and the live album in general, the band underscored how yes, there was a certain darkness and aggressive edge to the band, but even that was at least partially based in a sense of fun. Thankfully, this statement was recorded and preserved herein, in order to give a more full view of the band than the studio tracks might suggest, on their own.