The Misfits - Project 1950 (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Misfits

Project 1950 (2003)


So this appropriately shows up in my mailbox on Halloween. Since I'm quite sure that Rykodisc doesn't control CanadaPost I'll attribute this to a very fitting coincidence.

Now I could make some sort of joke like "here's a band dressed up as the Misfits for Halloween" but the arguments on the merits of the Jerry Only fronted Misfits have been well stated and I have no new insight to add. Coupled with the fact that this is being promoted as a "Misfits-sideproject" instead of the Misfits-proper, we can put that point of contention aside. I'll instead judge this one on what it is: an album of light-hearted punk covers of classic 50s tunes. Think of it as "Jerry Only & The Gimmie Gimmies" and you'll get the picture.

Now here's the part of the review where I loose my punk rock credibility: Project 1950 isn't a bad record at all.

This year's model Misfits consists of original bassist Jerry Only, Ramones drummer Markey Ramone and Black Flag's Dez Cadena on guitar. Each member professes to adore the source material and it shows in the recording, which is as enthusiastic as one would hope despite some moments of muddy production. Of course, as these were classic and well-loved songs, there's not much risk of them not having that endearing quality. Tracks like "This Magic Moment" (Jay and the Americans), "Dream Lover" (Boddy Darin) and Richie Valens' "Donna" are all quite fun. Blondie's Jimmy Destrie adds keyboards to a few tracks on Project 1950 as well. Perhaps most surprising is the participation of 60s pop singer Ronnie Spector (aka Veronica Bennett of The Ronettes), she adds a good deal of authenticity to the project and her girl-group voice counter's Only's deep warble.

Packaging wise this is hands-down one of the better presentations this year. The edition of the album in my hands is in a transparent green jewel-case and features a bonus DVD with 10 videos. The 21-page booklet features testimonials from Jerry, Marky and Dez about the songs they covered, lyrics and other info. Particularly interesting is the 5-page music lesson by Jerry detailing the history of rock chord progressions from the 50s to the punk era.

So... here I am ducking rotten fruit thrown by the mob after praising something from the post-Danzig Misfits. Of course, it's easier when we have Marky and Dez here and the material is all based on classic, significant songs. Let's be clear: reforming the Misfits (under that name at least) was a bad idea and the albums released in the late 90s were awfully dubious. Yet despite the Misfits name on the cover, this is really has little to do with that band's legacy one way or another. This is essentially a capable punk band covering some great songs with lots of energy and passion. Despite any past history that's a lot of fun.