Ghostly Sounds: A Brief History of the Halloween Record

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Now please welcome our newest guest blogger, Keith Winton, who will be joining Lorelei and the crew at Lullaby World Headquarters to share his perspective on cool and odd kids music and activities. Just in time for Halloween, his post on classic spooky sound effects records should bring back some memories:

I believe that the Halloween recording is truly a lost art form. During the 70's and 80's hundreds of LPs were issued capitalizing on the kids horror market, chock full of tape echo and theremin and packaged in garish and cartoony images meant to grab youngsters attention. Every October, the rack jobbers would stock the wire racks next to the checkout at the local Thrifty's with these LPs, forcing mom or dad into many an impulse purchase. Pickwick Records, a label who fed entirely on cheap fads, issued quite a few greats. Both the Legend of Sleepy Hollow / Rip Van Winkle (a personal childhood favorite) read by Boris Karloff and the outright terrifying Sounds Of Terror LP were issued buy Pickwick. The comic book tie in label Power Records issued many book & 45 sets featuring Dracula, Wolf Man and other infamous characters. They also issued LP sized collections of the stories.

Peter Pan records issued super low budget kids records. The quality was all over the map. During his terrible twos, my son's favorite LP was a Peter Pan "masterpiece." I can't remember the title, but it was a horrible bunch of songs sung by a screechy mixed chorus that made MSR song poem singers sound like quiet storm stars. I've often pondered what life was like for the people making a living off of such recordings. Anyhow, Peter Pan issued many Halloween LPs, including my favorite, Ghostly Sounds. This little gem was recorded by Gershon Kingsley & Peter Waldron. I can't find much on Mr. Waldron, but he has a perfectly whacked out delivery that keeps his yarns ridiculous enough to entertain, but not completely terrify. Gershon Kingsley, as you may already know, rose to fame as the composer of Hot Butter's mega hit "Popcorn" and his song "Baroque Hoedown" was reworked into Disneyland's Main St. Electrical Parade Theme. Kingsley's classic modular synth patches run throughout Ghostly Sounds. The track "Goblin Dance" features some great rhythm box and fat Moog bass, but it also has some pretty creepy moans so your littler ones might get a bit spooked out.

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