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  • Ah, the Samhain box set. Could hardly call it “long-awaited”, as it never would’ve occurred to me they’d bother, given the paucity of their releases back in the day. But I’m a fan, right? And what does “fan” mean, if it’s not a euphemism for “sucker”? So here goes….First, you might mistake this for a Danzig box, given the competence of the consequently un-Samhain packaging, so be sure to open the thing up before shipping it back to Amazon with a letter of complaint. Once you do that, you’ll find all three original records (with “Misery Tomb” included on Unholy Passion–revisionism, anyone?), plus a disc labeled “Final Descent” and a disc of live cuts. Not much needs to be said about the live disc, which is great, or the original albums, which are also great (and, I’m happy to report, not too grossly remastered). The real gem here for all you vinyl hounds, though, is Final Descent, in which the Unholy Passion tracks from the original CD are replaced with a few new finds, like a primordial version of “Twist of Cain”. Very cool.The video is entertaining enough; sure, you’ve seen bootlegs with higher production values, but the band, who look like they’re barely out of high school, are genuinely charming. This, after all, is what rock and roll is all about–but don’t take my word for it: Look at the group shots on the early albums by the Stooges, the Dead Boys, or for that matter, AC/DC or the Seeds. Hats off to a group of snotty kids, who, admittedly, you probably COULD take in a dark alley, but rock harder and with more vehemence than you could ever hope to.The read disappointments here are the booklet and comic. I know, here I am saluting kid rockers and then complaining that that comic is so infantile as to be, frankly, embarassing. But these guys were always the quintessential horror rockers, the Hammer studio on wax, and stupid drawings of Glenn Danzig boning groupies hardly enhance that image. If Black Widow did anything similar, I hope they have the sense to keep it under lock and key; let porn rock be porn rock and horror rock be horror rock.The booklet is almost as bad: The lyrics to all the Unholy Passion and Final Descent songs are omitted (not that you need to care, anyway; as Fats Domino said, it’s more fun to figure ‘em out for yourself), the Danzing write-up self-congratulatory, and the other anecdotes (by both ex-drummers–go figure) strikingly uninformative. I guess the pictures are fine, but hey, the cover of Initium was always enough for me.Finally, the packaging is so cheap as to almost be insulting. Remember those flimsy containers in the Misfits box? Well, this time, Glenn dispensed even with those, going instead for the kind of cardboard sleeves you KNOW are going to get all bent-up in the car. You’d think $60 would buy a couple extra pieces of plastic, and full-size jewel boxes would fit in the oversized box, no problem.So the bottom line is, if you’re considering buying this, and you already have the albums, you should know that you’ll probably end up feeling just a little bit ripped off. Of course, if you’re a fan, you’ll still need to have it, as I did, and you’re hardly going to be daunted by ol’ Glenn’s cynicism (does anybody know if there’s anything to the rumor that he’s the one secretly putting out all those bootlegs of the old Misfits 45s?). So to you new guys, caveat emptor; to you fellow old fans, I raise my glass! You’ll dig this thing over and over, just as I am.

    Posted on December 16, 2009