These days, you could be fooled into thinking The Misfits are nothing more than a range of branded rock T-shirts. The iconic imagery of the 1946 film The Crimson Ghost has been co-opted and exhausted to the point former lead singer, Glenn Danzig, and longtime bass player, Jerry Only, will be disputing licensing rights long after the band’s famous logo is sucked of all it’s credibility. But if we put merchandise royalties to one side, there was a time when Danzig and Only produced one of the most important and unique records in punk history.
The circumstances that led to the recording of Static Age are already a firm part of rock folklore. Their debut single Cough/Cool was released through Danzig’s own Blank Records label in the summer of 1977. Not long after, Mercury Records began releasing music on their own imprint that just so happened to share the name as Danzig’s company. Danzig, who at the time owned the copyright to the name, raised the issue with the major label and as a result he was offered 30 hours of studio time in return for the rights to use the name Blank Records. Danzig accepted and in early 1978, the band entered C.I Recordings in New York.
The original plan was to record their debut album in that allotted time – an ambitious task for most bands, but this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a New Jersey punk band.
Danzig, Jerry Only, guitar player Franche Coma and drummer Mr Jim managed to force out 17 tracks within a short space of time, most of which were recorded in just one take. Unfortunately, the band were unable to secure enough label interest to fund the release of a full length album and tracks could only see the light of day through single releases or compilation appearances. It wasn’t until 1997 that the complete Static Age was officially released and by that point, Jerry Only was the only existing band member who took part in the original sessions.
Whether it was 1978 or 1997, Static Age was and will always be a bona fide classic. It’s an album loaded with unsettling charm and confident songwriting. The Misfits combined catchy rock ‘n’ roll with an intense underground swagger that could seduce and alarm in equal measures. The guitar and bass pierce through the mix like a plague of rats devouring a city, but Danzig’s powerful demeanour balances the music’s ferocious nature. His Elvis baritone croon, blended with Jim Morrison’s twisted cool, helped produced an album far more accessible than the band would originally have intended.
Static Age doesn’t just include some of the better songs in the Misfits back catalogue, but some of the best punk tracks ever committed to tape. Powerful anthems like Last Caress, Return Of The Fly, Hybrid Moments, We are 138, Teenagers From Mars, all follow each other and before you know it, you’re fishing through your laundry for your Crimson Ghost T-shirt.