Look at this glorious memory that has found its way to me!
This lost relic was discovered at a friend’s house. Its very presence remains a mystery. Neither my friend, nor his wife, had ever listened to The Undead. Both were at a loss to explain how it came to reside beneath the basement stairs.
Yet, there it sat. Displaced and lost, this punk rock bible had finally been found. My hosts kindly insisted that I keep it. It’s as if cosmic forces conspired to unite us.
Not owning a tape deck was irrelevant. Long dormant connections to my childhood had been awakened. Holding this old cassette transported me to junior high, the era in which my best friend and I discovered The Undead.
The memories came rushing back. I distinctly recalled standing in the record store, seeing Never Say Die, and convincing my friend to buy it. We had never listened to The Undead but I knew it was Bobby Steele from the Misfits. Listening to Walk Among Us in seventh grade had inspired us to seek out every Misfits recording we could find. An exploration of Samhain and Danzig followed. Finding another Misfits related project had the potential to be revelatory.
I can recall my friend’s verdict with clarity. “This is what REAL punk rock sounds like.” After making myself a copy, I was in complete agreement. This WAS real punk rock and I LOVED it.
Like The Misfits, Bobby Steele wrote pop music on steroids. The songs got inside your head and stayed there. It was pure attitude. Each song was like a big middle finger to a world that I felt disconnected from.
It was only later that we learned the EP was actually a collection of previously released 7 inches. Several tracks were taken from Nine Toes Later. This, we knew was a reference to Bobby Steele’s amputated toe, a true story that had been twisted with misinformation.
The word around our neighborhood was that Bobby Steele lost his toe from an on-stage altercation with Glenn Danzig. For reasons never explained, an angry Danzig allegedly stomped on Steel’s foot, effectively shattering a toe. The sacking of Bobby Steele was supposedly a direct consequence of this incident.
I’m not sure how persistent these rumors were outside of my immediate group of friends. The truth was, Glenn Danzig had actually helped finance early Undead recordings. In fact, Steele thought so highly of the famed front man that Live Slayer featured a picture of Danzig in the corner.
Other memories include the sheer difficulty of finding Undead albums. I never again encountered Never Say Die in a record store and had to make due with my dubbed copy. Years later, it was re-issued with Act Your Rage and re-titled Dawn of the Undead on CD. Foolishly, I lent my rare copy to a friend who misplaced it. It seems that the music of The Undead was destined to remain elusive.
In the age of the Internet, I’ve managed to track down most of their recordings. Never Say Die is the one glaring exception. I’ve never owned a legitimate copy of the album that introduced me to The Undead. That is, until now. Perhaps I’ll search out an old tape deck and truly re-connect with my thirteen year old self.