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Sarah Tomlinson

The Groovie Ghoulies Re-Animation Festival

The scratchy opening chords of “Tunnel of Love,” the first number on the Groovie Ghoulies‘ 1997 album Re-Animation Festival, build momentum as the verses repeat, climbing like a rickety wooden roller coaster until the song explodes into its downward race, an ecstatic rock romance about a special, spooky love. The tempo on the next songs doesn’t let up, nor does the romance, making this album the perfect soundtrack for a party when that special someone you’ve got a zombie crush on is in attendance. “That’s That,” contains a classic Ghoulies line for wooing: “I need you like zombies need brains.” And if that crush doesn’t work out, even after you’ve plied your beloved with the sounds of the Groovie Ghoulies, the album will look after your heartache with its closing cover songs. Daniel Johnston’s tale of devotion, “To Go Home,” and Wilson Pickett’s tale of woe, “If You Need Me,” will leave you crying in your mug of beer — or in Ghouliesfashion — crying in your bowl of brains. The drums — honors are done by ex-Screeching Weasel and Riverdales drummer Dan Panic — and guitar have an insistent up-tempo pop-punk attitude, but the influences of garage rock and blues rear up throughout the album, especially on Roach’s guitar solos. “Graceland” pays tribute to Elvis Presley with ghoulish humor, opening with a rendition of Elvis’ call to action, “Hold it fellows, that don’t move me, let’s get real gone,” from his song “Milkcow Blues Boogie.” The bassline flirts along under a rambunctious romp, while telling of a voodoo ceremony to make the King get up and shake it once more. Kepi’s voice has attained greater attitude on this album, and he throws in plenty of vocal flourishes like Mick Jagger on a sugar high. This record is a good introduction to what the Groovie Ghoulies know best — simple, well-written songs with an infectious buoyant energy, and a flawless instinct for great cover songs.