American horror punk band the Misfits released Project 1950 on 29 July 2003. It encompasses ten classic rock n’ roll cover songs played in typical Misfits punk rock style. Also typical for a punk album, Project 1950 comes with a length worthy of an E.P., 24 minutes and 20 seconds. Bassist Jerry Only picks up the lead microphone for the first time for the Misfits on this record and I, personally, really like it.
The album kicks off with The Drifters’ This Magic Moment, which is characterised by Ronnie Spector’s high-pitched background vocals. A good opener. Dream Lover by Bobby Darin continues the oldies party and John Cafiero adds the backing choirs on this one, which by the way are a great addition to the song. I enjoy the mix of the Misfits’ brachial sound and John’s clean backings.
Diana, originally by Paul Anka, is my favourite song on this record. Never have I heard a cover song of Diana with so much passion and balls! And adding saxophone to punk rock is as brilliant as adding saxophone to hardcore metal, like Dog Eat Dog did it in the 1990s. Thank you Ed Manion for your fabulous contribution. And the choirs by Joan Tyler made the song even more an instant classic.
Then, the uptempo version of Donna, a song by Ritchie Valens, picks up where Diana left off and gives the listener the perfect party; and how can the stomping Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis not bring down the house? Dez Cadena’s guitar solo on this cover song could be the highlight of his guitar work on the record.
Latest Flame by Elvis Presley takes it down a notch in regard to energy, which is not a bad thing after this much musical adrenaline. The song animates to whip along and reenergise before the perfect horror song enters the picture, Bobby (Boris) Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers’ Monster Mash. Again, an excellent background vocals and choir performance by John Cafiero and one of the best songs on the record.
Only Make Believe by Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty can be defined a ballad in the context of this album, which is very refreshing. This might also be one of Jerry Only’s best vocal performances on the record. The melodies are clear and solid. Del Shannon’s Runaway picks up the pace adequately before going into the closing song of the record.
You Belong to Me by Jo Stafford finishes this 10-song oldies festival in an ‘okay’ manner. Compared to the other nine songs it is the weakest song in terms of musical performance and song choice. There would have been better choices for this album, but it is okay. Maybe the band realised it and added three more songs to their expanded edition. But I can’t judge those songs, since I own a copy of the very first pressing. Yeah, I bought the CD just when it came out at the end of July 2003, while I was on a road trip through the US.
The CD also comes with a DVD with lots of bonus material, 8 live performances of the Misfits and two music videos of Balzac, a Japanese punk band that was signed to Misfits Records.
I enjoy listening to Misfit’s Project 1950 on a regular basis. I have to admit that I skip the last track, but I can live with that. The first nine songs of the album make complete sense to me and are more fun to listen to than the originals. Definitely worth having in any music collection.
Total grade 7/10