A SYMPHONY OF HORRORS

The second ever single released by The Monochrome Set was entitled Eine Symphonie des Grauens, which translates as ‘A Symphony of Horrors’. It must be one of the few, if indeed perhaps the only, indie-pop classic that’s written from the perspective of a vampire falling head over heels for the beautiful young thing he is about to seek his fangs into:-

I’m dead and dank and rotten
My arms are wrapped in cotton
My corpse loves you, let’s marry

Get smart, once – Every night at sleepy time
Get smart, twice – I hang my skin out on the line
Get smart, sing – Oh, darling, would you be, be mine

I’m in love, I think I’m in love
I’m in love, I think I’m in love
I’m in love, I think I’m in love, oh ho-ho-ho

I’m caught in a mesh of veins
My fingers and flesh and brains
My skull gives head, so let’s wed

Get smart, once – Every night when all alone
Get smart, twice – I drape my flesh around the phone
Get smart, pray – Oh, darling, would you be my own

I’m in love, I think I’m in love
I’m in love, I think I’m in love
I’m in love, I think I’m in love, oh oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

Don’t cry, beautiful, it’s just a phase
To the father and the son and the holy ghost
I chant and I pray, I love
You know, God works in mysterious ways
To the father and the son and the holy ghost
I sing and I pray, I love

I’m soft and slightly stinking
My arms are small and shrinking
My lips kiss dirt, oh, let’s flirt

Get smart, once – Every night at half-past-one
Get smart, twice – There’s a little taste of things in come
Get smart, chant – Oh, darling, can I be your son?

I’m in love, I think I’m in love
I’m in love, I think I’m in love
I’m in love, I think I’m in love, oh oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

Don’t scream, baby, it’s just a coma
To the father and the son and the holy ghost
I chant and I pray, I love
You go to heaven, I go to Roma
To the father and the son and the holy ghost
I sing and I pray, I love

mp3 : The Monochrome Set – Eine Symphonie des Grauens

The song title, and indeed its entire premise, is based on Nosferatu, a silent horror film released as long ago as 1922. Widely regarded as a masterpiece, the film had the full title of Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, and was the first ever adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel, Dracula, that had been published 25 years earlier. The only problem for the filmmaker F.W. Murnau was that his work was unauthorised and led to Stoker’s widow successfully suing him and the production company with part of the court ruling being that all copies had to be destroyed. It didn’t quite materialise and indeed an existing copy made its way to the USA where it was released to much acclaim in 1929.

But enough of the cinematic stuff….this is a music blog after all.

Eine Symphonie…..is an absolute belter of a single, coming with an infectiously catchy sing-a-long chorus riding its way along a tune that just screams to be danced to. I’d love to say that I picked up on it when it was released on Rough Trade in 1979 but this was a band I didn’t really begin to listen to until they were brought to my attention by a flatmate. The late 70s saw many amazing and often unheralded bands forming in the immediate aftermath of the punk/new wave explosion and this London-based combo slipped well under my radar. I think it would have been a different story if I had lived in that part of the country instead of Glasgow….

Here’s yer jaunty instrumental track that was on the b-side:-

mp3 : The Monichrome Set – Lester Leaps In

JC

7 thoughts on “A SYMPHONY OF HORRORS

  1. Must be a flatmates thing. In my first year of uni (1983), I shared digs at a halls of residence with a guy from Manchester who raved about them. It’s my only point of reference for them. Those lyrics are truly bizarre.

  2. I was even further behind catching onto them than you JC but saw them at Stereo earlier in the year because Cathode Ray were supporting. The new album ‘Maisieland’ is a great pop record.

  3. I first came across The Monochrome Set (and Felt, and many others) on the excellent Cherry Red Compilation ‘Pillows and Prayers’. 99p for a cracking collection of songs. Their first 3 or 4 LPs are crammed full of catchy songs.

  4. Excellent band and one of the raft of bands who made music interesting after the initial surge of punk. Going strong again since their 2010 reunion. Very prolific with 5 albums since. This year’s Maisieworld is the best of them imo.

    Only discovered this blog a week ago by the way and it’s more than a daily visit now.

  5. Ah, the Monochrome Set, I presume. Great guitars, Bid’s wry, good-natured baritone and always clever lyrics. Would have loved to see them live, but when (if?) they ever made it to the States I wasn’t paying attention. Never made the connection between this tune and Nosferatu so thanks for that, your Villainship!

  6. The Cherry Red years are something special, but don’t stop there. You could make one hell of an ICA just from their albums this decade.

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