Tuesday, April 10, 2007


The Revels, Dead Man's Stroll (Midnight Stroll).

This one is dedicated to Rev. Tom Frost.

The Revels were five high school friends from Philadelphia. One of them, Billy Jackson, wrote a song as a Halloween cash-in for Hal Norton's Norgolde label, a production complete with shrieks, wails and chimes. But "Dead Man's Stroll" (according to legend, it was soon retitled "Midnight Stroll" after complaints) goes far beyond Halloween novelty to become a sort of doo-wop Totentanz. Maybe it's in the straightforward but unnerving narration: the singer, leaving work late at night, walks past a cemetery and spies a top-hatted corpse walking with a cane; disbelieving his eyes, the singer follows the corpse for miles until he at last realizes he's become a corpse himself, possibly walking to his own grave.

Or maybe it's just the combination of firing-squad drum rolls, satanic laughs, funeral chimes and a nice wailing sax break.

The Revels were John Grant, Henry Colclough, John Kelly, John Jones and Jackson (who, years later, would write and produce the Tymes' "So Much in Love"). "Dead Man's Stroll" was released in August 1959 as Norgolde 103; on These Ghoulish Things.

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