I’ve always had a thing for Oingo Boing. They contributed “Weird Science” to the Kelly LeBrock film of that name, which has personal importance to me, as I went on my first date to see that movie. They one-upped “Weird Science” with “Dead Man’s Party,” by not only providing the song for Rodney Dangerfield’s BACK TO SCHOOL, but appearing in the film to play it. Either one of those could have been great songs for Death Ensemble’s new Dead Man’s Party section, especially since Heather Elle named the section for the Oingo Boingo song. But I went one deeper. For my first entry, I’m going with “No Spill Blood.”
Because I’ve also always had a thing for H.G. Wells’ novel The Island of Dr. Moreau, and the movies it inspired. Though it’s not particularly scary now, the 1977 version starring Burt Lancaster terrified me as a kid, with POV shots from manimals, wild vivisection experiments and, on the bright side, a 70s hot Barbara Carrera. But movie versions weren’t the only take on Wells’ novel. The phrase “House of Pain” pops up in all sorts of music, and one rap group even chose it as their name in the early 90s. My favorite band, Van Halen, even used it as a title on their rock classic, the album 1984.
When it comes down to it, though, Oingo Boingo does the novel best justice. The song is a Cliff’s Notes version, focusing on animals going from four legs to two. Wells’ famous line, “What is the Law?” is a key phrase in the song. Oingo Boingo is a great band that fuses together a lot of sounds, but listening to a lot of their stuff the last week or so, I noted and appreciated that they have a dark side to their lyrics. Much as with Prince and Michael Jackson, the upbeat tunes can distract from those black depths; once I marry those lyrics to the music, I love the full genius of it all.
I’ve spent a lot of time listening to the “How Did This Get Made?” podcast lately, and I came across “No Spill Blood” on its forum. I’m glad I did, because I’m on an Oingo Boingo kick, and it’s a sweet ride. Danny Elfman has gone on to become a top notch composer, much wanted for his dark, brilliant film scores, but pound for pound, I’ll take him in BACK TO SCHOOL any day of the week.
Check out “No Spill Blood” below, both album version and a live cut. And try not to bebop along to it. If you can resist, you belong in the House of Pain.