For as rabid a fan base as the Misfits have, one would think that there would have been a book about them by now. Aside from former Danzig bassist Eerie Von's photography tome, Misery Obscura, no one has made the attempt to provide any sort of printed chronicle of the fathers of “horror punk”. James Greene Jr. takes a valiant stab.
Just to say, writing a book about Glenn Danzig and his former band is a Herculean task. There are, at least, two sides to their history. The first is from Danzig, who is notoriously private and, not to mention, difficult (to put it lightly). The second comes from bassist and man who sued for the right to perform under the “Misfits” name, Jerry Only. The truth is, maybe, somewhere in the middle. What Greene does is lay every piece of information out there without judgment. Aside from the legal documents referred, there is no way to decipher an exact definitive history.
The sheer amount of notes in the book and length of the bibliography do indicate some serious research. Add the index and discography (that was researched and provided by Mark Kennedy, from the great website Misfits Central), and that is 60 pages. The book itself is only 180. One third of this book is entirely referential. Perhaps this is indicative of how difficult it is to write a book about this band that isn't merely an exercise in sycophancy. Greene could have simply mooned over the band for chapters on end. He does provide solid reasons and examples of why and how the band is so revered. There is also plenty of balancing information to remind you that the Misfits were made up of some pretty flawed individuals.
For people new to the Misfits, This Music Stains will prove invaluable. It is a short but rich compilation of all known history of the band. For the more rabid fans, there are several amusing anecdotes involving “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Insane Clown Posse, the Kids In the Hall, and a man obsessed with pornographic images of women with Glenn Danzig's head pasted on to keep you interested. Despite its lack of girth, the book is a great resource for anyone interested in learning about some mooks that terrorized the Jersey Shore long before Snooki.
The book is available in paperback now through Taylor Trade Publishing. You can also visit the book's Tumblr site for a photographic companion.