For most Detroiters, every day is Halloween, given the quantity and quality of murders committed within its boundaries, the steam billowing out of the manhole covers downtown, the rape of the Big 3 by its own greedy rank and file – never mind the Japanese - and the sinking horror of realizing you’re responsible for The White Stripes.  Plenty of tricks, but not many treats.  The less said about the city’s inclination to burn itself to the ground every October 30th the better.

Local label Bellyache continues to fight the good fight, though, refusing to give up the corpse for dead, an enthusiastic supporter of what passes for the Murder City’s music scene since Meg, Jack, and the Von Bondies blew up and the A&R rodents scurried off into the night.  Well, alright, maybe the Von Bondies haven’t exactly blown up, but they did sign to a major label.  That has to count for something, doesn’t it?

“Ghoul’s Delight’s” timing is impeccable despite a few quality control issues, like the lack of detailed artist and track information, which is instead posted on Bellyache’s web site.  But the throwback retro cartoon artwork by Annette Walowicz and album dedications to the late Bobby “Boris” Pickett and local Saturday afternoon horror movie host Sir Graves Ghastly are nice touches.

Bonus points accrue for recognizing that by definition, any Detroit punk/garage compilation (especially one celebrating Halloween) must include The 3-D Invisibles and for slotting them once onto each disc.  “Go-Go Ghost” and “Gorilla Mummy” are rich in the tradition of twitchy, Universal Monster and EC comic-inspired songs Rick Mills and Chris Jude have been tinkering with down in the lab since 1982, when they captured lightning in a jar with the peerless “Love on Mars / Monster Island” 7-inch single.  How does Mills get that guitar sound?  Mick Green and Wilko Johnson need to know.

And while I still can’t seem to wrap my mind around the concept, Len Puch (now doing business as “Len Von Speedcult” in a shameless plug for his metal working business) has resurrected  the late, lamented (at least at my house) Snakeout with bassist Anthony Yacobelli and ex-Goober and the Peas/Detroit Cobras/Elvis Hitler/His Name Is Alive drummer Damian Lang, mixing muscular Dick Dale riffs with Tall Boys menace on “They Come Out of Their Graves.”  Puch, er, Von Speedcult spoke of a new album with the “Metro Times” back in 2005, but nothing yet.

The precocious Muldoon kids and their proud pa actually transcend “cute” for a change with a grinding, almost psychobilly “Building Franky,” making us all wonder just what we saw in Old Skull.  Speaking of psychobilly, the Koffin Kats veer dangerously close to Misfits territory with a Danzig-worthy “Bad Apple,” complete with background “O-o-o-o-‘s.”

Chad Roberts’ “Jack-O-Lanterns” brings to mind a maudlin Wally Pleasant and goes on for much too long, The Drinking Problem cry in their beer with the country send-up “When the Moon Is Full (I’m Only Half a Man),” and there’s a Dean Elliott vibe (no pun intended) clinging to Serenity Court’s “Puppet Bones” like Paris Hilton to a Chihuahua.

Elsewhere there are tributes to the Shangri-Las (Swamp Sisters – “Leader of the Wolf Pack”), Green Day (The Dewtons – “Trick or Treat (The Joke Is on You)),” the Jesus & Mary Chain (Dirtylovebites – “Livininsin”), 60’s power pop (Mike Elgert – “I Know You’re a Thief Now”), and The Ventures via Man or Astro-Man? (The Amino Acids – “Tor Johnson’s Remains”).  Throw in eye of newt, toe of frog, wool of bat, and tongue of dog alongside a couple of stalwart garage burners like Fortune & Maltese and The Phabulous Pallbearers and The Hentchmen and a chugging, stuttering, swinging “Calm & Murder” from Future Self and you have the perfect soundtrack for passing out candy on Halloween night.

A few bottles of suds may not hurt, either. - Clark Paull