"One of the interesting and unusual things with Warren [Zevon] was, with all of his issues, how productive he stayed. In many ways he got better creatively, he continued to grow. That is really the exception. Most of the people I met hanging out with Jackson [Browne], then Warren, in 1976, '77, '78, many of whom were very talented, weren't able to continue to be at their best, creatively speaking, twenty-five to thirty years later, which to me is a sign of greatness.
"For most genuinely great artists, it's a lifetime endeavor. They're at it forever. With Bruce Springsteen it's a lifetime endeavor. Bruce is still in there today trying to write the best song he ever wrote. Maybe he will, maybe he won't, but that's what he's interested in doing. He's as interested in it today as he was the day I met him. Warren was like that too, but with hime what was unusual was his level of perseverance mixed with the level of adversity for himself. It is a fascinating combination." -- Jon Landau
I think I'll begin recording sessions for the next album this week. I should have a little free time Wednesday and Thursday, though I will be pressed throughout the week with various other family related obligations, as usual. I'll take this album slow. It's absurd for me to predict a finish date as any of you know who've followed BOK for any length of time, but I'd like to be done with it by early Fall. I'd also like to have some other folks make contributions both vocally and instrumentally, but we'll have to see about that.
On this day in 2001, Bill Bird, Casey and Jane Firkin, Randy Simpson and I played our second and final gig at Electric Blue in Waynesboro. No big deal. I guess none of our gigs were ever a "big deal", of course, but it was, if I recall correctly, a weird night. I remember the stage was very high above the floor (probably three or four feet...I liked being on the floor with the crowd where I could interact with folks face to face) and someone (the owner, I presume) would set off smoke pots (which produced a sort of sickly sweet smoke that made it hard for me to breathe) during the show. The set list: If You Want It, Take It!, Cave In, Why Won't You?, Money, Gemini, Rain, Because Because, If I Asked You, Caroline, I Was Wrong, To Dream a New Dream, Running, Just an Average Day, I Hang Heavy-->Up in Flames-->I Can't Stand It Anymore, Don't Stop the Scream. There might be a tape of the practice the night before of this show. In fact, I vaguely recall releasing (or maybe just handing out a few copies of) a compact disc of it called PRELUDE TO ELECTRIC BLUE. Then again, maybe that was for the first show we played at Electric Blue. I don't know. I'll sniff around and see if I can find it. Maybe I'll upload a few tracks to the Music page if I can find anything worthwhile.
I think I've found my inspiration for the next album. In fact, I've already come up with the arrangement and rough chord progressions for the first song. I think I'll be pushing the arrangements into slightly odder directions this time. I want the songs to be catchy and melodic, but I also want them to veer off into unexpected territories as well.
On this day back in 2008 just two days after our final gig at The Luray Metal Fest, I tendered my resignation as the bassist/vocalist in The Plague Dogs. Though I'd had a great time playing with George Nipe III, Mike Hicks and Garfield Banks, I guess I always knew that I was biding my time in the band until I could get another version of Book of Kills up and running. It turns out, of course, that George, Mike, David Tekippe and I would go on to form one of the greatest BOK line-up's ever in October. By November, we'd be playing live shows.
Today I paid CDBaby for their distribution of a new Book of Kills album. No, I don't have a surprise album ready to go. CDBaby sent me a discount invitation for distribution of a new record and I decided to take advantage of the offer. Two things I want to do in 2021: Start a band and release an album of all new material.
If you view this page even just sporadically, you're probably aware that the KILLING TIME AGAIN! LIVE 2009 album is now available world-wide on all streaming/download sites. CDBaby took only about a week this time getting it ready. However, the cover that they used was NOT the cover I intended to use. They actually locked in what was simply a placeholder image that I needed to use to ready the rest of the submission for release. I'll put the "actual" cover on the photos page eventually and you can decide which one you like best.
Occasionally, when I hit these (regular) dry spells for updates, I'll get an email asking if everything's okay or if I've stopped updating the website (once I think I went about three weeks without a new post and that's when I really got some concerned inquires in the old virtual mailbox) and I have to reassure whoever sent the email that everything's okay. Right now I'm just very busy with other family/friend-oriented matters that leave me little time for doing much of anything else. Of course, when I catch the new album fever again, things will change and there'll be LOTS of updates.
I really wish I had the time and inclination to work on BOK stuff that I should be working on, such as new videos or a new podcast, and there will come a time when I produce some new stuff, but right now I'm afraid the hundreds and hundreds of JS/BOK songs out in the world already are just going to have to suffice. Here's a little something I'll try to do on a regular basis: I'll recommend a BOK song that I think perhaps has been "unfairly" forgotten. For starters, I'll submit for your approval the melancholy trio of tracks off 2007's DIFFERENT..."Fashion Right", "You Burn and You Know It" and "The Promised of the Lost Highway"? That album was created during a period of great sadness (my mother was dying) and great elation (first grandson Brooks was born) and, too, I was starting to feel my age. Those three songs, which run back to back to back on the album, remain some of my favorites. I worked hard on the instrumentation, lyrics and vocals. Give them a listen.
"One comes along, another one goes/The river ebbs, the river flows" -- You Burn and You Know It
Gosh, I haven't updated the news in nine days? My excuse is the usual: I've been exceptionally busy with family, friends, business and house demands. Honestly, there was a stretch of five or six days where I was going almost constantly from one thing to the next and I was so exhausted by the end of the day that, moments after I'd climb into bed, I'd fall asleep. There won't be any let-up over the next several upcoming days.
Today is Earth Day, right? On Earth Day of 1995 (actually April 22 of that year), the original Book of Kills line-up of George Finch, Brian Temples, Dusty Bugg and Jim played their final show together, a half-hour gig at a large Earth Day festival in Harrisonburg, VA. I was feeling pretty cantankerous that afternoon, since I knew the band was imploding, and decided to throw “Idiot Planet” (not the most politically correct song to play at an Earth Day show) into the set list. I remember looking at the festival organizer standing off to one side of the stage while his face darkened from a toothy smile to a tight lipped scowl as we chugged through the song and I barked out the lyrics: “Welcome to the Idiot Planet/You gotta be an idiot if you wanna live here.” It was all good for a laugh, I suppose, but my heart was hardly into the performance. The set list: Because Because, I Hang Heavy, A Story That Could Be True, Jesco White, Idiot Planet, Fade, Don't Stop the Scream, Lost, Create.
April was always one of the best months of the year for live BOK shows. I guess 'cause spring was finally here and we'd all be tired of spending too much time cooped up inside, not doing much of anything very productive. When March would roll around, I'd realize it was time to get my butt in gear and try to hustle some springtime gigs.
KILLING TIME AGAIN!, the "new" compilation of sixteen BOK live 2009 performances, is still not available for streaming, but it should be very soon now. CDBaby has finally gotten 'round to readying it for distribution.
I'll be chopping some of the previous entries off this page again soon. So if for some reason you wanna go back and read some of the stuff I wrote over since the beginning of 2021 you better do it soon!
No news really on the prospects for a new album. I have some ideas that have been rattling around in my head for a while now, but I can't say that I'm ready to start writing and recording.
I've received uniform positive feedback concerning the newly remixed and remastered tracks for the KILLING TIME AGAIN Live 2009 album. A few very faithful long-time fans will be receiving a 15 track compact disc of the album in the mail over the next couple weeks. The album will eventually be available to everyone on this website's store, as well as on all streaming/download sites around the world. The streaming version will contain one additional song, a recently discovered version of "Why Won't You?" from April 10, 2009 that I couldn't include on the cds. It's pretty hot.
On this day in 2003, Bill Bird, Randy Simpson, Jane Firkin, Casey Firkin and Jim played TWO shows at
Ferrum University. The first was played in the student union building. Strange. The set-list: Accidentally Naked, Running, Style-->Bad Person, Face, To Dream A New Dream, Why Won't You?, Sweet, Abandoned, Cave In, Rain, I Hang Heavy-->Up In Flames-->Can't Stand It Anymore. The second, an impromptu benefit show in a field outside the university attended by a large crowd of students and townies, proved to be one of BOK's greatest all-time performances. The set-list: If You Want It Take It, Accidentally Naked, Running, Style-->Bad Person, Money, Face, To Dream A New Dream, Don't Stop The Scream, Killing Time Again, Why Won't You?, Sweet, Abandoned, Cave In, Rain, I Hang Heavy-->Up In Flames-->Can't Stand It Anymore, Jesco White, To Dream A New Dream.
Some of you who've been long-time supporters of Book of Kills will be receiving a special compact disc over the course of the next two weeks. I hope you'll enjoy listening to it.
On this day in 1994, electrician Gary Smith, who was working at Kurt Cobain's house in Seattle, discovered Cobain's body lying on the floor of his greenhouse.
"I couldn’t shake him out of being depressed, I couldn’t cheer him up or get him to feel there was hope. I was just hoping that if the drugs got out of his system then he could think more clearly and that would be a good time to have better conversations with him. Of course I never was able to have such conversations." -- Danny Goldberg (Nirvana's former manager)
The entire live album (KILLING TIME AGAIN!) is now available for free streaming or download on the music page. It took hours and hours to nudge those fifteen songs into a better place sonically. That short-lived band deserved the time, effort and love, though. Remember, too, that you can download the insert for the (non-existent) compact disc version of the album as well. Will KILLING TIME AGAIN! show up eventually on Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, etc? I don't know. It costs a lot to upload albums to streaming services. While I'd like the album to be available for as long as people stream music, I'll decide somewhere down the road whether or not I want to upload it. In regards to the "album" cover...if I do indeed upload KILLING TIME AGAIN!, I'll include the cover with the upload. Otherwise, I'll keep it under wraps for the time being.
You can download the KILLING TIME AGAIN! (Live BOK 2009) insert originally intended for the compact disc by clicking here. This link will disappear in a week or so, so don't delay!
By the way, I've been informed that you couldn't download the new live songs I've posted thus far, but that problem has been taken care of. Please inform me of any problems you might encounter if you try to download a song or songs from the music page!
This is no April Fool's joke! The live 2009 album is going to be uploaded to the Music page where you can enjoy all fifteen tracks free! Of course, if you really feel magnanimous about all that audio goodness just being dumped into your ears by the grace of rock'n'roll, you could leave a tip, but free is free. I just plain grew weary of farting around with the recordings. Some of them sound quite good for being recorded live on a crappy little digital Zoom recorder; some of them don't sound so hot. Some of you will have most, if not all, of these recordings already, but I can guarantee you won't have them in this quality. I'm not going to upload everything all at once. I'll actually take several days to put everything up. And eventually, if I can figure out how to do it, I'll also upload the insert that was going to go in the compact disc version of the album. And it goes without saying that there will be no actual physical version of this collection. But the performances are too good not to see the light of day. I hope you enjoy them. Also...these downloads are .wav (CD quality) files. So be advised that they're quite large.
This live album has become very problematic for me. After all the work I've put into it, I listened again to all fifteen songs and found some of the mixes simply too muddy and/or harsh. I'm nearly at wit's end, to coin a phrase. A number of the tracks are fine--ready to go, in fact. But three or four are just not there sonically and I really don't know what more I can do in terms of mastering them. I suppose the problem tracks are as good, if not better sounding than, say, the Butthole Surfers's DOUBLE LIVE or Velvet Underground's LIVE AT MAX'S KANSAS CITY, but not by much. Everything's ready to go. Cover, insert, etc. But I just can't send it out in its current form. I'll think on it.
I'm essentially done with the live BOK album. It was a labor of love for me, not something (I'm aware) that many people will care all that much about. I've finished the editing/mixing/mastering process and the insert that I'll include with the compact disc version. I do have to come up with a cover still, but that won't take too long. I will upload it for streaming. I won't charge more than what it costs for me to make and mail it, as far as the physical version goes...probably no more than $4. As I said, this was a project to honor that band's short life.
The spring was always a good time for BOK shows. One of them happened on this day at The Little Grill, way back in 1995 when I was still playing with the original line-up of George Finch, Dusty Bugg and Brian Temples. The Necromantics were the opening band that evening. The set list: Because Because, A Story That Could Be True, Create, I Hang Heavy, Abandoned, Noiz, Don't Stop the Scream, Face, Jesco White, Lost, Heaven, Idiot Planet, Fat Woman Lying in the Road, Killing Time Again, Negative Creep. It's such as shame that there are almost no recordings of this bands live performances.
Yeah, this is a lot harder than I thought it would be. Unfortunately, very few recordings from 2009's precious few collection of live performances were very good. It was always almost impossibley difficult to set up my little Zoom digital recorder somewhere where the sound would be adequate without the recorder getting bumped into, yelled into, knocked over or stolen. So the sound is just not great and trying to make it sound presentable is next to impossible. But I'll keep trying. I'm still mastering stuff, attempting to somehow make a track sound less echo-y or the vocals sound less distant or the bass more prominent.
Sometimes, I use a professional recording I like as a reference when I'm mixing an album of my own. I was listening to Husker Du's (now deleted, I think) live album, THE LIVING END, as a reference for this collection I'm working on currently, and I began to think about just how freaking great "college rock"/"indie rock" was back in the '80s. I loved that era every bit as much, if not more, as the mid to late '60s stuff that I listened to as a kid. The Replacements, Husker Du, R.E.M., Van Halen, The Police, Jesus and Mary Chain, Pixies, The Cure, Sonic Youth, Joy Division, Dinosaur Jr, Buffalo Tom, U2, My Bloody Valentine, Talking Heads, Nine Inch Nails, Green Day, Fugazi, Pavement, Butthole Surfers, Blondie, Black Flag, XTC, the Cramps, Psychedelic Furs, Violent Femmes, Robyn Hitchcock, the Cars, Human League, B-52's, Devo, Peter Gabriel, Crowded House, Elvis Costello, the Go-Go's, Squeeze, the Bangles, Cyndi Lauper, Men at Work, Television, Marshall Crenshaw, Nils Lofgren, and on and on...and that's just off the top of my head!
Finished remixing "Different". Now I'll begin the relatively quick process of putting each song through a final mastering (which involves making sure all fourteen songs have the same volume level, touching up equalization, fixing any last sonic artifacts, etc). I'll also work on the insert and maybe finish it up today (the insert, that is). It's not going to be long before I turn my attention to beginning a new album. I want badly to have a go with one last great live band, but the headwinds against that dream are strong.
The live BOK album will feature 14 remastered (and sorta remixed) tracks spanning most of 2009. I still have one more song ("Different") to work on. This has been much more labor intensive than I imagined it would be, but that's usually the way most of my projects go, eh? The album will see an extremely limited compact disc release some time next week. I'll be working on the insert (slim disc style) over the weekend when I have a few free moments. Honestly, I'm getting to the point where I'm not sure that releasing compact discs makes a whole lot of sense considering the extra work it takes and the fact that almost no one seems to care about CDs anymore. I'll keep putting them out at least through 2021, however.
Speaking of live albums, if you're a Neil Young fan and you haven't heard his and Crazy Horse's latest record WAY DOWN IN THE RUST BUCKET, you really owe it to yourself to give it a listen. It was recorded back in 1990 which was a prime NY/CH era for live performances. I think the only live Neil album that I like better is LIVE AT THE FILLMORE EAST, though LIVE RUST and ARC-WELD are certainly up there. WAY DOWN is just such joyous music, though. LIVE RUST and ARC-WELD seem a bit more...um...serious.
I was reminded that Neil Young's RUST NEVER SLEEPS was not a double live album. That is correct. It was, however, a live album with a lot of "sweetening", but then again most live albums go through a sweetening process...that is, a bum note is replaced or perhaps an off-pitch vocal or an additional couple backing vocals are added.
Did you know, for example, that according to recording engineer Eddie Kramer, 90 percent of the vocals and guitars on KISS ALIVE had to be replaced. Only the drums were live. Peter Criss' vocals and the in-between song banter provided the foundation to re-record everything else. For their second live record, KISS ALIVE II, the band rented the Capitol Theater in Passaic and recorded it there with no audience, then dubbed in the "crowd" later.
Even Cheap Trick's LIVE AT BUDOKAN was extensively re-recorded. Rumor has it most of the guitar solos were re-done, a second rhythm guitar was added to most tracks by lead guitarist Rick Nielsen, extra vocals were recorded, and (according to bassist Tom Petersson) all of the bass parts were overdubbed in the studio.
The Grateful Dead's EUROPE '72, according to some "in the know", was as much a studio creation as it was a live document with extensive guitar and vocal overdubs. Even The Who's LIVE AT LEEDS, often cited as the greatest live album of all time, featured some fairly substantial re-recording/overdubbing.
Oh well. They're still all great records. So that's what counts. Unfortunately for Book of Kills, live shows were recorded on a two track portable recorder; there's no multi-track of a live performance to go back to re-record.
I want to finish the live thing by the end of this coming week. I'm thinking it'll include no more than a dozen tracks, maybe fewer. Sometimes, when it comes to live recordings, less is way more. GET YOUR YAS YAS OUT by the Rolling Stones, ROCK AND ROLL ANIMAL (the original version) by Lou Reed, and LIVE AT LEEDS (the original six track version) by The Who are still probably my three favorite live records of all time. Obviously there have been tons of great double record live albums (LIVE DEAD, CONCERT FOR BANGLA DESH, ROCK OF AGES, VU LIVE 1969, AT BUDOKAN, RUST NEVER SLEEPS, BOB DYLAN LIVE 1966, THE "ROYAL ALBERT HALL" CONCERT, 4 WAY STREET, etc.) but, after a half an hour or so, I find my attention wandering listening to those recordings. Short and sweet has its place.
Early on the morning of this day in 1995, Gary Bugg and I pulled into Gary's driveway in Harrisonburg, Virginia, after a late night show at the legendary J.C. Dobbs in Philadelphia. The Set List: Killing Time Again, Don't Stop the Scream, I Hang Heavy, Fade, A Story That Could Be True, Idiot Planet, Fat Woman Lying in the Street, Jesco White, Abandoned, Lost, Because Because, Create, Negative Creep.
Here's an account of the show from THE BALLAD OF JIM SHELLEY:
"I'd made contact in January with someone from Philadelphia (through a usenet newsgroup) who played in a Ramones-like punk band called Doctor Bob's Nightmare; he asked me if BOK would like to play a show at the famous J.C. Dobbs nightclub in downtown Philly in exchange for a gig in Harrisonburg. I naturally agreed. J.C. Dobbs had played host to hundreds of great rock and roll shows by some of the '80s and '90s greatest bands, including my latest musical heartthrob, Nirvana; how could I say no? Thorazine was going to share the bill with us, too. At the time, they were fairly well-known since some drug company was suing them for using one of their drug products as their band name. They were actually pretty good.
"The day before the show, Brian caught a terrible case of the flu. I was afraid we'd have to cancel, but Brian said he would gut it out. I had to admire his grit. I would've been home in bed if I had come down with what he had. We stuffed everything into Gary's van and took off for Philadelphia. Gary and I had already called in sick for the next day, so we considered staying up in Philly after the gig. Brian and Dusty went up separately with some friends, including Dusty's sister, Amy.
"After finding the nightclub and (of course) getting some cheese steak subs, we parked the van and went inside where we met the guy with whom I'd arranged the show, though not before noticing the promotional flier which touted our main claim to fame being that we hailed “from West Virginia”. We were scheduled to fill the so-called head-lining spot which turned out to be after 12:30 (on a work night). We wandered up to the backstage waiting room which was famous for just about every band who'd ever played J.C. Dobbs having signed the walls and ceiling. Management had kindly left a black Sharpie on a table in the middle of the room that I assumed was a clear invitation for us to join the crowd in whatever space on the ceiling we could find. I found the spot where Kurt Cobain had written “Nirvana” along with the date they'd played and wrote “Book Of Kills” next to it.
"By the time we hit the stage, twenty-five or thirty people were left in the audience and I realized that we'd been played. Regardless, we delivered a ferocious thirteen-song set. Brian, as sick as he was, rocked like a demon. His rendition of “Negative Creep” was almost supernatural in its intensity. I don't know that I've ever been involved in a more perfectly played concert. Our entire performance was captured on a multi-track reel-to-reel from the sound board. I asked the sound man if we could get a copy of it and he assured me that if I gave him my mailing address he'd make sure to send me a cassette. I even gave him $5 to cover costs. Never heard from him again. The club closed in 1996.
"Brian, Dusty and the rest of their troupe decided to drive home the next morning and found a motel for the night. Gary and I ended up making the drive home that evening, arriving at his house at exactly the time our school principal (he lived next door to Gary) was leaving for work. I don't know if he saw us crawling across the yard on our bellies, laughing all the while, and cowering behind the hedges or not."
I don't have much else to write about (still working on the live album) and I do try to keep this page pretty current, so I thought I'd check out all-time streaming/download/physical sales (in order) for the BOK/Fear + Whiskey albums that are currently available in some form or another. As I've said oftentimes before, this is something that's probably a lot more interesting to me than to any of you, but for what it's worth...
The Twelve All-Time Most Popular BOK/Fear + Whiskey Albums In Order (As of March 10, 2021)
1. Songs for a Played Out Generation (2004)
2. WASP 51! (2003)
3. The Haunted Life (1992)
4. In My Room – The Best of Book of Kills, Volume One (1994)
5. I Know We Can Save Our World (2020)
6. The Fear + Whiskey Anthology (2013)
7. Big Business Monkey, Volume Six (2018)
8. Different (2007)
9. All About You (2002)
10. Saint Judas (1995)
11. The Strange One – Outtakes & Demos (2010)
12. Detritus (1994)
It's kinda strange to me how these albums seem to constantly change position, except for SONGS FOR A PLAYED OUT GENERATION, though even that one (the first BOK album ever made available for download, before streaming existed) is fast losing ground to several of the other albums. See one you've never listened to? Check it out online! And don't forget to tell your friends and neighbors all about BOK!
Still working on the live thing. It's slow slow slow going. I have six tracks completed. They do sound significantly better than the originals.
Believe it or not, I actually started messing around with the very beginning of a new song. I'm thinking that this album will be a little more complex in the arrangements than perhaps anything I've tried in a while.
I think I'm beginning to get those old familiar first little urges way deep in the nether regions of the right side of my brain. It takes a while for the urges to work their way out into the sunlight.
I'll be deleting all remaining 2020 entries on this page in the next few days, so if you feel the desire to go back and read any old entries, do it soon!
Kind of slow working on the LIVE (2008-2010) album. I had forgotten just how rough the recordings were. Trying to make these tracks more sonically presentable is not easy. I'm also considering subbing in other performances here and there and I'm quite certain that I'll shorten the album down to perhaps 14-15 tracks in addition to rearranging the running order of the songs. I will add an expanded CD insert probably with brief notes on each song. I doubt very much that there'll be any sort of special collage covers, though I could change my mind, of course.
Right now, at least until I feel the urge to start writing new material (and who knows when that'll be), I've decided to return to a little remembered BOK album (if you can even call it that) from 2010, Book of Kills Live (2008-2010). Though this collection (featuring performances by Jim Shelley, George Nipe III, Mike Hicks and--off and on--David Tekippe) was released in extremely limited quantities (I think maybe ten copies? I don't know 'cause I don't even have one!) as an 18 track compact disc, it did show up, expanded to 20 tracks, on 2018's The Archive Project.
It's funny...I'd nearly forgotten that I had ever put the thing out in the first place. It's not even listed in the website discography.
Now that I have decent remastering software, I can give those recordings a little love and tenderness and provide them with some additional dynamic range and breathing room. I can, to a degree, actually "remix" them (technically not possible since they were all simply stereo recordings made on an old Zoom H2 recorder) by isolating each instrument in the original recording through a rather complicated process involving equalization and selective compression and then remixing those isolated tracks into a faux stereo field.
I learned this little trick from Apple Records who did this very thing with The Beatles's famous BBC recordings. If I do manage to make it through the entire record (20 tracks), I might well re-release it on compact disc and as a streaming album. It actually shouldn't take nearly as long as dropping an all-new collection.
I'm also considering writing and recording a third podcast. That's actually a fairly daunting and quite time-consuming process, so I have to really be ready to put in a lot of effort to tackle another one of those things.
I am beginning to believe that there's a better than 50-50 chance that there will be one more version of Book of Kills before all is sad and done and that it will indeed play some live shows and perhaps even record new material. I'd love to try out some of the dozens of new songs that I've written and recorded in the 3 1/2 years since BOK last played a gig in front of living breathing human beings.
Did you know that Brian Wilson began recording "Good Vibrations" on this day in 1966? Actually he began work on the song the day before, but the initial sessions on that day had yielded a more R&B type thing that Wilson quickly rejected. The next day (the 18th) Wilson hit upon the arrangement that would turn into what many folks consider the greatest rock single of all time. It would take 16 total sessions and over 90 hours to bring the song to fruition.
Bob Stinson died of a drug overdose on this day in 1995. The Replacements were never the same after he was let go.
Finally! I'm usually pretty tech-savvy when it comes to website stuff, but for some reason I couldn't figure out the (extremely simple) way to put up merchandise on the bookofkills.com store. Until now! I just finished listing the I KNOW WE CAN SAVE OUR WORLD (remember that one?), EVERY DREAM HAS ITS GHOSTS, and I'M HIGHER THAN I'M DOWN compact discs for sale. In the days to come, since I know what I'm doing now, I'll be creating listings for lots more stuff including rare artwork, t-shirts and other JS/BOK related stuff!
Well, as is usual after I release a new album, I've taken time to simply step away from music for a few days. During those times when I'm immersed in recording a bunch of new material, I'm really immersed....from the moment I wake up till the moment I go to bed, my mind is crowded, make that over-crowded, with constant music in my head. I need a little time off just to clean out my head when I'm finally done with my latest project.
Got my second vaccine shot today. I have to admit I feel a little off-kilter. It's kind of hard to concentrate, but I don't really feel bad. I hope you guys are able to get your own vaccine shots soon if you haven't already gotten them...that is, if you want them.
I don't know what I'll do next musically. But you guys will be among the first to know, as always.
By the way, I've really tried to set up the store and I just can't seem to figure out what to do to make the items available. If you use Bandzoogle and could give me some pointers, let me know!
The compact discs for those of you who downloaded all of the "obscure '60s" tracks from the Music Page have been mailed or will be mailed by this afternoon. Considering how backlogged the Post Office is these days, there's no telling when you'll get yours, but please be patient. If you don't get it within two weeks, please email me. Speaking of the Music Page, I have taken all of the original mixes down. I hope you enjoy the new record! I worked really hard on the remixes/remasters. In fact, I actually remixed one of the songs earlier today yet again. And by the time I upload them for streaming distribution, I might well have remixed one or two yet again.
I think I'm still on track to wrap up this album by Friday. I do need to get a few things, mainly ink, that I need for printing the CD insert and I'm still making tweaks to the masters, but I don't see any major roadblocks to getting this finished sooner than later. The album will be fairly bare bones. It's all about the music, right? I'll be uploading everything early next week and I'm expecting the album to be available on Apple Music, Spotify and all the other sites by the end of next week.
Here's an excerpt from THE BALLAD OF JIM SHELLEY concerning BOK's 2/1/2003 show:
"Our final show of 2002 had been another benefit, this time an early afternoon slot at a large local bar called Alston's Pub. Randy hadn't been able to get free from Ferrum, so we went on as a quartet. Although we played well, the crowd was smallish and we didn't put a whole lot of energy into the performance. I felt a certain malaise within the band, though perhaps my own state of mind colored my perception of what was going on. However, I guess we impressed Alston's owner enough that when I called him in January and asked if we could set up a headlining show (I'd suggested we do a relatively low-pressure week night show), he agreed and told us we could have a coveted Saturday slot. “We'll look at this as a test gig,” he added. “I've been thinking about letting local bands have some weekends. If you guys can pull in a big crowd, I'll give you some more future gigs and think about opening up some weekends for other local bands.”
"Talk about pressure.
"Harrisonburg had been (and continues to be to this day) a poor place for supporting local musicians, other than the various bands who spewed out the same boring classic rock and modern country covers weekend after weekend. Now little ol' Book Of Kills was being asked to serve as a test band to see whether or not Alston's would let other local rockers have their shot at headlining the biggest venue in the area for live music?
"I printed dozens of fliers and tacked them up all over town. I notified the various rock and roll stations in the area and got them to advertise the show for us. Without my asking, my wife Mary Lou—who'd never really taken an active role in promoting my music—suddenly took it upon herself to make sure we'd be successful. She emailed and phoned just about everyone she knew, imploring them all to come to the BOK gig on February 1, pleading with them to bring their friends as well. She didn't let up until the afternoon of the concert.
"I was astounded to see over two hundred bodies pay their way into Alston's that night. Mary Lou's work had definitely paid off. I think we were all pretty nervous, but we were equally charged up by the challenge of winning over this unexpectedly large crowd. We didn't technically come close to giving our best performance, but I don't think any of us ever played with more intensity than we did that night. The set list was perfectly constructed so that through a series of ebbs and flows in energy that slowly built to an orgasmic climax, we had the room in the palms of our sweaty hands. By the end of our usual show-stopping medley which started with “Why Won't You?”, flowed into a surging jam and then concluded with an absolutely killer version of Lou Reed's “I Can't Stand It Anymore”, the crowd had gone bonkers for us. (Katy Melton and a friend of hers filmed the entire show and I turned the footage into a DVD a couple months later; the excitement we generated that evening is very palpable. During a couple songs, you can even see the Alston's owner dancing from one end in front of the stage to the other.)
"We had definitely come through in the clutch. I figured for once we would make a tidy little piece of pocket change. We had drawn a lot of people at $5 a head; admission tickets alone had brought in close to $1000. The crowd, consisting largely of 30-50 year old's, must have easily racked up at least another couple thousand in food and drink. Imagine my chagrin when each of us received less than $25 for our efforts. Pocket change indeed. I was angry, but hardly surprised. Why did venues in Harrisonburg always seem to delight in treating local talent shabbily? After all that work, to have been ripped off so badly just put me in a worse frame of mind than ever as far as the future of the band went."
Ha! I thought I'd uploaded the 2/1 notes but apparently I didn't...
There's an outside chance that I could mail the "free" compact discs of the new album out by this Friday. Not saying I will, of course. But I'm really close to being done. I still have to do a final master of all time songs, but that's about it. And I guess I have to tweak the CD insert.
On this day in 2001, Book of Kills played Alston's in Harrisonburg, Virginia, along with Clyde Wrenn and Walnut Grove. The set list: Accidentally Naked, Style-->Bad Person, Clever, Then I Kissed Her, Gemini, To Dream A New Dream, Cave In, Stanley The Steamer, Jesco White, Bikini Radio, The Antiman Song, Sweet, Why Won't You?-->Can't Stand It Anymore, Money.
Sometimes I get so close to the songs I'm recording that I completely lose all sense of objectivity and everything I've done starts to sound bad. But I know if I just step away from it all for a day or so and then go back to the songs, that they'll sound much better on a subsequent listen. I have continued to tinker with the re-re-mixes, but I'm pretty close to done with them before I master each reduction of the multi-tracks. Listening to what I have this morning, I began to think that this album is going to go down as one of BOK's better. Honest. I do, however, think I'm going to reduce the number of songs to an even dozen. It flows better that way. The unlucky leftover will probably find its way onto a future Big Business Monkey compilation. I'm almost done with the front cover design, by the way.
I had several hours today to devote to re-mixing the songs and was able to complete all thirteen of them. As I mentioned previously, I'll now import each reduction into a new multi-track file and add a few odds and ends to each song. I don't expect to have much time to do any more recording, however, till early next week, though I doubt I'll need more than two or three hours time to do everything I need to do. Supposedly we're going to get 4"-6" of snow starting tonight, though, so I might have more free time than I think. I also began work on the cover for the insert. The insert's not going to be any terribly elaborate thing. I'll create a new collage for the front and write up a few notes along with the song listings and that'll be it!
By the way, the current mixes available for download right now are going to disappear in a day or two, so get them soon if you want them!
Early Thursday morning I sat down to search for one last song that I could cover. Nothing. And I realized that I was just plain done with the whole thing. Thirteen songs was enough. So instead of preparing to figure out the arrangement for another '60s garage gem, I began instead the long process of re-mixing the thirteen tracks I'd already completed. Of course the word "completed" hardly applies to this process. Not one of the songs is actually done. So what I did was re-mix nine songs. That took several hours. I did a reduction of each song. I hope to create reductions for the final four songs by the end of the weekend. (By "reduction" I mean I mixed all of the individual tracks of each multi-track file into a stereo mix.)Then I'll import all of these reductions into new multi-track files and add additional vocal and instrumental touches. I think if you've followed this project from the start and downloaded each song, you're going to be quite surprised at how different (and how much better) the compact disc versions will sound compared to the quick mixes I uploaded for downloads. This will take probably the better part of another week. I'll also be working on an appropriately psychedelic cover for the album as well. As you're probably aware, of course, if you've downloaded all of the previous tracks, you're going to receive a "free" copy of the album. Please be patient. It could be a couple weeks before everything is done.
I'm pretty much finished with the thirteenth track. I think it'll probably show up on the music page this evening. I still have to work out a few minor things in the mix. It's easily the rockin' equal of any of the songs I've recorded so far. This one could possibly cause a minor earthquake if I were to perform it live with a real band. Well, I can't stop at 13 so I guess I better be searching for one last obscure gem.
I had every intention of cutting the project off at twelve tracks. Then I came across a song I knew I had to do. Drums are already done and I've laid down a rhythm guitar track as well. So...guess that kinda throws off the rest of the time line. Well, whatever. It'll be done when it's done. I do really like this new song. I'm surprised I'd never heard it till now. But really...the treasure trove of forgotten psychedelic/garage rock from the mid to late sixties seems to me to be almost limitless.
I will begin the rather lengthy process of remixing the twelve songs I recorded for my little '60s garage/psychedelic obscurities project this week. Too, I have to come up with a title, as well as a label and insert design. It'll be interesting to go back and listen to what I've recorded. I haven't returned to any of the songs since I recorded them, beginning way back on November 17 of this past year. Seems like a lifetime ago! Anyway, I wouldn't look for anything to be completed by next week. I'd say it would be more likely that everything will be completed by the first week of February. By the way, if you downloaded all twelve of the songs, it might not be a bad idea to remind me. You will be receiving a free compact disc, of course. If you do email, make sure to include your mailing address!
It's worth noting that on this day in 1962, Brian Epstein signed a management contract with The Beatles.
The brilliant Warren Zevon was born on this day in 1947. One of the greatest concerts I ever saw was Warren with a backing band of young musicians from Ireland called Something Happens at The Crossroads in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 31, 1995.
I am probably about 80% done with the twelfth song. Right now, I'm thinking that #12 will put a wrap on this immensely fun project. I'll turn my attention to re-mixing everything and putting together a compact disc for those of you who downloaded all twelve songs. Speaking of #12, I'm sure it will be ready for download within a couple days...at least no later than Sunday. Whatever free time I have next week I'll devote to readying the album for its physical and digital forms. As I mentioned before, I'm leaning towards not doing any special collage editions of this one. Just not feeling it.
And the hits just keep a-comin'! #11, "1 - 2- 5", was originally written and recorded by Montreal's The Haunted back in 1966. Though it was a pretty big hit in Canada, it never had much success in the States. A shame. #12 is in sight. Will there be a 13 and 14? Hard to say. If it's in the stars, it's in the stars.
...And it's on to #11. I've already got the song picked out...this time a forgotten '60s underground classic by a band that hailed from Montreal, Canada...a grinder every bit as awesome as "Louie Louie". I'm laying down the drum track right now. Should be fun. But then...they've all been fun.
#10 is finished and ready for download! This song ("Faces"...originally recorded by The Hangmen) was not quite as difficult as the last two, but it had its challenges. Very different song and a ton of fun to do. If you've been following this series from the start, you know that this is the second song by The Hangmen that I've done. Really like that group. Evidently they were quite the bomb live. I'm not so sure now that I'm going to go for a fourteen song album. Though I might have a bit more free time over the next two weeks than I normally do, For various reasons, I'm not so sure I'll be able to devote a lot of it to making music. I'll take it day to day and we'll see what happens.
Randy Simpson sent me seven vintage Book of Kills fliers earlier today. I doubt I've even ever seen more than a couple of them in the past twenty years, if ever. They're already posted on one of the photograph pages. Check 'em out!
I've already come up with song #10. Once again, it's very different in style from the other songs I've thus far recorded. I don't think it will quite pose the difficulties of the last two songs but it's a really interestingly structured little 2 1/2 minute piece of pop psychedelia. In the mid to late '60s many American garage bands came under the sway of Bob Dylan (really), The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Kinks, and in the case of the band whose song I'm going to cover next, the Yardbirds. Though the Yardbirds have largely faded into the heavy mists of time past, they were quite influential in their time. Today they might be best known for having featured both Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck as lead guitarists. You might remember them for their handful of exceptional hits which still receive occasional air play on classic rock stations..."Heart Full of Soul", "For Your Love", "Train Kept A-Rollin'", "Over Under Sideways Down", "I'm a Man" (extremely influential in its time), "Evil Hearted You", and "Shapes of Things". More than one rock critic has labeled 1966's "Shapes of Things" as the first psychedelic rock classic. It predates the release of The Beatles's "Paperback Writer" by three months.
"Sometimes when I do an overdub solo, they'll keep four or five of my attempts and then mix the bits that they like to make a solo up out of them. It's not against the rules, really - I can learn my own solos, then. But that's the whole beauty of multi-track recording, isn't it?"
"If the song makes it and people like it, then I guess that's all that matters, really."
"I like an element of chaos in music. That feeling is the best thing ever, as long as you don't have too much of it."
-- Jeff Beck
#9 is in the can and ready for download! This one (Sounds Unlimited's "A Girl As Sweet As You") probably was more labor intensive than any of the songs I've recorded thus far. Little '60s pop masterpieces can be dauntingly complex. I haven't thought about #10 yet. I doubt that it'll be available before late next week, but as we've seen that could change! I'll start looking soon. I'm not sure what direction I want to go for the next track. I suppose it's best just to let the song choose itself as the first nine all have.
I worked on the drums, bass and rhythm guitar parts, as well as the lead vocal of song #9 today. I think I'll be able to wrap it up tomorrow, if I can find 3-4 hours of "free" time. As usual, one of the most difficult parts of the recording process has been getting satisfactory vocals down. I think this project has really helped make me a little better musician. This little pop song has been much more difficult than I originally supposed it would be, particularly the bass part (after the vocals, that is) which was actually pretty complex...at least for me. But I was able to do the bass and guitar parts, realize they needed to be in a different key and run right through the new parts in a new key in a matter of minutes, something that would've once taken me hours to do. Working out these cover songs has sort of forced me to learn new approaches to songwriting and to arranging and playing parts I would never have thought to tackle in the past. I'm really glad I somehow stumbled onto this idea. Here's hoping #9 is in the can by tomorrow evening!
I think I've got #9 picked out. You might be surprised to know that sometimes whether or not I do a particular song depends upon if I can decipher the lyrics which is not always an easy task when you're talking about garage band records from the '60s which often "suffered" at the hands of barely competent producers and engineers who were usually churning out new material as fast as it could be written and played. This one is going to be much lighter, much poppier. I've always had a soft spot for catchy pop stuff from the mid to late '60s. This album will surely have a place for a couple of songs that fit that particular bill.
It must be noted that on this day in 1935 Elvis Aaron Presley was born in his parents' two room house in East Tupelo, Mississippi. Ten years later on this date, Elvis received his first guitar for his birthday.
On this day in 1966, The Beatles' RUBBER SOUL hit number one on the U.S. album charts where it stayed for the next six weeks.
In light of what has transpired in Washington, D.C. over the past couple days, recording psychedelic pop songs seems to be rather a supremely superfluous endeavor. But on the other hand, not giving up and not giving in in the face of all these existential threats to the American Constitution seems not so unimportant to me. (That's a lot of "not's".)
I'm pretty much done with #8. It was, I think, the hardest song in this series for me to do. And, as I said a couple days ago, I'll be glad to move on to #9. I'm still mixing and mastering, but it should be available for download by later this evening. I want to emphasize yet again that all of these songs will be carefully revisited when this project is completed and given a new mix. The key right now is speed. I want to record and release this material quickly without laboring over each song too long.
#8 is about 90% done. I don't think I'll have any time to work on it Wednesday, but I hope that I'll have some time to wrap it up Thursday. It has a very difficult lead guitar part that essentially winds through the entire song. It was somewhat difficult to sing effectively in a key that I could handle. It's an interesting song, but I think I'll be glad to move on to the next track.
Top Twenty-Five BOK Songs For 2020 (According to YouTube, Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, etc.):
1. Dink's Song (Fare Thee Well My Darling)
2. The Night John Lennon Died
3. Jesco White
4. The Man In The Long Black Coat
6. I Know We Can Save Our World
7. You Couldn't Give Anymore (Turtle's Song)
8. Fade (The Ballad Of Kurt Cobain) (2009 Version)
9. Strange Heart Beating
10. Heart's Wisdom Has The Power
11. To Dream A New Dream (2009 Version)
12. Lost (1994 Version)
13. Ah Ahh Ahhh!
14. The Danger That Can Drive You Home (This Is Your Book of Kills Version)
15. New James Shelley Blues
16. Religion Is That I Love You
17. Then I Kissed Her (Live)
18. The Shape Of Your Eyes Goes Round My Heart (Extended Version)
19. Pineapple Dog
20. Your World Will Shape My Bones (Extended Version)
21. (I Just Wanna Be) Normal
22. O To Be My Father's Dragon
23. Glass Turns To Sand (2008 Version
24. Two Odds Make An Even
25. I Roam The World Between Your Thighs
Hey, I just recorded 'em. You all decided which ones to listen to!
Fun Fact: Last month BOK songs were streamed on YouTube 1068 times. Payment from YouTube - 41 cents.
I'll have parts of a couple days this coming week to work on #8. No predictions. But recording these songs has been simpler for the most part than writing and recording my own stuff.
It's simply easier to work up covers of other people's songs. No coming up with chord progressions; no figuring out drum, bass, guitar and keyboard parts; no coming up with lyrics (as you probably know, the hardest part of songwriting for me by far); no melody writing (not so hard really); etc. I just build each track around what someone else has already done. I can see why many older musicians often turn to recording full albums of covers. Since 2009, for example, four of Bob Dylan's new releases have been collections of other writers' standards. Covering other bands' songs is also a good way to break yourself out of what can become overly familiar patterns of song construction.
On this day in 1970, The Beatles took part in their last recording session together to produce new material until 1996 when George, Paul and Ringo reunited to record "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love". John Lennon, of course, had been dead for 16 years by that point. Strangely enough, only George, Paul and Ringo took part in the January 1970 session which yielded George's "I Me Mine". That song, as originally recorded, was only one minute and thirty-four seconds long. After Phil Specter was hired to re-produce the LET IT BE album, he edited the song into its final two minute and twenty-four seconds version.
"Although I have guitars all around, and I pick them up occasionally and write a tune and make a record, I don't really see myself as a musician. It may seem a funny thing to say. It's just like, I write lyrics, and I make up songs, but I'm not a great lyricist or songwriter or producer. It's when you put all these things together - that makes me." -- George Harrison
New Years Eve! Bleh. My least favorite "holiday".
I have settled on the next song (that would be #8). It's a great psychedelic guitar freakout type thing that I can't wait to tackle! It's going to be hard, but I like the challenge of putting together reasonably decent cover versions of these great old songs.
Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac on this day in 1974. I've always really like Buckingham. He's got a great pop sensibility, knows how to put together killer arrangements, and has more than a touch of eccentricity that gives even his biggest hits just a bit of oddness. I mean, "Tusk" is pretty damned weird for a top ten single, right?
" I'm not that knowledgeable with the guitar - I just find ways that are pretty creative, but it's all within the framework and the limitations of what I can do."
"I don't read music. I've never had a lesson. I don't know anything about music other than what my inner knowledge is."
"When I work alone, it can be like dabbling with a canvas. Maybe you paint over bits, and it starts to form its own life and lead you off in a direction. It becomes an intuitive, subconscious process."
"I love to be in the studio. That's what I like to do best."
-- Lindsey Buckingham