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
#7 is here! I really like this one. It's just different. While I've definitely applied the BOK patina, it still somehow seems unlike just about anything I've done before, except maybe "The Strange One", which I always thought was kind of a nice '60s garage homage. Anyway, hope you like this one! It's 1968's "Keep On Pushing" by the Moon Dawgs from New Orleans. As I noted in the last entry, I think they only ever released two 45's, though I'm not certain about that. I love their original version, of course. Mine strays just a little from their arrangement. In a good way. As I've said from the start, I can't hope to compete with the originals that I'm covering, but I'm sure having a great time trying.
I've been dropping these new songs pretty quickly as of late, but I think I'll take a breather till next week, though I will figure out which song I want to tackle next.
I've already laid down the drums and bass for song #7. This one is really obscure. I believe the band (hailing from New Orleans) who originally recorded this one only released a couple vinyl 45's during their brief existence. It's different. Certainly not like any of the other songs I've recorded previously. But it's still garage and it's still psychedelicized. Yes, "psychedelicized" is a real word. Don't bother looking it up to see if I'm right. I will have (ostensibly) 2-3 hours to work on finishing this recording tomorrow, so keep your fingers crossed. I'm having so much fun searching out these old songs and giving them my own spin, by the way, that I might even go past the 11-12 track projected limit (a la '60s American ups) and try for 14 (a la '60s British lps). In case you're unaware of what I'm talking about, back in the '60s American albums tended to be 11-12 tracks long, while most British records tended to feature 14 tracks. The Beatles took this practice to an extreme, often refusing to include their latest single (or singles) on their current album. American Beatles albums, on the other hand, usually ran 11-12 tracks in length and almost always featured the group's current hits. This way, Capital Records (The Beatles American label) could actually stockpile songs and create more albums to sell, the most notorious examples probably being A HARD DAY'S NIGHT, HELP!, RUBBER SOUL and REVOLVER.
Surprise! I had several hours of free time yesterday and today and finished #6, "It Ain't How Long", originally released in 1968 by The Weeds (also known as The Lollipop Shoppe). This is the first track with some keyboards on it. It's a good ol' three chord thing...my kind of song! Go to the music page to download it or hear a preview.
Halfway done! On to #7.
Hope you had a great Christmas. We did. Got to see our kids and spend some time with some good friends.
The fifth song, of course, is available on the Music page. I've already gone on to number 6. Today I laid down the drums and bass, as well as two guitar tracks. This one will have an organ on it, too. That always takes me a while, since I don't actually know how to play keyboards, but somehow I power through it and end up with something that's not too terribly bad! (See EVERY DREAM HAS ITS GHOSTS!) I could well be done with #6 tomorrow. It's not nearly as technically difficult as was #5, but it's just as good, just quite different.
Merry Christmas! I hope you're having a relatively safe and peaceful holiday season.
Thanks so much to those of you who have listened to (and told others about) Book of Kills/Fear + Whiskey/Karl Rove music in 2020. I could never convey how deep my appreciation is for your appreciation of the music that I, and--over the years, many of my friends--have made purely for the love of making tunes that I/they hope you'll cherish.
I "finished" the fifth song of my ongoing '60s music project late last night. Keep in mind that, as I've said here before on more than one occasion, I'll be remixing, as well as adding additional vocal/instrumental touches on (probably) all of these songs when it comes time to collect them together as an album compilation. This new one has been by far the most difficult to bring to fruition. I simply must be more careful in picking songs that I can sing satisfactorily in the near future. That said, I think I like this one the best of the ones I've thus far completed. It's called "Small Faces" and was originally committed to vinyl back in 1968 by the Sacramento, CA band Public Nuisance. You can search out their music on the compact disc GOTTA SURVIVE and, of course, on Spotify and Apple Music. My version can't begin to compete with theirs, but I gave it the old college try. You can find out a lot more about Public Nuisance, who, by the way, never formally released an album until GOTTA SURIVE in 2002, which was actually a compilation of demos and outtakes.
I'll be releasing this latest track later this evening on the music page. It will be free! Merry Christmas!!!
Still working on #5. It might be "clunky" but it's also pretty complicated.
It's just gonna be harder than ever to find time to work on new songs over the next week and a half. Come the end of the holidays things will calm down a bit and I hope I'll then get the project back on track.
I think #5 has been the most fun for me thus far. I don't know why really. It's certainly a very obscure song from a very (unjustifiably) obscure California band and it's kinda clunky with kinda clunky psychedelic lyrics but maybe that's why I like it so much. I'm really hopeful I can find seven more songs that inspire and excite me as much as this one has!
Ronnie Wood joined The Rolling Stones on this day way back in 1975. I always loved his work in The Faces. I remember I was actually sad that he'd left that band to join the Stones, but by then Faces singer Rod Stewart had gone off on his own and was already on the path to musical irrelevance after releasing a string of brilliant solo albums, as well as some great ones with The Faces.
"Songs are out there. They're waiting to be grabbed. I start with a phrase, musical and lyrical, words like, 'I don't think so' and a nice riff. It rolls from there." -- Ronnie Wood
"I deliberate over the lyrics; I really do. I'll come up with one line in a day, and then it might be a couple of days before I come up with the rhyming line. It's never been easy for me." -- Rod Stewart
Another several hours and another failed track. For the second day in a row, a recording simply didn't gel for me and I had to drop it. Again...maybe a candidate for inclusion on a future BIG BUSINESS MONKEY album, if there ever is another one. The good news? I discovered a very cool psychedelic nugget from 1968 to set my sights on. I ended up having a free couple hours yesterday afternoon to work on it and I was able to finish the entire instrumental part of the song. I doubt I'll have time to lay down vocals, however, before Monday. And this is one song that I can indeed handle the vocals on! (It's in the key of B.) In the meantime, I'll be looking for number six!
One of the good things, among many, that've come from this project is my exposure to dozens of garage rock bands that I never knew existed. It's extraordinary to me how much good local music was churned out in the mid to late sixties. I thought I knew a lot about that little genre since I loved it so much as a kid, but it turns out I knew very little. How awesome to be able to go back in time through YouTube and Apple Music and enjoy so much of what I'd missed!
I spent a lot of time working on a fifth song over the last two days, but unfortunately the thing just never really came together. I actually recorded it in one key and realized I couldn't sing it very well in that key, so I re-recorded the guitars in a different key and laid down several vocal tracks and realized I still couldn't get the hang of the song vocally. So I let it drop. A lot of work down the drain, I guess. Maybe one day I'll come back to it for another BIG BUSINESS MONKEY compilation. Anyway, it looks as though I'm going to have a couple hours to work on another song (which I have already picked out and laid down a drum and rhythm guitar track for!) and if I really really concentrate, I might have it done by the weekend.
On this day in 1997, David Bowie launched his BowieNet (now http://www.davidbowie.com) to great fanfare. By that time, bookofkills.com had been up and running almost a full year.
" I find only freedom in the realms of eccentricity." -- David Bowie
The fourth track in the Obscure Blah Blah series is essentially done. I'm still tweaking the mix. Regardless, it'll be available either this evening or no later than tomorrow morning! Then it's on to #5!
By the way, I'm sort of rushing these songs out purposely. The whole thing is meant to be done relatively quickly. When it comes time to compile these 12-14 tracks as an album, I'll do a more "careful" mix and probably add little bits and pieces of additional instrumentation as well. Again, keep in mind that if you download all of these tracks you'll receive a free compact disc version of the album. It won't include a unique collage, though I suppose I could make a few of those if people seem to want to have one. Those wouldn't be free.
Anyway, I hope you're enjoying listening to these songs as much as I am making them!
Got the lead vocal done this morning. It's tough to sing in the morning when your vocal cords still haven't had the chance to loosen up. But frequently, due to various responsibilities, that's the only time I have to lay down vocal tracks. So I do a little bit of singing and let off maybe a half dozen screams, and by then I've limbered up the cords enough to where I can try recording some vocals. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to finish the fourth track by next Tuesday (I usually have no time during the weekends to record) and move onto the fifth. I'm thinking 12 to 14 total cuts.
I'll be doing my semi-regular purging of old posts on this News page soon, so if you're in the habit of saving them (some people do...honest), then do so before the weekend is up.
I've already laid down the drum track and some guitar for the fourth song. It's a classic garage rock burner from 1966. I'm too old to sing it, but I'm singing it anyway, 'cause this is really fun. When I was a kid, I absolutely loved the great first-wave of garage rock of 1965-67...the Sonics, the Electric Prunes, the Seeds, the Standells, ? & the Mysterians, the 13th Floor Elevators, the Troggs, Them, the Shadows of Knight, the Remains, the Kingsman, Paul Revere and the Raiders, etc. etc. God, there were so many great bands...hundreds of them!...around back then. Every half-assed town had at least one. Most of them are long forgotten, some for better, most for worse.
"I've gone through three changes. I thought I was a Christian, then I was the devil, then the third one, where I know who I am. You know, I feel like I'm an alien." -- Roky Erickson
I've uploaded the third song in the ongoing Obscure '60s series to the music page. I've already chosen the fourth song. It's a little more involved than #3 so it'll take a little longer to complete. It's a fun one...definitely a piece of its time.
On this day in 2000 (twenty years ago???), Book of Kills (Casey Firkin - drums/vocals, Jane Firkin - guitar/vocals, Lisa Van Fossen - bass/vocals, Jim Shelley - guitar/vocals) played the Little Grill. Just for shits and giggles we included a brief acoustic warm-up set, the first and only time we ever tried that. Sadly, this was Lisa Van Fossen's final gig with the band. Gary Bugg played banjo(!) with us on "So Wicked" and Erik Kimsey played synthesizer on "Stanley the Steamer". The electric set list: Don't Stop the Scream, Why Won't You?, Inconvenient Space, Lost, Rain, I Hang Heavy-->Up In Flames-->I Can't Stand It, If I Asked You, Because Because, Cave In, Caroline, So Wicked, Fade, Stanley the Steamer, If You Want It Take It, Little Bit O' Soul, Beat On The Brat. Easily one of BOK's more memorable shows.
I have completed about 90% of the third track. This one was relatively simple. The hardest part was getting a decent vocal track. Of course, these days getting a decent vocal track for anything I record is the hardest part. I would be surprised if this one drops any later than Friday.
It should be noted: On this day in 1943, Jim Morrison was born. He died July 3, 1971, in Paris.
"The most loving parents and relatives commit murder with smiles on their faces. They force us to destroy the person we really are: a subtle kind of murder." -- Jim Morrison
The second track, "What A Girl Can't Do", in the ongoing series of "obscure" '60s garage and psychedelic covers by Jim Shelley & Book of Kills is available! If you liked the first one, you'll like this one even more! Go here to download the latest fab slab of gooey '60s goodness! All for just 99¢!
Oh...I've replaced the first song with a second, superior version. If you downloaded the first version, you should be able to download this second one as well. If you can't, just email me and I'll send you an mp3 of it.
“The people who invented the twenty-first century were pot-smoking, sandal-wearing hippies from the West Coast like Steve [Jobs], because they saw differently. The hierarchical systems of the East Coast, England, Germany, and Japan do not encourage this different thinking. The sixties produced an anarchic mind-set that is great for imagining a world not yet in existence.”
― Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs
I ended up spending a big part of yesterday hanging out with my grandsons, so I didn't really have much time to work on the second song. That said, I almost finished it anyway in the brief time I had to work on it. I need to put some lead guitar and a bit of harmonica on it and it'll be all done except for the mixing and mastering. I'm playing golf later this morning, so there'll be little to no time to work on them today.
The partial re-recording of the first song, by the way, is essentially done. I'm not quite happy with the mix. Both songs should be available before too long. Notice I'm not giving any specific dates...
I'm fairly certain I already have the third song picked out. It's a really obscure old track!
Oh, before I forget...those of you who download all of the songs (at least ten, I hope) in this series will get an exclusive compact disc compilation of all of the tracks I end up recording. My way of thanking you for your support.
If you love ALL THINGS MUST PASS as much as I do and have a half hour, go here to read a very comprehensive article on the making of the album. I do mean comprehensive!
Tomorrow, I hope I'll be able to finish the partial re-recording of the first song ("What's Been Done") in the new series I'm doing.. Then I'll move on to completing the second one. That one could be a little more complex than the first, but then again it's not like you're working on a J. S. Bach composition when you're covering obscure '60s pop songs.
This morning I was alerted by Beatles.com that a new remix of George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass", from the brilliant album of the same name, had been released. I listened to it and was astounded at how clear and powerful it sounded. The new mix affords an opportunity to hear things that original producer Phil Spector buried in his very reverb-y "Wall of Sound" mixes. Especially startling was how much better George's vocals sounded. I have to be honest and profess that I much prefer this new drier version. Evidently the Harrison estate is planning to release the entire album, in a newly remixed form, something I really look forward to.
After The Beatles broke up, I believe they released only a few truly iconic solo albums. In ascending order: 8. RINGO (Ringo Starr); 7. MCCARTNEY (Paul McCartney); 6. LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD (George Harrison); 5. RAM (Paul McCartney); 4. IMAGINE (John Lennon); 3. BAND ON THE RUN (Paul McCartney); 2. PLASTIC ONO BAND (John Lennon); and (the greatest solo Beatles record) 1. ALL THINGS MUST PASS. I never tire of listening to any of these eight records, but only ALL THINGS MUST PASS seems to offer me new little surprised every time I hear it. Now I'll find even more reasons to pull joy out of George's masterpiece.
“It was a really nice experience making that album because I was really a bit paranoid, musically. I remember having those people in the studio and thinking, ‘God, these songs are so fruity!’ I’d play it to them and they’d say, ‘Wow, yeah! Great song!’ And I’d say, ‘Really? Do you really like it?’ I realized that it was OK.” -- George Harrison
“Making this album sound clearer was always one of my dad’s greatest wishes and it was something we were working on together right up until he passed. But with the help of new technology and the work of Paul Hicks on this project, we are now able to make that happen. We can’t wait for you all to hear everything we’ve been working on.” -- Dhani Harrison
I hope you have a fulfilling and safe Thanksgiving. We won't be going to the big family event we normally attend every year out of town, which makes me sad, but we'll have a small (local) family meal.
I have begun recording a new song in the obscure '60s series thing, but I doubt I'll have it done before late next week. Speaking of recording, the first song's multitrack file suffered a near fatal crash and I lost most of the individual tracks forever. I'm going to re-record the parts that I lost. I'll find a way to get the re-recording to those of you who've already downloaded the "first' version. And to those of you who did indeed purchase the first song, thank you very very much. Thank you for supporting homemade music.
I savor every moment of the recording of a new song. I even cherish having to do a guitar take over and over to get it just right, though that was something I had to do more when I first started out than now. Testing out various effects on a guitar part or vocal, fiddling with equalization, trying to balance and position all the instruments and voices within a sound stage, suddenly coming up with a new and better arrangement in the middle of recording and having to start all over, etc. I love it all.
Thanks to those of you who've downloaded the new song! I hope it doesn't take too long to come up with the second one.
“I enjoy taking my time with each dish, being fully aware of the dish, the water, and each movement of my hands. I know that if I hurry in order to eat dessert sooner, the time of washing dishes will be unpleasant and not worth living. That would be a pity, for each minute, each second of life is a miracle. The dishes themselves and that fact that I am here washing them are miracles!” -- Thich Nhat Hanh (The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation)
The first brand new track in what I hope will be an ongoing series of covers of "obscure" '60s psychedelic songs is now available for download on the Music Page! This is the first time I've tried to set up a download for sale in several years. I think I've got all my ducks in line. If you encounter any problems, please let me know! This project has actually got me pretty excited. It's fun recording other people's music and especially fun trying to put your own little quirky spin on what's already a quirky piece of great, if little-known, music.
By the way, if I do indeed end up recording a number of tracks for this project, they'll eventually be available for purchase as a compact disc and, of course, on music streaming sites world-wide, but that will be several months in the future.
Now I'll turn my attention to uncovering another gem, its musical charms to unlock!
“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Do it now.” -- Paulo Coelho
Well, from now on when I give you a deadline, add at least a week. I had every intention of finishing up the first in what's going to be a series of remakes of various obscure '60s tunes and then once again reality (and a sofa) interfered with my best-laid plans. I ended up having to waste almost four hours doing nothing but waiting for a sofa to arrive without the chance to put the finishing touches on the first track in fear that I'd miss the delivery if I were upstairs recording. Yep. That's the truth. Anyway, the song is 95% done. In fact, all I have to do is lay down some sort of guitar solo and mix and master it and it's in the can. I won't, however, make any promises when it's going to be done.
“Are you aware that rushing toward a goal is a sublimated death wish? It's no coincidence we call them 'deadlines'" -- Tom Robbins
I began recording the first cover song today. I won't have any long stretches of time to work on it, but I think I'll have it finished Thursday.
On this day in 2006, The Karl Rove played their final show at the Satellite Ballroom in Charlottesville, VA. The set list: Caspian Sea, Little Metal Toys, Empire In Decline, Different, God Bless, River Of Blood, So Tired, Windowless Facade, Funtown, Righteous American, JROTC, Scrapezoid. The gig was marred by tension in the band which led us to play a mediocre show. I remember my older son Daniel and his wife Amy came down to Charlottesville to see us, along with my wife. I think they were baffled by the whole strange affair. We had such potential and yet never came remotely close to achieving what we could have accomplished musically.