Thoughts & Updates
May 23, 2020
Spent the day visiting with my wife's mother and father and later in the day took a grandson fishing in a "new" place we'd never tried before. Then we came home and ate dinner and went for a walk. Then we watched an episode of DEAD TO ME and then we watched an episode of SCHITT'S CREEK. Then we got ready for bed and I wrote this update.
I really sort of botched the release of EVERY DREAM HAS ITS GHOSTS, though technically I guess I haven't actually released it?
"Distinctive voices in rock are trained through years of many things: frustration, fear, loneliness, anger, insecurity, arrogance, narcissism, or just sheer perseverance – anything but a teacher." -- Chrissie Hynde
May 22, 2020
I've fulfilled the orders I got for the special collage edition of EVERY DREAM HAS ITS GHOSTS. I simply put in some late hours last night and some early hours this morning and came up with some good collages! (I wish I had a photograph of every collage cover I've made over the years, but sadly I have photos of maybe 20% of them.)
I have also deleted the BandCamp version of the album since it featured early, inferior mixes of all sixteen tracks. When I make the switch of bookofkills.com to Bandzoogle, I'll once again make a "regular" version of the compact disc available, as well as a few more special editions. I've uploaded the music to CDBaby and now I have to wait on them to get their stuff in order.
May 21, 2020 Addendum
I'll probably close down the BandCamp version of EVERY DREAM HAS ITS GHOSTS soon. I've made a completely new mix/master of the album and the BandCamp songs just aren't quite up to snuff. I hope, however, that they'll serve as an introduction to this new work. As I worked on this sixth mix, I discovered a couple of glitches in the vocals of two songs, so I actually had to re-record a couple of lines of vocals! I also worked a bit more on the drums, primarily to fix volume problems on several tracks. Right now I have a gigantic single .wav file of all sixteen songs that I have to split up, of course, to make the final compact disc-worthy album. As soon as I complete that task, I'll upload everything to CDBaby and they'll begin the process of okaying the album for distribution. This usually takes a few days. In the meantime, don't forget that bookofkills.com might well be down for a while.
May 21, 2020
I will begin the transfer process today (of moving bookofkills.com to a new server) and there's a good chance that this web site will go dark for a day or two.
Although you can stream EVERY DREAM HAS ITS GHOSTS on BandCamp right now, I am working on yet another mix of every song. When I am done, I'll be uploading the album to CDBaby and EDHIG will gradually become available on all streaming apps and sites. I'm already half way through the mixing process this morning (it's currently 8:20), so I hope to do the upload no later than this evening.
I inadvertently included the ability to buy the regular compact disc along with the limited special edition on the BandCamp site and a few people ordered the limited edition. I've since taken that offer down, since I wasn't quite ready to start work on new collage inserts. Please be advised that, although I am deeply appreciative of your support for the album and BOK in general, I won't be mailing any special edition compact discs out till no earlier than next Monday! But thank you, thank you, thank you!
May 20, 2020 Addendum
The new album is available to stream FREE on BandCamp. However, one cannot download songs free since BandCamp forces artists to charge at least 50 cents per track if they host any album of yours
EVERY DREAM HAS ITS GHOSTS was conceived almost immediately after the release of the last BOK album, I KNOW WE CAN SAVE OUR WORLD, in late January. I knew from the start that it would be very different from that record. I KNOW WE CAN SAVE OUR WORLD was easily the most popular thing I'd done in a decade, but I simply didn't want to create a IKWCSOW Part Two, nor did I want to sweat over the conception and production of each track as I had with that album, so I drove the BOK truck off the road and into the ditch.
The songs on DREAM were all written very quickly. The arrangements were kept purposely simple, abrasive, and unabashedly lo-fi. I recorded the instrumental parts with a first-take mentality. If I didn't completely screw up, say, a guitar solo, the first time through, then I kept it. I'm not a keyboard player, but probably the first thing I knew about the new record was that every track would feature a cheesy '60s garage rock style organ provided courtesy of my '90s era Casio.
This might be a tough one for those who came to Book of Kills through the relatively straight-forward rock and roll of I KNOW WE CAN SAVE OUR WORLD. But buried under the sludge and crud you'll still find the beating heart of Book of Kills. You'll just have to work a little harder to get to it. But it's there. Honest.
(By the way, this is, in all likelihood, not the final version of the album. Before committing it to compact disc, I'll give each song another listen and make any small adjustments in the mix that I might think would improve it. I might even end up adding an instrumental or vocal part here and there.)
May 20, 2020
I am largely done with readying EVERY DREAM HAS ITS GHOSTS for BandCamp. Believe it or not, I actually re-mixed seven tracks again today and even added a guitar part to one track. There is a good chance that this BandCamp version will not be the final version. I might well do some further mixing (and perhaps even some additional recording) before I make the record available on the streaming services.
The album should be available for listening by 9:00 tonight.
This will be a limited-time only stay on BandCamp. I'm simply not a big fan of the company for various reasons. When you visit the album page, you'll see that the album is listed as being $7.00 with individual track downloads costing $1.00. However, you can listen to the complete record FREE. BandCamp prefers that its artists list albums at $7.00 and individual tracks at $1.00. After all, they make their money by taking a percentage of the musician's profits. Before long, of course, you will be able to listen to the entire album on all streaming sites. I'm making a few unique compact disc copies available which will feature the usual specially created collage covers. More on that later.
Now I'll turn my attention to moving bookofkills.com to Bandzoogle/CDBaby.
May 19, 2020
I've cancelled my account with Wix.com and begun the process of moving to CDBaby (actually now Bandzoogle for web hosting). I have a couple weeks before I have to complete the move.
It looks like (surprise) Wednesday will be the day for the BandCamp "pre-release". And even that is not a firm promise. Guys, it's hard making an album and mixing and mastering it. Today I finished my fifth mix of all sixteen songs! But I do think that's the mix that will prove the one. I'll listen to the whole thing late this evening and see how it sounds on a compact disc. I've finished a cover for the album and I'm in the process of completing an insert. I'll wrap that up this evening. I don't know when Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal and the other music services will have the album. Probably next week.
The question now is...will there be a third BOK album in 2020?
May 16, 2020
As I've begun the process of mixing the new album, I have, of course, spent quite a bit more time listening to each track. I think this period of time in the recording life of Book of Kills compares favorably to the spring, summer and fall of 1992 which saw the release of DON'T STOP THE SCREAM, 8 FROM THE ATTIC and THE HAUNTED LIFE when 24 new songs dropped that year. Though 2020 has "only" seen two new albums (but, hey, there's still lots of time left in the year) I've bested 1992 by 1/3 by writing and recording 36 new tracks. You can argue amongst yourselves as to which year yielded the higher percentage of quality compositions. I love all my babies, not just the ones someone else might tell me I should love best! I do believe, however, that some old-school BOK-heads (if there indeed is such a thing in 2020) will like the new record a lot more than I KNOW WE CAN SAVE OUR WORLD. Oh, by the way...the new one is gonna be called EVERY DREAM HAS ITS GHOSTS.
Next week, after the release of the new record, it's likely that bookofkills.com will go dark for a few days as I switch servers back to CDBaby. Please be patient.
“I’m still trying to find myself. I study a lot to become better. All the time, I look ahead.” -- Tony Bennett (quoted in 2015 at the age of 89)
May 15, 2020
I'm halfway through a second mix. I'll finish it up tomorrow then take a listen to everything in my car Monday morning. Then I'll do one final tweak. Tuesday afternoon I'll probably master everything (which in this case means, I'll trim each track, do some minor equalization, maybe compress each track just a bit to make them a little louder, make sure each track is compatible as far as volume goes, and then mix all sixteen songs together. ("Mixing them all together" means I'm going to have songs blend into one another this time. In other words, there won't be any silent pauses between tracks this time.) After I do that, I will cut the mix up into sixteen separate tracks. I hope I'll have the art work for the BandCamp listing done by then, so that I can upload the album Tuesday evening. If not then, surely I'll have it available by Wednesday evening.
May 11, 2020
I finished the 16th and final song for the new album. I even went back through the other fifteen songs, added a few guitar parts here and there and did a preliminary mix of every track. I'd forgotten what most of the songs even sounded like. Again...this is a very different record from I KNOW WE CAN SAVE OUR WORLD. Noisy. Very. Very. Noisy. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have its melodies and hooks and even the occasional singalong choruses. It is Book of Kills, after all. But, as I've said before, this one will take some repeated listens to figure out exactly what's going on. I'm continually amazed that as soon as I finished IKWCSOW I somehow was able to churn out another 16 song album. I honestly don't know where this one came from.
I'll work on mixing over the next few days. I would be very surprised if I wasn't able to upload the complete album by next Tuesday, which right now I'll set as the target date.
“The only truth is music.” ― Jack Kerouac
“If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or music, then in that respect you can call me that… I believe in what I do, and I’ll say it.” ― John Lennon
“Music sounds different to the one who plays it. It is the musician’s curse.”
― Patrick Rothfuss
May 9, 2020
The great genius that was Little Richard has passed away. He was 87. Rock and Roll would have been very different, and much less interesting and vibrant, without him. He was one of the towering giants of popular music in the '50s. I loved his 1977 compilation 22 ORIGINAL HITS.
I finished the lyrics for the final song. I expect to lay down the vocal tracks by the end of the weekend unless some unforeseen circumstance arises.
"God gives us the ability, but rock 'n' roll was created by men."
"I did what I felt, and I felt what I did, at all costs."
I never accepted the idea that I had to be guided by some pattern or blueprint.
-- Little Richard
May 8, 2020
The instrumental part of track 16 is 95% done...maybe I'll add a little percussion or whatever down the road. I still don't have anything other than a couple lines in the way of lyrics though. The weekend isn't looking the best for recording, but Monday morning appears to be wide open. I'm hoping that'll provide me the last bit of free time to get the initial recording completed. Then, as I wrote in the previous entry, I'll start in earnest on mixing.
In the future, after I make the switch from Wix to Bandzoogle (CDBaby), I think you'll begin to see some fairly regular audio and video posts on bookofkills.com in lieu of written blog entries. Perhaps that's wishful thinking, but I think people these days are more inclined to watch and listen than read. Ultimately it'll depend upon what options Bandzoogle have available to me.
By the way, I will not be uploading the new album to this site. It will be available, of course, on streaming services and as a (temporary) download on Bandcamp.
May 6, 2020
Downstairs in the basement last night at 10 singing my old heart out! And #15 is done.
On to #16...the final song on the album. I've already recorded the drums and a rhythm guitar part and started writing the lyrics.
The track listing will run from the first song I recorded during these sessions in order through to this last one.
I'll finish this one up first, of course, then go back and listen to each song and determine if I need to add any vocal or instrumental parts to any of them. Then I'll make a first mix, burn the songs to compact disc and listen to the whole thing in my car. That's the best place of all, as I've said before, to come up with a definitive mix. I'll take notes, make adjustments, do mixes, and then listen in the car again and either go through the process yet again or mix everything down, port them to .wav files and upload them to Bandcamp. I'll probably make maybe half a dozen special edition CD's of some sort, but there won't be any big run of those.
May 5, 2020
If you've wondered recently why I don't update the site much beyond these semi-regular "Thoughts & Updates" entries, it's solely because, as many of you know, in the not too-distant future I'll be switching servers back to CDBaby/Bandzoogle. So there's really not much of a reason to add more content if I'm just going to be taking it all down. You're probably aware that I've never been happy with my switch to Wix. My subscription for the year is up soon. I'll be making the move before the end of the month.
I'm about 2/3's done with the next to last track. I still have to write the lyrics and do the vocals. Since this one's largely instrumental, that won't be such a chore.
May 3, 2020
I've laid down the drums and a rhythm guitar part for the penultimate song on this new album. No lyrics yet. There'll be lots of lead guitar on this one; it's largely an instrumental number, though I do intend to have a verse and chorus at the end of the song.
I've found that as the album has progressed, the songs have become a little more "produced". That is, I've fattened up the arrangements a bit for the last three or four songs. It lends kind of a sense of progression, I think, to the whole thing. This will certainly be the most cohesive album sound-wise that I've put together since maybe all the way back to 1992, when DON'T STOP THE SCREAM and THE HAUNTED LIFE came out.
I find myself lately, particularly in the last couple weeks, yearning more and more to play in a band. I don't know if there'd even be anyone left who'd want to join me, but I do miss the camaraderie and creativity that can only come when three or four people are working together to put together a set list. Then again, if there's no vaccine, if there's no way to even play in front of folks, what's the point? We can only hope for a miracle.
May 1, 2020
More or less done with track #14. I have to add a little bit of lead guitar but that won't take long since I'll just wing it anyway. That means two more and another Book of Kills album is ready to step into this mean old world and find its way alone.
Some of you have found it already (it's not on this site) but if you haven't, there's a new BOK video floating somewhere in the internet ether.
April 28, 2020
No progress on the latest song other than I think early this morning I wrote one line. That said, I did play golf today. Golf is allowed in Virginia. It's considered, of course, a valid exercise activity.
19 years ago, Jim Shelley, Casey and Jane Firkin, and Bill Bird played a long, fun show at Harrisonburg, Virginia's famous Little Grill. BOK shared the bill that evening with Ike Sours' excellent punk band Disenfranchised Youth. The set list: If You Want It, Take It!, Cave In, Why Won't You?, Money, Gemini, Rain, Killing Time Again, Because Because, If I Asked You, Caroline, Inconvenient Space, Fade, I Was Wrong, To Dream A New Dream, Running, Just An Average Day, Fat Woman Lying In The Street, I Hang Heavy-->Up In Flames-->I Can't Stand It Anymore, Don't Stop The Scream, Beat On The Brat
April 27, 2020
I laid down a couple of rhythm guitar tracks, drums and bass on the fourteenth track today. And I've started working on the lyrics as well.
The gifted Pete Ham was born on this day in 1947. Pete was a founding member of Badfinger, a great rock band that has never received its proper due. I loved them from the start, I guess in part because they filled in some of the empty spaces in my heart that the Beatles left behind when they broke up in 1970. Badfinger was shamelessly ripped off by their so-called manager, Stan Polley. Pete stupidly committed suicide in 1975, thinking that he'd been rendered penniless by Polley's immoral business practices.
April 25, 2020
Finished #13 today. Three to go.
I was talking with my wife yesterday about how the damned virus has changed everything about making music. Will I ever be part of another band? Is there going to ever be a time again where people gather together to watch a band perform live? I always thought there'd be one more band in my future. Now I wonder.
Just days after wrapping up the sessions for SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND, The Beatles began work on this day in 1967 on a new song..."Magical Mystery Tour". I know it's not a "real" album, but MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR has always been by far one of my favorite Beatles records.
April 21, 2020
Finished another song (#12) this morning. I have four more to go. I think I can have the thing finished, written, recorded, mixed and uploaded by no later than the first week of May. I have a good idea of where I'm going with #13. As always, the hardest thing will be coming up with lyrics.
"There's a thin line between songwriting and arranging." -- Warren Zevon
"Songwriting is a very mysterious process. It feels like creating something from nothing. It's something I don't feel like I really control." -- Tracy Chapman
"For me, songwriting is really where it's at. I turn to use the guitar just to help me write the songs. That's it. As a result, my guitar playing suffers pretty horribly." -- Mark Knopfler
"The big problem with songwriting for me is starting a new song. It's the thing where all the anguish exists, not in the writing of the song, but the starting of the new song. What do I write about? I never know." -- Nick Cave
"Songwriting is a burst of inspiration and then a long bit of work and a tremendous bit of desperation." -- Donovan
April 19, 2020
Started work on song #12. Might be able to write the lyrics and add the vocals tomorrow morning!
Can you believe Fugazi's REPEATER is 30 years old? And Ian MacKaye is freaking 58???
On this day in 2001, Book of Kills played a show with the Plague Dogs at Bridgewater College. We just didn't have it. It ended up being one of the worst BOK shows ever. The set list: If You Want It, Cave In, Why Won't You?, Rain, Gemini, Fat Woman, New Dream, Money, I Was Wrong, Caroline, Running, I Hang Heavy-->Up In Flames-->Can't Stand It, Don't Stop the Scream, Beat On The Brat.
Two years later, BOK played the last of its three shows at Alston's in Harrisonburg, Virginia. It was a decidedly better performance than the one two years earlier. The rather unusual set list: Cave In, Style-->Bad Person, Sweet William, Caroline, Jesco White, Clever, Why Won't You?, Face, To Dream A New Dream, Nelson-->Then I Kissed Her, Gemini, AntiMan, Who Dares Defy The Hand Of God, Money, Sweet, Abandoned.
April 15, 2020
On to number 12! Five more to go and I'll have my second 16 song album in the can in four months. I've got a pretty good idea what this one'll be like.
The little collection of Book of Kills videos grows ever so slightly as the years slide by.
On this day in 2001, the great Joey Ramone passed away after a long battle with leukemia.
April 13, 2020
Close to done with song #11. Have to do a little lyric work and add vocals.
You probably know how much I love John Lennon's 1970 radical masterpiece PLASTIC ONO BAND. Looks as though there's gonna be a substantial 50th Anniversary re-release of the record late this year.
April 9, 2020
About 90% done with song #10. Mainly have to finish up the lyrics and add the organ.
Yes...this album will be free. A couple of folks thought this meant I'd be sending free compact disc versions of the album to whoever wanted one, but "free" means I'll set up a BandCamp site for the album where you'll be able to download the whole thing if you want it. I suppose I could also create some sort of special compact disc thing if there were people who wanted to purchase a copy, but I don't know if I want to go to that trouble!
On this day in 1969, Paul McCartney announced a so-called temporary break with The Beatles, citing "personal differences." When a reporter subsequently called Lennon to comment upon McCartney's resignation, John said, "Paul hasn't left. I sacked him." A week after his announcement, Paul released his first solo album, supposedly spelling the end of The Beatles. (It should be noted, however, that new audio evidence proves the band never intended to permanently disband.)
April 7, 2020
Imagine...I didn't get around to recording anything. I do have the song's structure in mind and one verse written. I ended up fishing and then later doing some work on the house and the yard and then I went for a walk and then I was too tired to work on music.
Go here to see the original set list from the March 13, 2010 "Final" Book of Kill show. I guess though a couple different BOK line-ups have played shows since then, that March 13 gig will always somehow be the last show.
April 6, 2020
I enjoyed a special treat today. I messaged back and forth on WhatsApp for a good long while with Mike Hicks. Mike, of course, was BOK's drummer during the rather short-lived run of the George Nipe III, Mike Hick, Jim Shelley (and, on and off, David Tekippe) line-up. Mike's living in Spain and has been for quite a while now. He's doing well and staying healthy and making music.
I am beginning work on song #10. I wouldn't doubt if I had it largely done by tomorrow evening, but one never knows, does one?
This is kind of a big day in rock and roll/country music history. On this day back in 1965, The Beach Boys recorded "California Girls", though they would add some vocals and instrumental touches to the song later. On this day in 1966, The Beatles started work at Abbey Road Studios on what would become what many people believe is the greatest rock album of all time, REVOLVER. The first song they tackled? Believe it or not, "Tomorrow Never Knows". On this day in 1968, Pink Floyd announced that Syd Barrett had "left" the band. On this day in 1998, sadly, the great Wendy O. Williams died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Also on the same day, the sublime Tammy Wynette died at the much too young age of 55. And on this day in 2016, the brilliant Merle Haggard passed away. I had the chance to see Merle on a couple of occasions and failed to do so. Silly silly me.
April 3, 2020
I have written and partially recorded song #9. I still have to do the vocals. I'll probably do them late tonight after Mary Lou has gone to bed!
March 31, 2020
I didn't like the way the eighth song had turned out, so I wrote a different eighth song today and recorded it today and now I like the eighth song better.
This is a strange album. Discomfiting. Rough. Stark. Blunt. At times belligerent. At times unpleasant. At other times sad. At still other times, oddly hopeful. It's a reflection of where I feel like I am with my family and this rather screwed up world.
Now it's on to number nine. As I said, I'm shooting for sixteen. Then it'll be free for all to listen to.
Tomorrow's April Fool's Day. No joke.
March 27, 2020
On this day TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, Brian Temples, Dustin Bugg, George Finch and I played The Little Grill in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I recall almost nothing about this show, though I vaguely recall hanging out a bit with the band who opened for us, The Necromantics. That group consisted of Travis Hunter, Critter Fuqua (their drummer and a founding member of Old Crow Medicine Show) and Melissa Livaudais (their bassist/vocalist and co-founder of Telepathe). BOK's setlist that evening: 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.
March 26, 2020
I finished most of song #8 yesterday. This is turning into a weird little album.
On this day in 2005, Casey Firkin, Aaron Farrington, Johnny St. Ours and I played our second and final show as Book of Proles (as we moved forward, we changed our name to The Karl Rove) at a strange venue called Captain Tee's, in Harrisonburg, Virginia. This would also be the last show Casey played with us. Billy Hunt would thereafter take over the drumming duties.
The set list: L.A. Song, Bucketful of Sickness, Righteous USA, I Wish I Was You, Long Arm of the Law, Who Dares Defy the Hand of God to War, Windowless Facade, Winds of Dying, God Bless, My World Turned to Black, Don't Stop the Scream.
March 23, 2020
Another song (number seven) in the bag! I'm projecting a 16 track album. When it's done (if I don't get the virus and...let's just say respond to it poorly) I'll probably just post it on Bandcamp so anyone can download it free if they want to hear it.
March 20, 2020
The positive response to I KNOW WE CAN SAVE OUR WORLD has been more gratifying than you guys can imagine. I can only compare it to perhaps the reaction WASP 51! received.
“Been loving the record! So many awesome songs. The guitars are fabulous on there. It's obvious you were feeling them. Stunned by the tribute song ['You Couldn't Give Any More (Turtle's Song)'] and you know tt would be, too. Incredible piece; thank you so much. Thanks for making this record, I needed it right now.”
“All the songs are good. I have enjoyed [the album] over and over.”
“Excellent! Great job, Jim Shelley & Book of Kills!”
“I just realized that most of the BoK catalog can be found on Spotify. I know what I’ll be listening to for the foreseeable future.”
“Just listened to the new album for the fourth time and I have to say this is a damn good one. I'm not a guitar player but I know what I like and the guitar sound on this album is really to my taste. On the way home in the truck just now I listened to 'Heart's Wisdom Has The Power' 4 times in a row. I love it - my favorite track at this moment. In my humble opinion this is the best album since TIYBOK. Please keep them coming.”
"This is my first Book Of Kills album. Love it. I can't wait to experience them all."
"Not the bestest Book Of Kills record of all time but really really close. The wait was worth it, Mr. Shelley."
"This is everything great rock should be. Congratulations!"
“Have listened to 'IKWCSOW' at least a dozen times since you sent it to me. All I can say is WOW!”
“The songs on this album are made to order classics. You could list it as any year from 1978 and on and no one would argue. At the risk of an unintended insult, should it be one, I'll say this is the best David Bowie record since David Bowie died.”
“You are definitely the one artist I have collected the most. Love your music! Let me know if you will be performing live locally. Oh, and this most recent CD is permanently in my van’s CD player.”
March 19, 2020
I wrote and recorded song #6 yesterday and got started on #7 today. Seems a little weird blogging about writing and recording songs when things are so crazy all over the world, but I can't simply give in and give up to this virus. I know you won't either. I'll keep writing and recording and I want you to make sure you take care of yourself and your loved ones.
Would you love to have had the chance to see The Beatles play THE WHITE ALBUM live? Of course, you would have. And of course neither you nor I ever will have that chance. But you can watch an exceptionally good rock band from the Netherlands play THE WHITE ALBUM (and numerous other latter day Beatles albums) live on YouTube! I only discovered The Analogues last week, but I've already watched them perform a couple albums in full as well as some stray classic tracks such as "The Ballad of John and Yoko" and "I Am The Walrus".
They're not one of those cheesy tribute bands who try to look and sound exactly like the The Beatles. According to Wikipedia "...the Analogues' ambition has been to perform The Beatles' music from their later studio years live, using analogue and period-correct instrumentation. From the start the Analogues have distinguished themselves by performing songs and whole albums live, which The Beatles themselves never played live; supported by brass and strings. Appearance-wise the band makes no effort to look like The Beatles, but they are called masters at recreating and reproducing the original sound." Worth checking out.
March 17, 2020
Genesis P Orridge, as you might know, died this past Saturday at the age of 70. He was one of the founding parents of industrial music particularly through the work he did as part of Throbbing Gristle. TG and P Orridge's later band, Psychic TV, were integral in my development as a musician back in the late '70s through the late '80s. Without them, so much of modern music from industrial to acid house would be very different or not even exist in the first place. If there were no Genesis P Orridge, certainly there'd be no SONGS FOR A GONE WORLD or NOIZ.
"When in doubt, be extreme." -- Genesis P Orridge
Oh...I forgot to mention that last Friday the 13th was the ten year anniversary of the final show of the George Nipe III, Mike Hicks and Jim Shelley version of BOK! Here's an account of the show from THE BALLAD OF JIM SHELLEY:
"March 13 was a pretty typical concert day for me. As always, I could focus on little else besides thinking about the songs I would play that night and fretting over whether or not anyone would even care enough to show up. (If no one did, I had only myself to blame. I hadn't even posted any fliers around the city advertising the event. The only promotion I had done was to mention the event a couple times on my Facebook page and bookofkills.com.) I spent most of the afternoon sequestered in my bedroom, running over riffs on my acoustic guitar and repeating lyrics in my head over and over again, all the while deluding myself (as always) into thinking that four or five hours of hard work can substitute for months of studious practice.
"A little before 7 P.M., I loaded my amp and guitar into the back of my old RAV4, and my wife and I drove to the Grill. I was probably more nervous than I had ever been before in my life, save perhaps the morning I gave the HHS commencement address. But I needn't have fretted. Saturday night was, simply put, magical. My entire family was there, including my older son, Daniel and his wife Amy who took some excellent photos, and my younger son Christian who had never seen a BOK show. Many of the folks I had played with over the years, including Garfield Banks, Gary Bugg, Randy Simpson, Jane Firkin, Mike Chiarello, Jeff Lown, and, of course, Casey, were also in attendance. Two of the best BOK photographers ever, Deanne Good and Jana Burtner, were both there, as were my brother and his lovely wife, Linda. Somehow I even felt as though the spirits of my mom and dad had graciously decided to make a one-time special appearance, too. All told, over seventy-five folks had wedged themselves into the Grill. Buck Gooter and Sleepfeeder both played short, high-energy sets and then the moment arrived.
"We set up our equipment quickly. I didn't speak more than a sentence or two to George or Mike. I was consumed by my thoughts and emotions as I started to introduce the band, when suddenly Casey Firkin emerged from the crowd and presented me with a plaque. 'The Shenandoah Valley Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame would like to present Jim with its first-ever lifetime achievement award,' he said into the microphone. 'To a true rock 'n' roll pioneer who has influenced and touched more lives with his creative musical contributions than he will ever know. Thanks for the music and for never giving up or giving in. Your fans, friends and family.'
I was close to tears.
"What could I say in reply? Over the years since I'd released Bloom Or Die? I had met so many wonderful friends and acquaintances through music. I could never even begin to thank them all for giving me far more than I ever gave back. I hugged Casey tightly and then hammered out the opening riff of River Of Blood and proceeded to butcher the song beyond recognition, even though Mike and George tried to hold it together in spite of my fumbling. My fingers were like clumsy dancers stumbling across the fretboard of my guitar. It didn't really seem to matter, though. From the start, folks were dancing and moshing and singing along in George's or my microphone. Bodies constantly pounded against me and I found it difficult to even keep my hands on my guitar. A couple of times the microphone slammed so hard into my mouth I thought I'd broken some teeth. I ended up with a fat lip when someone's elbow smashed into my face.
"It was great.
"We careened our way through Killing Time Again, Marzipan Day, Fat Woman Lying In The Street, Blue Man, Never Be Like You, Placebo, Fade, To Dream A New Dream, Stanley The Steamer, Little Metal Toys, Lost, Nirvana's School, and finally Don't Stop The Scream, with Mike Chiarello, Billy Brett, and Casey Firkin often joining me or George on the choruses. But the crowd wasn't about to let us go yet, even though crazily we hadn't considered working out a couple of encore songs. 'How about So Tired?' I suggested to George and Mike. I couldn't remember the last time we'd played it, but what the hell. When that one slammed to its conclusion, the crowd continued to chant for more, 'Book Of Kills! Book Of Kills!'
"Someone yelled out, 'I Hang Heavy!' and the crowd roared its approval. It had been months since we'd jammed that song. But why not? And that's how it all ended...
“'I hang heavy in this universe! The coming is bad, but the going is worse!'
"Was it the greatest BOK show ever? Who knows? It's definitely up there in my pantheon of legendary gigs. I will say it was some of the best fun I've ever had playing live music. And to be able to share the evening with Casey, Ike and Greg of Sleepfeeder and Billy and Terry of Buck Gooter, as well as many other close friends and family members, made it an even bigger honor and pleasure for me. To say you had to be there is no doubt one of the hoariest of all clichés, but in this case it is certainly true. The next day Mike Hicks told me that it was the first time in his life he'd felt like a real rock star."
March 16, 2020
We'll get through this, guys. I hope one day not too long from now we can all look back at this experience and know it has made us stronger and more thankful for our precious lives. I hope you are staying safe and practicing sensible habits.
I'll be writing and recording Wednesday and Thursday. Of course, I have a long way to go to finish up the new album. This makes me think back to 1992 when I wrote and recorded DON'T STOP THE SCREAM in late winter and early spring, released it in April, did some remixing and recording soon after and released 8 FROM THE ATTIC in May, and began sessions for another, completely different, collection, THE HAUNTED LIFE, that summer, releasing it on Halloween.
On this day in 2002, Book of Kills (featuring Randy SImpson, Jane Firkin, Casey Firkin, Bill Bird, and Jim) played a rather strange gig at a venue called T & C's in Waynesboro, Virginia. Here's an account of the gig from THE BALLAD OF JIM SHELLEY:
"In the meantime, I somehow managed to get us a show in Waynesboro, Virginia, in March at what was sort of pseudo biker's bar called T & C's. I'd heard that the sound there was great, they had a good stage, and it was a fun place to play. However, someone told me that T & C's owner would stand behind every new band as it launched into its set and if he didn't like you after the first song, he'd literally pull the plug on you and tell you to scram, so we were all a little apprehensive to say the least.
"We began the show with a slamming version of 'Accidentally Naked' (a great way to start our set since it consisted of one chord!). I remember looking behind me about halfway through the song to see if the owner was really scrutinizing us and there he was, just off stage along with a middle-aged woman who I assumed was a waitress or bartender. He was smiling and she was dancing!
"By the end of the evening, I knew we'd passed the test with flying colors, no small accomplishment for an arty little rock and roll band that insisted on performing almost all original material. We played one of our best shows that evening and the owner even asked us to come back in the summer, but I ended up never calling him back."
March 12, 2020
The Beatles and Walt Disney Studios have announced the pending release of Peter Jackson's "The Beatles: Get Back" on September 4, 2020.
"I’m really looking forward to this film. Peter is great and it was so cool looking at all this footage. There was hours and hours of us just laughing and playing music, not at all like the version that came out. There was a lot of joy and I think Peter will show that. I think this version will be a lot more peace and loving, like we really were." -- Ringo Starr
March 11, 2020
Hope you're okay in these strange times.
I wrote and recorded another song today. Still have to put the organ on it, though. Yeah, every song so far has organ on it. Probably every song on this album will. That's quite unusual considering I have no idea how to play the organ.
I doubt you care too much right now about how the latest BOK album is progressing. Stay well.
March 7, 2020
For those of you (like me) waiting on a Beatles LET IT BE box set, here's some news. Let's just hope we all live to November! Speaking of living until something Beatles is released, I'm hoping I live to see (and read) the final two installments of Mark Lewisohn's TUNE IN trilogy. Apparently it's taking him a decade to research and write the second volume.
March 5, 2020
I wrote and recorded another song yesterday. I might try to do the same today though I'll be pretty busy.
The entire matrix remixed/remastered Alston's 2/1/2003, concert has been posted to the music page. You can stream or download the entire show free!
March 3, 2020
A curious thing happened to me while I was in the middle of the I KNOW WE CAN SAVE OUR WORLD recording sessions. I began to listen to CDs again. Some time, I think, in December, my wife and I were looking around at the world's greatest thrift store, Harrisonburg, Virginia's own Gift and Thrift, when I came across a 17 year old Sony portable disc player (From the last year the Casey, Jane, Bill, Randy and Jim version of BOK existed!)
I'd bought old portable disc players in the recent past a couple of times and been assured that they were in working condition only to discover they were anything but, so I was a little reluctant to plunk down $3 for what I was fairly sure would be yet another dud device, but one of the volunteer workers told me the Sony had been tested and did work. Lo and behold, when I got home and put a disc from the Beatles's super deluxe White Album box set in it and pushed the little play button...it played!
Now I find myself playing compact discs regularly. Streaming is cool and opens up your listening world to any number of albums you might not ever otherwise hear, but CDs sound so much better, so much clearer and more dynamic, and somehow, it's oddly assuring and just more fun to put that little plastic disc into your little plastic player and peruse that little insert booklet...to listen to something REAL and to hold something REAL in your hands.
March 2, 2020
I'm always intrigued by how the most played JS/BOK songs on Apple Music differs so much from JS/BOK songs on Spotify. For instance, compare the top ten most played songs on Spotify for this past February with the top ten on Apple Music (listed just below):
1. Dink's Song (BIG BUSINESS MONKEY, VOLUME 6)
2. Killing Time Again (JIM SHELLEY & BOOK OF KILLS LIVE)
3. We Are Here Because We're Here (I CAN'T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE)
4. We Left Our God Deaf & Blind (I KNOW WE CAN SAVE OUR WORLD)
5. Stanley the Steamer (SONGS FOR A PLAYED OUT GENERATION)
6. Love Is Such A Big Word (IKWCSOW)
7. I Know We Can Save Our World (IKWCSOW)
8. Heart's Wisdom Has The Power (IKWCSOW)
9. Rain Keeps Falling (IKWCSOW)
10. Take Me All The Way (IKWCSOW)
I have never had anyone stop me in a Walmart or a grocery store to tell me how much they like my album and that the CD is on their disc player in their car right now, let alone three people in one weekend, but that's what happened this past Saturday and Sunday. Now, you might say to yourself, Two people saw you somewhere and told you they liked your album is that big of a deal to you? The answer would be an emphatic YES! Oh my dear friend, remember that I'm an old amateur musician who lives in a small town not so far away from the West Virginia state line who has labored in complete obscurity for as long as he has been writing and recording music. Someone telling me they enjoy my music is one of the biggest thrills you could imagine for me!
Ten years ago at this time I was mourning the end of my BOK partner-ship with Mike and George III as we prepared for our last gig together, but I was also ready to begin a new era for me in music-making with Amy Bugg and Jeff Lown as Fear + Whiskey (though we hadn't come up with a name for the band at that point).