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The Jesus Lizard Book (Akashic)

20 December 2013

The Jesus Lizard have been called the best live band of the 1990’s. Even having not witnessed them live until their reunion in 2009, I have definitely seen why. Their sound and dynamic is more than tight, more taut, as if the slightest miscue between guitarist Duane Denison, bassist David Wm. Sims, and drummer Mac McNeilly could result in a cataclysmic event.

Enter frontman David Yow, the eye of the storm. In his case, however, the center of the hurricane was hardly the safest place to be. As the monster of The Jesus Lizard roared in a slightly contained fury (Sims in attack stance, in lockstep with McNeilly, Denison unleashing riffs unlike any other while making it all look so damned easy), Yow flung himself into every inch of the venue with unbridled recklessness. A Jesus Lizard live event wasn’t just a concert, it was Extreme Championship Wrestling.

Yow had no regard for his body as he was often enveloped by the crowd. The Jesus Lizard were the nineties’ answer to Iggy & the Stooges but with a bit of longevity, a rock and roll force of nature destined to be unappreciated (or, at least, under-appreciated) until after their demise.

Thankfully, the band has put together The Jesus Lizard Book, a collection of polaroids, anecdotes and more for past, current, and future fans to be educated on the best live act of its generation. This is no mere coffee table book. While there are plenty of pictures, there is also a good amount of substance. Each band member gives some autobiographical background. David Sims even provides details about the recording process as well as track-by-track analysis of every full-length album released by the band. In the back of the book is a complete and chronological gigography of every intense concert they performed all over the world.

Plenty of the Jesus Lizard’s peers were fans of the band and their work ethic. Former producer Steve Albini (along with members of Fugazi, Pavement, and many others) offer up stories of their encounters with the invincible creature that was the Jesus Lizard. Book is so enjoyable with plenty of laughs and jaw-dropping recollections, sprinkled with artwork, and even a recipe for chocolate bread pudding. It’s everything you could ask for, everything that you’d come to expect from a JL release: four-letter title, no filler, and no filter.

For more on Book, you can check out my recent interview with Mr. Yow himself.