I don’t know what it was about the Jesus Lizard. They made records that were
sometimes absolutely impenetrable to listen unless you felt like wrestling with a
jackhammer. The music was beyond tough. It was dense, mean, grinding, terse,
easily the most demanding form of rock music without mutating into metal.
Guitarist Duane Denison’s precise jazz-induced, industrial blues riffs came
on like a mechanical wave. Tempered by the throbbing bass lines of David Sims
whose sonic undertow guided McNeilly’s pulsing drum attacks, there wasn’t a live
band who could came anywhere near the powerful, majestic rhythm the Jesus
Lizard push out. And there was frontman David Yow, who performed exorcisms
on himself relentlessly night after night.
Even if you only knew one or two of their songs, and even if the songs on the
record didn’t appeal to you played through the stereo, by the end of a Jesus Lizard
show you were a true believer this was, without a single whiff of doubt, the best
band on the planet.
It’s reassuring, but not surprising that enough people, fans and musicians who
contributed to the Jesus Lizard Book also made that observation. In particular,
Steve Albini… “When I think of the Jesus Lizard, I think of them as the greatest
band I’ve ever seen.”
Denison, Sims, McNeilly and Yow created the Book—a memoir, autobiography,
oral history, photo essay and document about the four personalities who shaped
the band, their ascent, descent and wild times along the way.
An expose of sorts hearing how Boss Hog’s Christina Martinez lent Yow her
panties and fishnets to perform in. What went wrong with the major label deal as
well as the tensions between producers and band members each telling their side
of the story.
Definitely a cut above most band biographies or autobiographies that tell diplomatic
accounts of how their kick at the can went down. Rather, imagine a round
table discussion with the Jesus Lizard in a dark bar drinking all afternoon, listening
to all the war stories.
By B. SImm