Alibi V.23 No.9 • Feb 27-March 5, 2014 

Book Review

Keep Calm and Read

The Jesus Lizard Book


When I Instagrammed my reviewer's copy of The Jesus Lizard Book, the impassioned remembrances rolled right in. One friend reminisced about a gig at Liberty Lunch, the legendary, now-defunct Austin venue. Another proudly revealed that charismatic lead singer David Yow had pulled him onstage and requested a love bite; my pal obliged, and Yow returned the favor by slapping him and pushing him back into the audience. There were more salacious tidbits, but you get the idea.

When one attends a Jesus Lizard show, one does not expect (or hope) to remain unscathed. I wish I was ready to commit to biting David Yow onstage, but I'm simply not, and besides, TJL shows are few and far between these days. If there's a special place in your heart for the most irrepressible rock band of the '90s but your days of public sadomasochism and/or masochism are over, consider this book the universe's response to your Jesus Lizard-lovin' prayers.

The band's members—caterwauling frontman/sexpot David Yow, bassist David Wm. Sims and guitarist Duane Denison—clearly brought their raw, passionate intensity of vision and performance to the creation of this stunning new work of popular culture historiography. Featuring lengthy contributions from Yow, Sims and Denison, its ephemera-laden documentation includes childhood photos, concert posters (including some killer work by Frank Kozik and T.A.Z.), set lists, album art, concert photography, excerpts from the TJL “sketchbook,” Yow's recipe for Chocolate Bourbon Bread Pudding and much more. Whether you're a hardcore acolyte or a TJL neophyte, it's not an exaggeration to say this labor of love resulted in a tome that's the next best thing to a time machine.

And it's not just members of the infamous band who toss in their two cents. Contributions from rock crit-household names like Mike Watt, Sasha Frere-Jones, Alexander Hacke, Christopher R. Weingarten and others round out this work of hagiography—by which I mean writing about the lives of (rock and roll) saints, not heaping undeserved praise on has-been artists. The Jesus Lizard Book is slated to be released on an unsuspecting public on March, 4, 2014. The limited-edition package boasting a gold 7-inch record signed by the band has already sold out, but I heartily recommend scoring the hardcover version for your own ashtray- and crushed-beer-can-littered coffee table. And while the numerous photos of Yow in various states of undress may urge one on to mental (or literal) masturbation, The Jesus Lizard Book is a work of art, and it should be treated as such.