The first thing I ever heard about Bill Hicks was the title of his fourth comedy album, Rant In E-Minor. I was reading one of the music magazines – Mojo or Q, or something like that – back in 1994, and Phil Jupitus was being interviewed about his favourite albums. He chose Rant In E-Minor purely for its superb title (because surely everybody knows that Relentless is Bill’s best from those original four Rykodisc albums). It is a great title; possibly the greatest for a comedy album, especially for one so angry.
This release by Comedy Dynamics, for Record Store Day 2016, represents the very first of Bill’s work to be released on vinyl. It’s an expanded and unedited version of the Rant In E-Minor album, minus Bill’s musical interludes from the original release. Recorded at The Laff Stop in Austin, Texas in October 1993, the performance falls four months after his pancreatic cancer diagnosis, and just four months before his death at the age of 32.
My only concern is that Bill’s best friend, Kevin Booth, who produced three of Bill’s four original albums, seems to have now been sidelined by the Hicks family (three of which are listed as producers on this release). I hope Kevin still has some skin in the game, and eventually gets to release those original albums on vinyl at some point.
In early 1995 Bill’s family released a brief essay that he had written a week prior to his death:
I was born William Melvin Hicks on December 16, 1961 in Valdosta, Georgia. Ugh. Melvin Hicks from Georgia. Yee Har! I already had gotten off to life on the wrong foot. I was always “awake,” I guess you’d say. Some part of me clamoring for new insights and new ways to make the world a better place. All of this came out years down the line, in my multitude of creative interests that are the tools I now bring to the Party. Writing, acting, music, comedy. A deep love of literature and books. Thank God for all the artists who’ve helped me. I’d read these words and off I went—dreaming my own imaginative dreams. Exercising them at will, eventually to form bands, comedy, more bands, movies, anything creative. This is the coin of the realm I use in my words—Vision. On June 16, 1993 I was diagnosed with having “liver cancer that had spread from the pancreas.” One of life’s weirdest and worst jokes imaginable. I’d been making such progress recently in my attitude, my career and realizing my dreams that it just stood me on my head for a while. “Why me!?” I would cry out, and “Why now!?” Well, I know now there may never be any answers to those particular questions, but maybe in telling a little about myself, we can find some other answers to other questions. That might help our way down our own particular paths, towards realizing my dream of New Hope and New Happiness. Amen. I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.
Hit: Fevered Egos
Hidden Gem: Confession Time (Cops)