Bill Hicks Rant In E Minor

[Rykodisc; 1997]

Styles: stand-up philosophy, spoken word, psychedelic comedy, dark poetry
Others: George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, Mort Saul, David Cross, Lewis Black, Jello Biafra

"I hope I die before I become Pete Townsend" - Kurt Cobain

Since this CD was recorded in the latter half of 1993, mere months away from his death at age 32, not much has changed. William Melvin Hicks remains a cult figure, still relatively obscure in the yawning, instant gratification, reality on television American market from which he came. What is far more alarming is that, though the names have changed and some of the events may be unfamiliar to people who were in their pre-teens at the end, the methods by which our corporate governments manipulate information to their own ends and control freedom, convincing people they are much freer than they truly are, have pretty much stayed the same. To hear Bill talk about Bush and the "war" in Iraq, you'd swear he was still alive — same shit, different decade. As Dubya has won the Supreme Court Justice sweepstakes in his second term and stacked the bench with rightwing nut jobs who put the mental in fundamentalist Christian, Hicks' rants on the conflicting absurdities of the pro-life struggle ring now with as great a sense of urgency as ever. While Andrew "Dice" Clay and Denis Leary's comedy will eventually fade into complete obscurity, Bill's passionate subject matter will be relevant as long as the arms industry is more important economically than eliminating starvation…which is to say, for the remainder of American history.

Most comedians historically prostitute stand-up, using it as a means to an end, usually with the goal of receiving a dubiously funded starring vehicle like a mind numbing sitcom or corporate talk show, thus following a rich line of comics like Ray Romano, Tim Allen, Roseanne, Jay Leno, et cetera. Bill, however, took the aged calling at face value and treated it as the bastion of free expression it can be, where the benefits must be inherent in the act. Being a comic meant he had no boss, that no one could tell him what to do or say, and he took full advantage. He didn't just get up on stage and tell a few jokes or stories; Bill aggressively attacked the popular schools of thought, mob mentality, graphic political deception and hypocrisy, and tried to make people think for themselves, unlike the general millions of Home Improvement clones who are only too eager to fulfill "here we are now, entertain us" without a further thought. Bill's stream of consciousness routines were journeys through which the listener is meant to be pulled off guard and changed for the experience.

At his death, Bill left detailed instructions on how Rant In E Minor and Arizona Bay were to be completed. Though they weren't released for three years post-mortem, these are strongly considered by fans and critics alike to be his finest recorded work. Interludes of the former Georgian's own music soften the blows of his abrasive words and concepts, creating a reasonably calming flow for each album. As the centerpieces of his legacy, he'd envisioned Bay to be the Dark Side Of The Moon for comedy, but the patchwork of performances that went into Rant reach far beyond the greatest Pink Floyd reference. With most of the material for these recorded after the pancreatic cancer had been found and was progressing beyond chemo treatments, Rant is Bill at his most cathartic. My world was forever fucked up the first time I heard it. Till that point, I thought Denis Leary's No Cure For Cancer was hilarious. Then I found out Leary lifted many of the ideas for his breakout CD from the material Bill had been developing since the early eighties for this album, watered them down, of course, to cater to the beer swilling, soap opera and wrestling watching pop fans Hicks stood against. Bill didn't really hate the people too lazy or ignorant to understand. His ultimate message, revealed to those who could see past his foul language and unapologetic delivery, was one of love, compassion, and understanding. He was a stand-up philosopher who upheld the tenets of artistic integrity, battled tyranny and injustice wherever he saw it, appreciated only by a frustrated few for many, many years. I've listened to a lot of comedy albums over the years and Rant In E Minor is by far the best album I know of. With the seemingly self-perpetuating likes of Margaret Cho and Jimmy Kimmel, this will probably remain so for many years to come.

"I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love, and laughter abide, I am there in spirit."

1. Fevered Egos
2. Easter
3. Gideons
4. People Suck
5. Pro Life
6. People Who Hate People
7. Non-Smokers
8. Gifts Of Forgiveness
9. Purple Vein Dick Joke
10. Confession Time (COPS)
11. Wax Dart
12. I'm Talking To The Women Here
13. You're Wrong Night
14. A New Flag (Patriotism)
15. Gays In The Military
16. I.R.S. Bust
17. Politics In America
18. Quiet Loner
19. Artistic Roll Call
20. Orange Drink
21. Save Willie
22. Deficit (Jesse Helms)
23. Rush Limbaugh
24. Time To Evolve
25. Waco (Koresh)
26. The Pope
27. Christianity
28. Seven Seals
29. One If The Boys (Clinton)
30. Car Bomb Derby
31. The Elite
32. Love List (No Future)
33. Back To The Garden
34. Your Children Aren't Special
35. Wizards Have Landed
36. Lift Me Lord

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