Are You Receiving Me? — The Annotated Boris (Day 6)
By Mike Faloon
Finished The Annotated Boris today. It gets surprisingly dark down the home stretch. The post-Boris the Sprinkler Suck days were marked by internal turmoil and external decline (in terms of recorded output). I was aware of the latter. I assumed the former but had no clue as to the extent of how unpleasant life within one of my favorite Clinton era bands became. (I can’t believe there was a period in which Paul #1, the band’s guitarist — Boris’s Keith Richards — wasn’t in the band. That was messed up. That remains messed up.)
The band's final days weren’t that decadent—not compared to the nonsense I’ve read about in band biographies and recall from the days of VH1’s Behind the Music — but the “creative differences” depicted are ripe with awfulness. I noticed, however, that as Boris's internal workings became less fun and less productive that the following things occurred in the book: a) the lyrics lost their “nation of the weird” luster, provided less bounce, more thud, b) those same lyrics sparked fewer footnotes, c) the narrative/memoir sections became longer and more compelling (except for the exhaustive play-by-play of the band’s attempt to record a Devil Dogs cover for a European compilation. Who would have thought that such a small ripple in the pond would induce such duress?). By then it was clear that everyone had lost sight of the prime directive, if indeed a prime directive still existed.
Where does that place The Annotated Boris? It's one of the most enjoyable music books of the past decade. Much as I've dug music bios in the past I've had my fill of what came along before I was dipping my toes in the punk rock waters. I'd rather read about what other people were doing in the '90s and beyond. In that regard The Annotated Boris belongs right next to Todd Taylor’s Born to Rock (and just above Eric Davidson’s The Gunk Punk Undergut).
Next in line: a collection of Norb’s best zine columns followed by a round up of Boris the Sprinkler’s finest non-LP sides. I'll wait patiently.