Revolutionary comedian Bill Hicks is back with Arizona Bay: Extended, now available from Comedy Dynamics.
Bill Hicks was a strange combination of jester, philosopher and poet. Much of his material contains prophetic commentary with his incendiary insight on racial unrest, police brutality, US wars in the Middle East, celebrity culture and what he felt was a two-party system rigged in favor of corporate interests. All of these hot topics are hilariously dissected in the new, extended edition of his comedy concept album Arizona Bay.
Arizona Bay was an ambitious project that blended stand-up with musical accompaniment by Hicks and his friend Kevin Booth. Paul Outhwaite, author of One Conciousness-Bill Hicks, reports that Hicks referred to Arizona Bayas “his comedic Dark Side Of The Moon” and that it was to serve “as an all-encompassing view of America as a microcosm of the world.”
The album was built on a darkly humorous scenario envisioned by Hicks where Los Angles (“the City of Angels”), or “Hell-A” as he called it, falls in the Pacific Ocean, is flushed away and “all it will leave is Arizona Bay.” To Hicks, L.A. represented commercialism, materialism and mediocrity that was eroding away at the best humanity had to offer. “L.A. is a nightmare place,” he said.
Kevin Booth, Hicks’ co-conspirator and the album’s original producer, writes in the 1997 liner notes of Arizona Bay, “Bill had a fantasy that he would someday gather up a troop of Boy Scouts, give them crow bars, and take them to the San Andreas fault. Sometimes you have to lose a finger to save a hand.”
This version of the underground comedy classic is “much longer” than the original, according to Alyssa Gibbs of Comedy Dynamics, with material previously unheard by the masses. The music for the original album was recorded at Fossil Creek Studio in Austin, Texas from November 1992 to June 1993. This extended release, however, does not have the bluesy soundtrack that distinguishes the original. According to Gibbs, this is so the listener can “hear Arizona Bay like an audience did when it was first recorded.”
William Melvin Hicks, better known as “Bill,” came screaming into the world on December 16, 1961. After twenty years of performing stand-up comedy live on stage and for television audiences, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the age of 32. He died on February 26, 1994. Before his death, he had recorded a wealth of material tackling various subjects, mostly under the category of “controversial.”
Hicks was the first comedian to be axed from “The Late Show with David Letterman.” The Hicks’ portion of the program did not air until many years later. For his dedication to the evolution of comedy, Hicks was admired by fellow comedians including George Carlin, Richard Pryor and John Cleese, just to name a few. Comedian Brett Butler said Hicks was “easily the best comic of my generation.”
Hicks also had a cult following among musicians as well, earning praise from Henry Rollins, Tom Waits and members of Rage Against the Machine. The band Tool was so inspired by Hicks that they recorded Ænima, an album partially inspired by Hicks’ material, most notably his “Arizona Bay” routine where the band transformed Hicks’ plea into a ritualistic chant calling for L.A. to fall in the ocean and rid the world of its evils. Hicks later opened for Tool during the 1993 Lollapalooza tour.
Comedy Dynamics, an independent comedy production and distribution company in North America, released this album so Hicks fans can “revel in his genius” once more. Arizona Bay: Extended became available on digital retailers and streaming websites on November 27.
The album is available at:
Google Play http://bit.ly/1Ntu4j3