As a reader as well as a writer of books on popular music, I'd be pretty skeptical if someone said they could turn out two books about the same album inside of a decade. Since the publication of my new book, For Whom the Cowbell Tolls: 25 Years of Paul's Boutique, puts me in the position of defending this claim, I feel like an explanation is in order.
I could take the poetic route and assert that, just as Paul's Boutique is a samplescape that repays endless listens with endless revelations, two books on this inexhaustible subject is nothing. As my old man drilled into me from an early age, however, it's easier just to tell the truth.
Back in 2006, when I finished my 33 1/3 volume on the greatest Beastie Boys album ever, I was pretty sure there wasn't much left to add. It turned out that I was spectacularly wrong. Not as spectacularly wrong as the time I pushed a car out of a ditch into a head-on collision with a state trooper, but still, spectacularly wrong.
The guy who showed me I was spectacularly wrong is a writer from Los Angeles, the very appropriately-named Peter Relic. He's a pop archaeologist of the first order; in his researches for his own book about Delicious Vinyl, he turned up so many unbelievable Paul's Boutique-related facts and fragments that it would have been a sin to let them keep moldering. And Pete inspired me to resume my own digging into this still-fertile excavation of pop's past.
The two of us thus teamed up on a mission to let the world know, in the immortal words of Paul Harvey, “the rest of the story” about this great, greatly-misunderstood classic. The fact that For Whom the Cowbell Tolls is being released on the 25th anniversary of the album's release either shows that we're incredibly lucky, or are opportunists of the first order. (Answer: C—both of the above.)
If you're a Beasties supporter like us, your experience is bittersweet. You have one of the great back catalogs in recent pop music to enjoy, ad infinitum. But after the untimely death of Adam Yauch, it appears there will be no more new music. So we want to give fans what we hope is the next-best thing: new information. (Including new information about new—or at least, newly-discovered—Beastie Boys music).
Those who've read my 33 1/3 book on Paul's Boutique—and a sincere thank-you to all of you—can consider this, I hope, the perfect companion piece. It hopefully fills in gaps, explores some uncharted avenues, and helps provide the most complete picture possible of an album that marked the artistic summit for all its participants. But it can certainly be enjoyed as a solitary exhibit, as well. Either way, Pete and I hope you will kick back, throw on some headphones and your copy of Paul's Boutique, and let us guide you through some of the deepest, trickiest, least-traveled corners of a pop labyrinth like no other.
For Whom the Cowbell Tolls: 25 Years of Paul's Boutique, by Dan LeRoy and Peter Relic, will be released on July 25 on 66 2/3 Press. It will be available through Amazon.com as a Kindle eBook for $5.99 US (readable on any smart phone, tablet, or computer with free Kindle software).