Behold: a new cult figure! Unheard in his day (and for most of ours...), J.T. IV was the alias of John Timmis the IV, a Chicago resident, ex-institution dweller, and myth maker extraordinaire.
Like a flash, 'Cosmic Lightning' is back among us. The sounds of J.T. IV were barely heard to begin with, and the 2000 or so that the label made back in 2008 - 2009 didn't sate the public appetite, so here we are again.
For the official third version of the album (the second Galactic Zoo Disks / Drag City pressing), further research from Robert Manis (the sonic voyager who brought us Death, as well as J.T. IV) has led to the cover artwork being changed and, additionally, the enclosed DVD contains the entirety of John Henry Timmis IV's 1985 splatter-core opus, 'Cannibal Orgy'. Additionally, a new insert has been created out of additional archival materials, including a brief excerpt from his as-yet unpublished memoir, 'From The Inside', and the cover sleeve for the 'Cannibal Orgy' VHS tape.
Timmis was a damaged young man who'd survived a fractured childhood and a period of institution during his teenaged years. After attending New Trier High School on Chicago's North Shore, he hung around the big town and taught himself how to play guitar. Within a couple years, he'd adopted the name J.T. IV, under which he recorded and pressed a 7"? single entitled 'Waiting For The CTA'. The A-side was lifted wholesale from an early Velvets song, but infused with a new wildness in J.T. IV's hands.
A couple of years after that, J.T. IV had a second single to offer, entitled 'Destructo Rock'. Most of these records were given away in the hopes of attracting listeners to his very occasional shows, but nothing came of it, and few of these records have survived.
In the mid-80s, Timmis directed his energies towards the writing of his memoir and the production of 'Cannibal Orgy' before returning to rock with what would be his final 45, released under the name Frankenstein. A compilation of his recorded output soon followed, but the original 'Cosmic Lightning' LP was mastered in a higher pitch than the songs were originally recorded.
A film that the Guinness Book Of World Records regards as the longest in history ('The Cure For Insomnia') was produced in association with local multimedia artist Lee Groban, along with a pornographic film called 'The Love Quest'. By 1988, Timmis was gone; moved to Ohio, never to be heard from again. He passed away in 2002, after a long struggle with drugs and alcohol.
John Timmis wasn't a punk, but his music was clearly energized by the punk and glam movements - specifically Frank Zappa, Lou Reed, and David Bowie, of whose music he was a great fan. His approach to rock and roll was clearly coming from the outside; his extremely rare performances were self-promoting events, none like real rock shows, more along the lines of make-believe parties. He certainly wasn't a part of any music community in Chicago, but he was a legend in his own mind, which is why his music is so unique, even after all the years. 'Cosmic Lightning' is just about all that's left of the bolt of madness that was J.T. IV - and it rocks.
"Alien prince silk earworm glowing in the streets. The lost prophet returns! Pen and reel revealing the lost rock opera. J.T. IV the unsung rock god. The Midwest messiah. The sounds of warm honey and Quaaludes. Feeds all. No adult supervision required!"? - Ty Segall
Waiting For The CTA
Song For Suzanne
In The Can
Out Of The Can
I Really Love You / You Know That I Love You, Don't You?
One Fine Day With The Karma Man
Sleeve as photographed on our counter with the labels on
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