13th Floor Elevators
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

The Psychedelic Sound Of (1966), 7.5/10
Easter Everywhere (1967), 6/10
Roky Erickson: And The Aliens (1980), 6.5/10
Roky Erickson: Don't Slander Me (1986), 5/10
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(Translated by Ornella C. Grannis)

The 13th Floor Elevators were perhaps the inventors of psychedelic rock. Certainly they were among the very first to play it. They were also one of the first bands to suffer the prejudice of the moralists and the law. They were, alas, also among the first to pay the consequences of drug abuse.

The band formed in Austin, Texas, around jug musician Tommy Hall and vocalist Roky Erickson, who had already released an earlier version of his You're Gonna Miss Me in 1965, with the Spades. Tommy Hall, who had a background in science and philosophy and had been one of the first kids in town to experiment with drugs, was the brain behind the project. He wrote the cerebral lyrics to their songs, and he invented the sound of the electric jug that became the trademark of their arrangements. Stacy Sutherland was the quintessential fuzztone and reverb guitarist.

Their first album, The Psychedelic Sound Of The 13th Floor Elevators (International Artists, 1966), released in the spring of 1966, is one of the most fascinating of the acid age, the archetype of psychedelia. The album presents a collection of acid ballads that feed on sound effects (Reverberation), on ethereal folk-rock (Splash), on rhythmic boogie (You're Gonna Miss Me), and on down-and-dirty improvisation (above all Roller Coaster, but also Fire Engine). Theirs is a rhythm and blues a la Rolling Stones, viewed through the deforming lens of LSD.

The group's anthem, You're Gonna Miss Me, which made history in the genre, is a ferocious and dissolute soul song with hints of Tex-Mex and depraved vocalizations, full of instinctive fury, and propelled by the demented rhythm of Hall's deafening electric jug.

Despite the instability of the lineup, the group recorded Easter Everywhere (Radar, 1967), which includes Postures, She Lives In A Time Of Her Own and Skip Inside This House. The album was Tommy Hall's attempt at assimilating Eastern philosophies (Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism) as well as Quantum Physics into psychedelic music. Then Hall left the band while Erickson was arrested for drug possession, and locked in a psychiatric hospital for schizophrenia. He is practically absent from Bull Of The Woods (Decal, 1968), an album that contains some of their most bizarre experiments. After their break-up the band attained cult status. Best (Eva, 1994) is a good anthology.

When Erickson came out of the psychiatric hospital (1972), he published a book of poetry. Despite his mental instability, he hit the scene again during the rush of psychedelic revival and punk-rock, with dark humor and a taste for the supernatural that carried him away from his origins, towards a macabre rhythm and blues, with lyrics filled with alarming monsters (Bermuda, 1977, Two Headed Dog, 1975).

And The Aliens (CBS, 1980) and The Evil One (415, 1981 - Sympathy, 2002) are the two albums which define Erickson's solo career. The second contains bewildering rave-ups such as Creatures With The Atom Brain and Stand For The Fire Demon, voodoo-blues a la Credence Clearwater Revival, such as Night of the Vampire, and his spiritual testaments: I Think of Demons and I Walked with a Zombie.

An album of previously unreleased material, Don't Slander Me (Pink Dust, 1986), is a work of lesser quality, except for Bermuda and the wild Don't Slander Me.

Erickson ended up in a mental institution again, but the record industry continued to release every thing that he had absentmindedly recorded. I Think Of Demons (Edset, 1987) is a compilation of leftover cuts from those sessions. Gremlins Have Pictures (Pink Dust, 1986), Mad Dog (Swordfish, 1992) and Love To See You Bleed (Swordfish, 1992) include several rarities. Click Your Fingers (New Roses, 1990) is a compilation of EPs: Mine Mine Mind (Sponge, 1977) and Clear Night For Love (New Roses, 1985), and the Holiday Inn Tapes, which are very crude acoustic recordings. Never Say Goodbye (Emperor Jones, 1998) is a collection of home recordings made between 1971 and 1985. Three live albums were also released.

Broke and incapable of caring for himself, Erickson released one last, very spartan album, All That May Do My Rhyme (Trance Syndicate, 1995), recycling old material (the EP Clear Night For Love, the 1966 single We Sell Out by the Spades, and remixes of old classics) along with new compositions.

I 13th Floor Elevators sono forse gli inventori del rock psichedelico, e certamente uno dei primi suoi esponenti. Furono anche uno dei primi a fare le spese dei benpensanti e della legge. Furono, ahime`, anche fra i primi a pagare le conseguenze dell'abuso di stupefacenti.

Il complesso si formo` ad Austin, in Texas, attorno al musicista jug Tommy Hall e al chitarrista Roky Erickson (che aveva gia` pubblicato la prima versione della sua You're Gonna Miss Me nel 1965 con gli Spades). Tommy Hall, che aveva un passato di scienza e filosofia ed era stato uno dei primi ragazzi in citta` a drogarsi, era il cervello dell'operazione. Scrisse le liriche cerebrali delle canzoni e invento` il suono del jug elettrico che divenne il marchio dei loro arrangiamenti. Stacy Sutherland era la quintessenza del chitarrista di fuzztone ed eco.

Il loro primo album, The Psychedelic Sound Of (International Artists, 1966), uscito nella primavera del 1966, e` uno dei piu` avvincenti dell'epoca lisergica, l'archetipo di tutta la psichedelia. Il gruppo scodella una collezione di ballate acide che si nutrono di effetti sonori (Reverberation), di etereo folk-rock (Splash), di boogie incalzanti (You're Gonna Miss Me), di laide improvvisazioni (soprattutto Roller Coaster ma anche Fire Engine). Dilaga il rhythm and blues alla Rolling Stones, ma filtrato attraverso le lenti deformanti dell'LSD.
L'anthem del gruppo, You're Gonna Miss Me, uno di quelli che scrissero la storia del genere, e` un soul feroce e dissoluto con spruzzi di tex-mex e vocalizzi depravati, intriso di una visceralita` furibonda, propulso da un ritmo demenziale, nel frastuono assordante del jug elettrico di Hall.

Nonostante l'instabilita` della formazione, il gruppo registro` ancora Easter Everywhere (Radar, 1967), con Postures, She Lives In A Time Of Her Own e Skip Inside This House. Era il tentativo di Tommy Hall di assimilare le filosofie orientali (Induismo, Buddismo e Taoismo) e la Fisica Quantistica nella musica psichedelica. Ma poi Hall lascio` il gruppo mentre Erickson venne arrestato per droghe e ricoverato in un ospedale psichiatrico per schizofrenia. E` praticamente assente da Bull Of The Woods (Decal, 1968), che peraltro contiene alcuni dei loro esperimenti piu` bizzarri. Dopo lo scioglimento, il complesso divenne oggetto di culto. Best (Eva, 1994) e Absolutely the Best (Sundazed, 2002) sono ottime antologie.

Quando Erickson usci` dall'ospedale psichiatrico (1972), pubblico` un libro di poesie. Benche' ancora afflitto da instabilita` psichica, sulla spinta del revival psichedelico e del punk-rock si riaffaccio` sulle scene, con un umore cupo e un gusto per il soprannaturale che lo portarono lontano dalle origini, verso un rhythm and blues macabro popolato di mostri inquietanti (Bermuda, 1977, Two Headed Dog, 1975).

And The Aliens (CBS, 1980) e The Evil One (415, 1981 - Sympathy, 2002) sono i due album tratti dalle sessions del 1977, a cui si affida di fatto la carriera solista di Erickson. Contengono rave-up stralunati come Creature With The Atom Brain e Stand For The Fire Demon, il voodoo-blues alla CCR di Night of the Vampire, e i suoi testamenti spirituali: I Think of Demons e I Walked with a Zombie.

Erickson fini` di nuovo in manicomio, ma l'industria discografica si diverti` a tirar fuori dal cassetto tutto cio` che aveva distrattamente registrato. I Think Of Demons (Edset, 1987) raccoglie gli avanzi di quelle sessions.

Un album rimasto inedito verra` pubblicato anni dopo come Don't Slander Me (Pink Dust, 1986), ma contiene materiale inferiore (eccetto Bermuda e la selvaggia Don't Slander Me). Gremlins Have Pictures (Pink Dust, 1986), Mad Dog (Swordfish, 1992) e Love To See You Bleed (Swordfish, 1992) contengono rarita` varie. Click Your Fingers (New Rose, 1990) raccoglie gli EP Mine Mine Mind (Sponge, 1977) e Clear Night For Love (New Rose, 1985), nonche' gli Holiday Inn Tapes (registrazioni acustiche molto approssimative). Never Say Goodbye (Emperor Jones, 1998) contiene registrazioni domestiche catturate fra il 1971 e il 1985. Uscirono anche tre album dal vivo.

La salute mentale sara` pero` sempre un problema. Erickson, ridotto sul lastrico e incapace di gestirsi, pubblico` ancora un disco molto spartano come All That May Do My Rhyme (Trance Syndicate, 1995), che ricicla anche vecchio materiale.

Roky Erickson was by now incapable of recording, but a deluge of albums kept up with the cult. Reverend Of Karmic Youth (Skyclad, 1991) documents a 1979 and a 1985 dates. Beauty And The Beast (Sympathy, 1993) documents a 1982 concert. Demon Angel (Texas Hotel, 1995) is the soundtrack to a Erickson documentary. Never Say Goodbye (Emperor Jones, 1999) collects unreleased acoustic tracks that date from his 1971 hospitalization and 1974. I Have Always Been Here Before (Shout Factory, 2004) is a two-CD retrospective that covers both 13th Floor Elevators and solo albums.

Okkervil River backed Roky Erickson on his True Love Cast Out All Evil (2010).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Lorenzo Ingarelli)

Roky Erickson fu da questo punto in poi incapace di registrare, ma un mucchio di album sostennero il mito. Reverend Of Karmic Youth (Skyclad, 1991) documenta una data del 1979 e una del 1985. Beauty And The Beast (Sympathy, 1993) documenta un concerto del 1982. Demon Angel (Texas Hotel, 1995) è la colonna sonora di un documentario su Erickson. Never Say Goodbye (Emperor Jones, 1999) raccoglie pezzi acustici inediti che risalgono al suo ricovero nel 1971 e al 1974. I Have Always Been Here Before (Shout Factory, 2004) è una retrospettiva in due cd che ricopre sia il periodo 13th Floor Elevators che la carriera solista.

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