December 6, 2013

The 13th Floor Elevators - The Psychedelic Sounds of The 13th Floor Elevators (1966) / Easter Everywhere (1967) / Live (1968) / Bull of the Woods (1968)


The mid-1960s saw the rise of countless local garage-rock scenes throughout the U.S. that, in many ways, laid the groundwork for the psychedelic movement later in the decade and also the punk movement that first cropped up in NYC in the mid-1970s. While most of the bands comprising these local scenes were short-lived and destined for permanent obscurity, The 13th Floor Elevators, from Austin, TX. and fronted by one of the most tragic figures of the rock-era, Roky Erickson, arguably rock 'n' roll's first real counter-culture "wildman" figure and electric jug player and self-styled spiritual leader Tommy Hall, who claimed to have participated in LSD experiments at UT Austin in 1964, transcended their provincial origins by being one of the first bands to openly advocate the use of psychotropic drugs as a form of mind expansion as well as allowing the effects of this practice to overtly influence their music. Hall: "Everything I wrote was inspired through my taking LSD. I invented the electric jug totally out of my desire to find a place onstage with this new group, so I could be a part of it, and so I could communicate my new ideas through the lyrics I wanted to write." What set The 13th Floor Elevators apart from their garage-band contemporaries was their musical sophistication, which manifested itself not only in their playing, but also in their tendency to draw from multiple genres to create their distinctive brand of melancholic psych-rock. Guitarist Stacy Sutherland was the driving force in achieving the band's unique sound. Hall: Stacy was a consummate guitarist, far ahead of his time. He had deep fears about his dying young under violent circumstances. This manifested itself as a deep, mysterious, soulful feeling in his music and gave the Elevators a profound base to our overall sound. His sense of impending doom was indeed prophetic."

The 13th Floor Elevators led a dangerously precarious (in a legal sense) bohemian existence in amidst the ultra-conservative culture of their home state, something that eventually necessitated an extended stay in San Francisco in 1966-1967, where they helped foment the quickly developing Bay Area psychedelic scene and reconnected with fellow Austin native Janis Joplin (Joplin is rumored to have been influenced by Erickson's distinctive vocal style). Just before their visit to the Bay Area, the band had released their classic debut album, The Psychedelic Sounds of The 13th Floor Elevators, which was something of a clarion call for an impending revolution in rock music. Aided by a breakthrough single, "You're Gonna Miss Me," which landed Erickson, Hall & co. on, of all things, American Bandstand, The 13th Floor Elevators' debut album was a minor commercial success despite their humble garage-band origins; however, what truly set the album apart was its palpable sense of its own pioneering status. In 1966, there were a number of bands toying with adding psychedelic elements to their songs, but in the case of The 13th Floor Elevators, they were pretty much inventing psych-rock from scratch by investing their songs with a manic sense of emotional urgency and broadening their musical palette to include sonic textures falling far outside the purview of conventional pop music (not the least of which were Hall's simply bizarre contributions on the electric jug).

Stacy Sutherland
After returning to Austin in early 1967, the band began recording what would become their masterpiece, Easter Everywhere, an unparallelled piece of late-sixties psychedelia that features a more polished and confident sound than its precursor matched with a cohesive set of consistently fine songs. From the acid-drenched slow-burner "Slip Inside This House," to the beautifully mournful folk ballad "I Had to Tell You," Roky Erickson's vocals are simply stunning in their ability to convey everything from unhinged passion to wistful melancholia, and Stacy Sutherland's lead guitar work is an exercise in understated melodic brilliance. Sadly, a year after the release of Easter Everywhere, Erickson was arrested for the possession of a single marijuana joint, which, in Texas at the time, was prosecuted in outlandishly harsh ways. In order to avoid a 10 year prison term, Erickson pleaded insanity; consequently, he was institutionalized and repeatedly subjected to electroshock therapy until his release in 1972.  As a result of Erickson's fate, The 13th Floor Elevators slowly fell apart, finally disbanding in 1969 after releasing Bull of the Woods; however, few if any bands were as instrumental in the rise of psychedelia and the unprecedented revolution that rock music underwent during the late 1960s. Tommy Hall: "Most people got caught up with illusions, failing to see truth provided by the psychedelic experiences. You must look past the pyramid, into its shadow, to find the truth."


The Psychedelic World of The 13th Floor Elevators (2002) Compilation

Disc I- The Psychedelic Sounds of The 13th Floor Elevators (1966)
 1. You're Gonna Miss Me
 2. Roller Coaster
 3. Splash 1
 4. Reverberation (Doubt) 
 5. Don't Fall Down
 6. Fire Engine
 7. Thru the Rhythm
 8. You Don't Know
 9. Kingdom of Heaven 
10. Monkey Island
11. Tried to Hide
-Live in San Francisco, 1966-
12. Everybody Needs Somebody to Love
13. Before You Accuse Me 
14. You Don't Know
15. I'm Gonna Love You Too 
16. You Really Got Me
17. Splash 1
18. Fire Engine
19. Roll Over Beethoven
20. The Word
21. Monkey Island
22. Roller Coaster

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Disc II- Easter Everywhere (1967) 
 2. Slide Machine
 4. Nobody to Love
 5. Baby Blue
 6. Earthquake
 7. Dust
10. Pictures (Leave Your Body Behind)
-Live in Texas, 1967-
11. Splash 1
12. Kingdom of Heaven
13. You're Gonna Miss Me
14. She Lives (In a Time of Her Own)
15. Reverberation (Doubt) 
-Bonus Tracks-
16. The Spades- You're Gonna Miss Me
17. The Spades- We Sell Soul
18. Fire in My Bones
19. Levitation (Instrumental)
20. Slip Inside This House (Single Edited Version) 

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Disc III- Live (1968)
 1. Before You Accuse Me
 2. She Lives in a Time of Her Own
 3. Tried to Hide
 4. You Gotta Take That Girl
 5. I'm Gonna Love You Too 
 6. Everybody Needs Somebody to Love
 7. I've Got Levitation
 8. You Can't Hurt Me Anymore
 9. Roller Coaster 
10. You're Gonna Miss Me 


-Bull of the Woods (1968) 
11. Livin' On
12. Barnyard Blues
13. Till Then
14. Never Another
15. Rose and the Thorn
16. Down by the River
17. Scarlet and Gold 
18. Street Song
19. Doctor Doom
20. With You
21. May the Circle Remain Unbroken
-Bonus Tracks-
22. Wait for My Love
23. Roky Erickson & Clementine Hall- Splash 1
24. Roky Erickson & Clementine Hall- Right Tracks Now
25. 60 Second Radio Spot for "Bull Of The Woods" Album 


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11 comments:

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  2. I have been waiting very patiently for this upload. Christmas came early! Thank you voixautre.

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  3. The 13th Floor Elevators totally never got their due! Even tho that docu a few years ago was horribly heartbreaking, I loved that it brought Roky out again. I didn't get to any of his proper shows but I did catch a free show he did with Okkervil River for little kids that was super great! He did a question and answer sesh with the kids after that mostly was inquries about how loud he could play.

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    Replies
    1. Ha, that's a surreal scene indeed- a Q & A session between Roky and a bunch of kids- pure genius!

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  4. I've been having trouble getting this comment thingy to work, probably just because I'm a bit thick, but that's why I haven't been able to say great to have you back, and thanks a million for 28th day and True West! And Elevators! And the most enjoyable writing!

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  5. Whaddaya know, it worked this time!

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    Replies
    1. Dr. Hank,

      great to hear from you! If you continue to have problems leaving comments. I will try to fix whatever the problem is. Thanks for the compliments. I am really enjoying doing this again

      Delete
  6. This may be one of the most influential bands of our time and i'm never tired of listening their recorded legacy. This comp may not be nothing new to me but it's a big pleasure to see it posted here a classy blog with amazing good taste. Thanks for it.

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  7. TinyRonin, I agree, psych-rock doesn't get much better than the Elevators

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