Roky on the 13th Floor - C or D / S&D

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Currently listening to Roky's "You're Gonna Miss Me". I have never much liked the 13th Floor Elevators. Classic or dud? Search and destroy what exactly?

nathalie, Wednesday, 25 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

CLASSIC. My favourite rock singer just about ever. recommended - nothing 'cause you said you'd never liked the 13th floor elevators.
OK you should get EASTER EVERYWHERE & for solo Roky you could start w/ THE EVIL ONE or the French EP with Starry Eyes & shit.

duane, Wednesday, 25 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Erm...

Search: _The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators_. Garage becomes psychedelia in a weird mutation of electric jug and fuzz guitar. Especially URGENT and KEY for the classic pseudo-hippie liner notes on that back. I keep flipping back and forth between this and _Easter Everywhere_ as to which is my favourite album. Psychedelic sounds errs on the punk side, Easter errs on the hippie wibble side, (Slip Inside This House... 8 minutes of CLASSIC hippie wibble) but they're both classics. God, I need to listen to these records again, for things like "Let me take you to the empty place on myyyyyy... fiiiiirrre en-GINE!"

By Bull of the Woods, (Destroy!!!) they've gone over totally to the hippie wibble side of badness, and the whole thing is drenched in an echo chamber that would make a shoegazer blush. There was some nonsense with lineup changes and principle songwriter changes, as well, but I'm not too knowledgable about that sort of thing. Much is made about Roky Erikson's "mental illness" trying to make him some sort of martyr. I think mythologising him makes the lyrics less powerful, but maybe that's just me.

You might almost be better off getting one of the myriad compliation albums. Their songs are so varied from the aforementioned garge punk of "Miss Me" to the out and out psychotic psychedelic hippie wibble of Slip Inside and She Lives. I'm not helping matters, am I?

Kate the Saint, Wednesday, 25 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

I think mythologising him makes the lyrics less powerful, but maybe that's just me

Roky didn't actually write a lot of the lyrics, it was the jug player who was responsible for the famous pseudo-mystical words on Slip Inside this House and most of the other classics. (that last sentence sounded like something from "the Rutles"). I think setting Roky apart from the rest of the group is a wrong turn - they all contributed something great. He had the voice, though.

I agree with Kate otherwise. my favourite is Easter Everywhere, but you shouldn't completely destroy Bull of the Woods, the last song "may the circle remain unbroken" is one of the most eerie and beautiful things I've ever heard.

Alasdair, Wednesday, 25 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Sorry, I forgot "May the Circle" which is the only mitigating instance in an otherwise steaming pile of poo. My ex-roomie and I once wanted to make a compilation of dronerock versions of that song, but realised we'd only have, like, 13th Floor Elevators, Spacemen 3 and... oh, I forget the other one. Low?

Kate the Saint, Wednesday, 25 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Wasn't it Yo La Tengo? Could be wrong. Actually _will_ be wrong.

nathalie, Wednesday, 25 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Could be Yo La Tengo... or Yo La Tenglow..

Maybe I've just made up an imaginary CD of bands I would *like* to see do versions of it... Low, Yo La Tengo, Bowery Electric, Windy & Carl...

Kate the Saint, Wednesday, 25 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

If you're looking for a solid intro, there's this psychedelic pastel- colored compilation with 20 songs from all 3 of the Elevators' legitimate releases. 8 tracks each from the first two albums, and 4 from _Bull of the Woods_.

As much as I like what I've heard, I can't help but notice that Roky is a shadow of himself after the 1st album. That hellacious screech of his (most apparent on "You're Gonna Miss Me") gets replaced by a stoned sort of yip.

David Raposa, Wednesday, 25 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

yeah "May the Circle..." keeps "Bull" afloat...I got another cover of that song for you too (a good one), it's by Heazlewood/King Loser .
so NOBODY else likes solo Roky? I think that stuff is choice.

don't shake me lucifer, Thursday, 26 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Oh, I love solo Roky. There's a compilation called You're Gonna Miss Me that came out a few years ago, with tons of great stuff on it ("Nothing In Return", "The Interpreter", "I Have Always Been Here Before" and lots more). I don't know if it's still available. I was surprised how accessible and melodic the songs were and how good his singing is. The live songs at the end of it are completely useless, though.

Patrick, Thursday, 26 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Is "May The Circle Be Unbroken" the tune which I know as being by the Carter Family (and goodness knows how many others... I have a reasonable reggae version of it somewhere)? Or did the 13thFE just cop the title?

Tim, Thursday, 26 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

nah, it's not that song. sounds like it was sort of "inspired" by it tho.

duane, Thursday, 26 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Actually, I think "May the Circle..." is credited to the Carter Family (or Traditional). The Elevators "arranged" it.

Oh, and my BIG problem with the Elevators (which is minor, yes) - electric jug = ANNOYING. TURN IT OFF. NOW. No whoop-whoop-whoop- whoop. TURN IT OFF.

Solo Roky = pretty damn good. The subject matter, however, gets tiresome. I can only take so much 50s B-Movie horror nostalgia. "Creature With the Atom Brain", "I Walked With a Zombie", "Two-Headed Dog" - if only William Castle could've hired him for some soundtrack work. However, the songs themselves (outside of the Ray Harryhausen lyrical fetish) are damn fine rock music, and when Roky stops babbling about creepy crawlies (as on "Starry Eyes"), you're getting the good stuff.

David Raposa, Friday, 27 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

No mention of "Don't Slander Me" yet? What's up with that? Arguably one of the best examples of American garage/psycho-punk out there (esp. the horn arrangements). Though this might just be my own reminiscence of mid-eighties college radio (where I first heard that song).

Tadeusz Suchodolski, Friday, 27 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

"May the Circle.." is supposed to be the same song as "Will the Circle Be Unbroken"? huh? it contains
(a) different lyrics,
(b) different tune.

duane, Friday, 27 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

yeah "Don't Slander Me" is a killer song! i never heard a version with horns tho', are you sure it was him? it sounds to me like you've heard a cover version by someone else.

duane, Friday, 27 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

No, 'twas Roky. I think it might have been either a live version or a remix, but it was definitely Roky.

Tadeusz Suchodolski, Friday, 27 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

It goes without saying, but Roky's the American Syd Barrett. For better or for worse.

Tadeusz Suchodolski, Friday, 27 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

there's a real fine comp of roky covers that came out in 1990..."where the pyramid meets the eye". Lots of interesting stuff on that one. Even the ZedZedTop version of Reverberation is great.

pauls00, Friday, 27 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Tribute albums suck crap.

duane, Friday, 27 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Most tribute albums suck crap. I will admit that. But at least two of them have proved to be of lasting use to me. The first was the 13th Floor Elevators tribute (was it my imagination or was the Spacemen3 version of Rollercoaster on it or not?) and funnily enough, the second was the Spacemen3 tribute album.

With regards to "Circle" - the differences between the traditional song and the Elevators song is what caused me to say "version" rather than "cover".

Kate the Saint, Saturday, 28 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Which alb is 'It's All Over Now Baby Blue' on? 'Cos that's one of the greatest Dylan covers of all time.

Best Elevators cover version - Television doing 'Fire Engine'.

Andrew L, Saturday, 28 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

one year passes...
andrew that's on easter everywhere

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Tuesday, 8 October 2002 18:46 (nineteen years ago) link

anyway i've revived this becuz someone (willem i think) asked me if there were any differences between easter and psychedelic sounds (the first alb).

I said i would buy it and tell him. so i have and i think Kate does a good description of both in this thread and I'd say that if you like Easter than get it. both are similar soundwise (but they had a unique sound and that is what's important) and the songwriting is strong on both.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Tuesday, 8 October 2002 18:50 (nineteen years ago) link

The first two 13th Floor Elevators albums are great, the live albums/boots and "Bull of the Woods" are not very good.

Roky's solo albums are REAL spotty. The compilation "Your Going to Miss Me" is not bad, but the real good album is the one on Trance Syndicate "All That May Do My Rhyme", which has actually has good sound and is put together well, unlike most of those shoddy records.

I also really like that cover of "Baby Blue", his voice fits that song quite well.

earlnash, Tuesday, 8 October 2002 21:32 (nineteen years ago) link

Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye was great, and was my introduction to Roky -- I still love Sister Double Happiness's "Red Temple Prayer" and the Judybats' "She Lives," both of which I found on mp3, since the cassette is long since lost.

Tep (ktepi), Tuesday, 8 October 2002 21:48 (nineteen years ago) link

hey! thanx for remembering that, julio!
i've seen an excellent re-issue on 180g vinyl last week, my hands started itching... but my wallet said no (i recently moved into a new appartment...) but i don't think i'll wait much longer before i buy it anyway...

willem (willem), Wednesday, 16 October 2002 12:47 (nineteen years ago) link

check yer second hand shops willem. the rec might be there on the cheap!

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Wednesday, 16 October 2002 16:50 (nineteen years ago) link

one year passes...
i listened to 'bull of the woods' again at the weekend, probably for the first time in 10 years, as I had written it off except for "may the circle...". Weirdly, I loved it!

the production is really, really lo-fi but the sound of that band! what a feel they had! it's that seemingly lazy and relaxed groove that the early 70s Stones had too. And even the lyrics are great - 'Dear Dr. Doom' , a letter to Bob Dylan, that song about being in a thunderstorm and hearing your name called from an alley..... wow!

Dave Amos, Monday, 10 May 2004 08:15 (eighteen years ago) link

i woz an elevators novice until about 2 weeks ago and holy fuck i am a convert. i love the electric jug!

mullygrubber (gaz), Monday, 10 May 2004 08:26 (eighteen years ago) link

"Bull of the Woods" is fucking great. Stacy Sutherland is one of my favourite guitarists and, in places, the album is uncannily like a Texan Amon Duul II. Not enough Roky vocals and hardly any jug but we can't have everything can we?

Dadaismus (Dada), Monday, 10 May 2004 09:56 (eighteen years ago) link

was stacey sutherland the lead or rhythm player? both are excellent. the bass sounds on that album are occasionally mixed so deep as to be almost king tubby-esque! also, choirs and brass section popping up randomly...

Dave Amos, Monday, 10 May 2004 10:06 (eighteen years ago) link

'tis a great album, I assume Sutherland was the lead player as I believe Roky was banged up the in the asylum, courtesy of the Austin Police Department, when much of it was recorded - hence the lack of his vocals

Dadaismus (Dada), Monday, 10 May 2004 10:08 (eighteen years ago) link

eighteen years pass...

Good short podcast episode by Andrew Hickey.

My Little Red Buchla (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 29 July 2022 15:49 (two weeks ago) link

Which alb is 'It's All Over Now Baby Blue' on? 'Cos that's one of the greatest Dylan covers of all time.
Best Elevators cover version - Television doing 'Fire Engine'.

― Andrew L, Friday, July 27, 2001 8:00 PM (twenty-one years ago) bookmarkflaglink

Still think Vince Gillian dropped the ball and should have used that floor the Breaking Bad finale.

Western® with Bacon Flavor, Friday, 29 July 2022 15:52 (two weeks ago) link

'It's All Over Now Baby Blue'

Wish they'd learned the chords before playing it, though. Every other song on Easter Everywhere is great though.

Halfway there but for you, Saturday, 30 July 2022 01:27 (two weeks ago) link

Fuck learning chords, it's brilliant.

Let's Get Ready to Trimble (Tom D.), Saturday, 30 July 2022 08:05 (two weeks ago) link

^new borad description

My Little Red Buchla (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 30 July 2022 12:20 (two weeks ago) link

Seriously though the fact that they're not sticking slavishly to the original and are kind of winging it is one of things that make it so great. I'm sure Bob would agree!

Let's Get Ready to Trimble (Tom D.), Saturday, 30 July 2022 12:23 (two weeks ago) link

They play the "yonder stands your orphan" chords over nearly the entire song, it's maddening! A waste of a nice, evocative arrangement.

Halfway there but for you, Saturday, 30 July 2022 13:00 (two weeks ago) link

Thanks, good caveat. This is concise, in-depth roadmap, up through early years of thee final flowering:https://michaelcorcoran.substack.com/p/rokys-return-to-the-river-of-golden
from main Roky thread: Roky Erickson

dow, Saturday, 30 July 2022 16:58 (two weeks ago) link

Yeah I've never been bothered by the liberties they take with the chords on "Baby Blue". Anyway the "yonder stands your orphan" bit of the original chord progression (ii IV I, I believe) is my favorite part of it, so I dig that they "zoomed in" on that part.

Anyway I'd just like to mention how amazing "Postures (Leave Your Body Behind)" is. I guess on the album with "Slip Inside This House", "Postures" has to be considered the "other epic" but it's such a soulful, uplifting song about surrendering your mind to the psychedelic void. That whole album is utter perfection imo

J. Sam, Saturday, 30 July 2022 19:46 (two weeks ago) link

Oh yeah, soulfulness could seep in at any tyme, if you held on through tumult---also in some I mentioned on the xpost main Roky thread:

..the relatively mellow songs on 90s collections All That May Do My Rhyme and Never Say Goodbye, and the 2010 True Love Cast Out All Evil, with material spanning 40 years, and, wiki notes, "members of Okkervil River on most songs as Erickson's backing band"
Of this last, Michael Cochran says in piece linked above:
In 2010, Erickson made his first album in a decade and a half, backed by Austin indie-rock darlings Okkervil River. It seemed an odd musical coupling at first- Austin's mystical madman and its articulate Pitchfork band. Erickson’s triumphant return to performing was based on his ability to rock hard on such setlist exclamations as "Don’t Slander Me," "Two-Headed Dog" and "Slip Inside This House," so it was assumed that his comeback album would be one of screeching vocals and big sonic strokes.

But producer Will Sheff, the Okkervil River guide, had a different idea. True Love Cast Out All Evil (Anti Records) was a record of tattered little songs that had practically been abandoned, brought back in a spiritual whirl of dust and hope.

"I obsessively listened to about 60 songs that Roky had written, that were either never recorded or minimally released," Sheff said. Although he's a fan of Erickson's "horror rock" material, Sheff found himself drawn more to the songs of simple grace. "Roky was in a prison for two years and he had to come to terms with the thought that his musical career could be over," said Sheff. Such freshly recorded songs as the title track, the delicately moving "Forever," the haunting "Goodbye Sweet Dreams" and the album's hinge "Please Judge" were the soundtrack to the years when he went from Austin's golden child to its most notorious recluse. “These songs were written to serve the immediate purpose of keeping him sane,” said Sheff. “They're so powerful."

"Roky's one of the greatest rock 'n' roll singers of all time and a completely unique guitar player,” said Sheff, who earned a Grammy nomination for his liner notes. “But I think the way I've most been influenced by working with him is in his lyrics, the way he puts words together in a totally jarring way. He's created his own private vocabulary.”

https://michaelcorcoran.substack.com/p/rokys-return-to-the-river-of-golden
Not everybody dug it, but "a spiritual whirl of dust and hope" sounds right.

dow, Saturday, 30 July 2022 20:50 (two weeks ago) link


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