First off, I apologize for the lack of posting last week- it was a very busy one for me, and I just couldn't make the time to write. However, today's post should make up for it, as I was planning on spreading this over two weeks anyhow!
I'll spare the biographical details of the legendary Roky Erickson; Roky made an indelible stamp as a very young man as frontman/ vocalist extraordinnaire of The 13th Floor Elevators (easily one of the 10 best American rock n roll groups of ANY era, in my opinion). Roky was busted on a trumped up pot charge in the late 60's, and he was forever changed after a stay at the Rusk Hospital For The Criminally Insane, where the sensitive, poetic Roky was given shock treatment and lived among murderers and rapists. All for enjoying a joint on a hilltop in Texas...(I won't even begin to state the obvious injustice in this charge and its repercussions.)
Roky was granted his freedom in 1972, and a revamped version of the Elevators began taking the clubs of Austin by storm again. Recorded evidence show that the group was fantastic again and they were writing some killer songs that, sadly, never got properly recorded. For whatever reasons, the group fell apart again and by 1975 Roky was in a bad way, financially, and was unable to get booked for any gigs. Fellow Texan Doug Sahm (a legend and genius in his own right) always felt a strong brotherhood with Roky and The Elevators, and through his generosity offered to record and release a solo 45 from Roky (although his last name was unfortunately mis-spelled on the release). Reports of the sessions (from the recording engineer John Ingle) were that Doug wanted, more than anything, to help get Roky some gigs and get him on the right track again. In a cloud of pot smoke, the band recorded two songs that are staples in roky's cache, including one of the freakiest numbers ever cut to tape, "Red Temple Prayer (Two Headed Dog)". In my opinion, this lo-fi, bordering-on-psychotic take is the definitive one. Roky's vocal performance is hair raising (and includes one of his patented "You're Gonna Miss Me" yowls) and the guitar work captures the vibe of the lyrics in a way that was never captured again in future versions of the song. The flip side, "Starry Eyes", is another that Roky has recorded several times, and shows his more tender, Buddy Holly influenced side; roky recorded a beautiful, heartfelt vocal, and the band grooves along in a way that can only be done by Texas musicians.reason, the back cover says this is Roky's first commercial release in ten years. Not true! Why they chose to ignore the Mars Records 45 is anyone's guess. All in all, this was a very important record; released at the dawn of the punk era, it exposed Roky to a whole new audience that could DEFINITELY dig the man and his music. ere's no hint of quasi- heavy metal here! "Starry Eyes" returns, in a charming version that explores the Buddy Holly influence in a big way. This record is a career highlight, and one of the best singles of the 1980's, hands down. BONUS:
Here's the original take of the Elevators 'Tried To Hide', which was the flip side to "You're Gonna Miss Me". This song was recut for the first LP in a slower version; while that version is excellent, I *really* love this faster take that showcases how tight and rocking this band was. Special props to the amazing drumming of John Ike Walton.