Saturday, June 18, 2011

IS IT LIVE OR IS IT.........

"Originally released in 1968 on the International Artists label. This is their 3rd album which is not a live album at all. The tracks were studio outtakes with fake applause added. Along with versions of the band's classics 'You're Gonna Miss Me' and 'Roller Coaster' this album contains 5 songs not included on their previous two studio albums: Bo Diddley's 'Before You Accuse Me', Buddy Holly's 'I'm Gonna Love You Too', Solomon Burke's classic 'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love' and two original compositions ('You Gotta Take That Girl' and 'You Can't Hurt Me Anymore').

While much of the 13th Floor Elevators’ popularity today rests upon their studio albums and 45s, this wasn’t always the case. Especially not in Texas, where the Elevators first became famous as an outstanding live act, with a combination of ferocious drive and dark mystique that was unlike anything seen before. When the Psychedelic Sounds LP was released in late ‘66, some fans in their hometown Austin felt it was missing a bit of the captivating energy they associated with the band. Even Tommy Hall, the band’s lyricist and intellectual nexus, stated in a 1989 interview that “our real show was live”.

Before getting on to the true live recordings, a word about the infamous, fake Live LP on International Artists. This odd concoction was put together by I A producer Fred Carroll in the Summer of ’68, after months of studio sessions with the band had failed to produce anything release-worthy. Pulled together from old outtakes, the Live album is decidedly non-live, despite Carroll’s attempts to create a concert atmosphere via dubbed-in crowd noise. Much venom has been thrown upon this record over the decades, but fake live LPs were common in the ‘60s – much more so than real live recordings – and as far as the actual music goes, it’s a very good album, including a couple of songs unavailable elsewhere. Any fan of the band needs it. ‘Nuff said.

Except for the three core members of vocalist Roky Erickson, guitarist Stacy Sutherland and jug player/lyricist Tommy Hall, the Elevators underwent several line-up changes during their 2.5-year life span. A commonly held opinion back then was that as a live act, none of the later configurations could match the earliest line-up, with bassist Benny Thurman. Thurman, who was a formally schooled violinist but not a “real” bass player, contributed to the strange and exciting aura around the group during the first half of 1966. According to Bill Miller of Cold Sun, who saw the early Elevators several times, “Benny was just as important as Roky” to the band.

At that time, the Elevators’ official recordings were limited to the “You’re Gonna Miss Me” 45 (released January ‘66), and except for some demo tracks, this first line-up was not preserved on any other studio reels. The three live tapes that exist from the Spring ‘66 are thus important documents of the band’s early days, and better yet, they confirm the praise heard from the original fans. The energy level is breath-taking, yet the band finds room to spread their psychedelic message via complex drug songs like “Roller Coaster” and “Fire Engine”.
Previously published in Shindig magazine, 2008


Petty Vendetta said...

Thanks mate- Finally got to see the film of Roky's story. Fantastic to hear him playing again. Heard he's touring with Ockerville River{?}


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