The 13th Floor Elevators
Listen – Livin’ On – MP3
I haven’t heard from anyone about the London Knights track yet, so if you haven’t; give it a listen because it’s a really great bit of folk rock.
Today’s selection is a later, rarely heard cut by one of my favorite bands of all time, that being the 13th Floor Elevators.
If you are unfamiliar with Roky Erickson’s merry band of acid soaked Texan’s, then you should open up another browser, head on over to Amazon (or wherever) and grab all three of their studio albums, as they contain some of the finest and most original psychedelic music created in America in the 1960’s.
If you know the Elevators, and don’t have their third album ‘Bull of the Woods’ because you heard it isn’t worth picking up, I’m here to inform you that you have been misled terribly and you need to get yourself a copy post haste.
For a general history and critical overview I will refer you to a piece I wrote about the band back in the embryonic days of the Funky16Corners blog (before its focus was turned on funk and soul).
Some folks will steer you away from Bull of the Woods because it represents the twilight of the band, both actual and (some say) artistic. This is generally attributed to the fact that it reflects the fading of the bands brightest star, the legendary Roky Erickson.
Like many of their Texan rock brethren, the Elevators had experienced their share of drug-related legal hassles, and Roky’s own personal travails included what appeared to be the beginning of a psychological fragmentation.
I often like Bull of the Woods to Pink Floyd’s ‘Saucerful of Secrets’, in that it includes only a relatively small contribution from their guiding genius (in their case Syd Barrett), yet stylistically is a fairly pure continuation of their finest early work. For Pink Floyd that would be their early 45s and ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn’, for the Elevators their first two LPs’ ‘Psychedelic Sounds’ and the monumental ‘Easter Everywhere’.
Erickson only appears on four tracks of ‘Bull of the Woods’ (though one of those is one of the deepest tracks the band ever recorded ‘May the Circle Remain Unbroken’), but as I said before, his fingerprints are all over the album.
In saying this I don’t wish to downplay (further) the contributions of Tommy Hall (jug) and Stacy Sutherland (guitar, vocals) , both of whom wrote (and performed on) many of the Elevators best songs.
However, it is nigh but impossible to discuss the band’s music without using Erickson as a touchstone of sorts.
The track we feature today, ‘Livin’ On’ is one of the ‘Bull of the Woods’ tracks that feature’s Erickson, and is a great example of the Elevators ability to rock, and transmit lysergic emanation simultaneously, something that many of their contemporaries were unable (or loathe) to do.
No matter how you slice it, it’s a solid record, and ought to be enough to get the curious among you pointed toward that last album.
Until we meet again…