Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Ten Best Albums of 1966

Number 6

The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators – The 13th Floor Elevators

Released on October 17, 1966

Side One:

1. You’re Gonna Miss Me
2. Roller Coaster
3. Splash 1
4. Reverberation (Doubt)
5. Don’t Fall Down

Side Two:

1. Fire Engine
2. Thru the Rhythm
3. You Don’t Know (How Young You Are)
4. Kingdom of Heaven
5. Monkey Island
6. Tried to Hide

Was this the creation of psychedelia? There are three albums that came out in late 1966 with the word “psychedelic” in the title; The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, Psychedelic Lollipop by The Blues Magoos, and the very obscure Psychedelic Moods by The Deep. Since hardly anyone has ever heard of The Deep, the contest for progenitor of the psychedelic genre is between the Magoos and the Elevators, even though they are very different sounding bands. While the Magoos played what sounded like a natural evolution from the British neo-blues bands with their epic guitar runs and three-part harmonizing, nobody sounded like the Elevators. I certainly can’t think of any other band that featured electric jug playing. Tommy Hall played that electric jug, was the primary lyricist, and part architect of the band’s sound and philosophy. Stacy Sutherland played intense guitar in a style that would become ubiquitous for the remainder of the decade. The final pieces of that Elevators’ sound were the wailing vocals and beautiful melodies of the amazing Roky Erickson.

“You’re Gonna Miss Me” and “Fire Engine” have already made my best song list, but there are several other great tracks on the album. Every psych album of the era must have at least one ode to lysergic acid and “Roller Coaster” is a fine example. “Splash 1” is a moving ballad about encountering one’s soulmate. “Reverberation (Doubt)” is a great chugging blues number that inspired varied cover versions from ZZ Top and The Jesus & Mary Chain. I just plain love “Monkey Island”, a fantastic riff on the pressure to conform. While the album wasn’t a huge hit, it did well regionally and inspired many of those who heard it to form bands of their own. People can say what they will about San Francisco being the home of psychedelia, but it was born in Austin, Texas.

Comments and opinions are encouraged and appreciated.

Thank you for your interest.

1 comment:

iang_108 said...

this album kicks so much ass! Roky Erickson really epitomizes what it means to have a cool voice.