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THE PIONEERS OF PSYCHEDELIC SOUND BY PAUL DRUMMOND

 

 
Eye Mind: The Saga Of Roky Erickson And The 13th Floor Elevators, The Pioneers Of Psychedelic Sound by Paul Drummond (Process Paperbacks)
ISBN: 978-0-9760822-6-2
 

 

 
 
 
 

 
The 13th Floor Elevators remain the template for all serious purveyors of esoteric psychedelia some 40-odd years after their implosion. Their erstwhile talisman and lead vocalist, Roky Erickson, has maintained his pole position as the cult aficionados cult hero throughout the ensuing decades, and its not beyond the realms of exaggeration to claim: no 13th Floor Elevators; no alternative rock! If you find that nugget hard to swallow, just ask R.E.M. if anyones made a mint off of the back of Roky, Stacey (RIP), Tommy, and them good old boys, its those dudes from Athens, Georgia!
Eye Mind, then, is Paul Drummond redressing the balance with the mother of all rock and roll tomes. At 423-pages, and with a foreword by the irascible Julian Cope, this indispensable volume expands the storyboard of recent Roky bio-pic, Youre Going To Miss Me (Palm), with detail upon detail. Depending on who you believe, this labour of love took Drummond anything between seven and eleven years to complete, stacking up the air-miles and a sizeable carbon footprint commuting betwixt Texas and the UK in the process.
The story of the 13th Floor Elevators puts the exploits of many later hell-raisers firmly in the shade. Formed back in 1965 when LSD was still legal in the USA, the Elevators spent their entire working life as the number one Public Enemy of the forces of Texan law enforcement. Some go so far as to claim that the groups entire existence was carried out under police observation. With their outlaw stance and their prodigious appetite for mind-altering substances, the Elevators, and in particular, Erickson, were never quite sure who was watching them. The paranoia induced by this kind of attention became the very fuel that fired the groups ever decreasing circles of existence.
Part-thriller, part-historical-investigation, part-holy-text (Cope), Eye Mind shines a torch back into the gloom of the mid-60s to illuminate a hitherto undocumented era of innovation and excess. Leaving no mossy headstone unturned, Drummond methodically pieces together these fables of the reconstruction with the type of precision normally afforded to authors of true crime.
To the straights they were regarded as freaks. To the hippies they were regarded as punks. Their short (by comparison) hair and dark clothing marked them out from the common or garden beatnik as something altogether more threatening. With their conceptual advisor and jug-blowing lyricist, Tommy Hall, imploring them to play the acid, the Elevators live schedule was often constructed around their lysergic ingestion patterns: the group would play up to 3-gigs a trip to maximise the longevity of said LSD experience, and take it to its logical conclusion every time! Habitual LSD usage, however, does have its Achilles heel, and a supporting cast of heroin, alcohol and other destabilising substances soon took their toll on the Elevators and their entourage, complicating an already convoluted scene beyond the pale.
Despite the initial success of the groups debut 45, Youre Gonna Miss Me, commercial nirvana proved impossible to find. The Elevators were on the back foot almost from the get-go, doomed to failure with regard to replicating the sales graph of that opening vinyl statement. Eventually it took the groups inclusion on Lenny Kayes seminal Nuggets collection almost a decade later to alert the burgeoning proto-punk community to the genius of the Elevators, allowing Patti Smith et all to claim direct lineage, much as Led Zeppelin had done back in 1969.
The connection between the psychedelic sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators and punk rock cannot be understated: just one listen to Sundazeds recent return to mono vinyl edition of the Elevators startling debut long player, The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators, proves beyond doubt that what surfaced around 1975/76 had its roots firmly planted a decade earlier than most punk rock historians would care to admit, but then again, conventional history tells us that Khufu built the Great Pyramid, that the Sphinx is post-diluvian, and that Stonehenge was constructed some time around 3500 BC.
If you dont already own every recorded moment the Elevators committed to tape for posterity, then Id advise you to invest forthwith: their debut long player, and its successor, Easter Everywhere, are both copper-bottomed genre classics with massive spiritual hearts beating at their spindle holes. A patchy Live LP, including dubbed-on audience applause taken from a boxing match added to early demos (a good example of some of the sharper practices employed by the Elevators record label, International Artists), and the Sutherland-controlled Bull Of The Woods complete the set. Having the music to hand (ear?) as you plough your way through the results of Drummonds extensive labours is tantamount to understanding the Elevators per se. Meanwhile, Drummond himself has been hard at work compiling the forthcoming 10-CD Elevators box-set, All And Everything (Charly), due later this year. Elevator, going up!
With Roky now rehabilitated and playing out once more, thanks to the concerted efforts of heroic brother, Sumner Erickson, weve come full (unbroken) circle. These days, Mr Erickson is the proud owner of a set of new teeth, courtesy of Henry Rollins, hard at work on a new studio LP, with a little help from Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), and hardly ever sits at home alone listening to 43-different radio stations and 27-TV channels all at the same time!
 
Dust from your skin
Must trust, when it scatters
Only love matters
It's been overjoyed
Scents and perfumes
Whence, since your higher fragrance
Is memory
Incense and never destroy
Every stop we've taken
Is now a wonderous shrine
Where nature is in order
Your sense is sensing mine
As I love you
All the creatures play
As I love you
Now it's safe to say
There's no hang up in our way
The trees in our gaze
will show us the love that we breath in
This shouldn't amaze
They openly love all they are
And love's all they are
Gifts, to begin
Bliss, cliffs of expression
They suit our impression
and every whim.
Taste has got thirst
Faced, waste
Beyond uses,
with so many juices
Were filled to the brim
Our pleasure's not forsaken
we cultivate our bend
More chances re-awaken when beginning meets the end
As I love you,
Now it's safe to say
There's no hang up in our way
As I love you
The faith that we build
Will strengthen our close growing closer
Till waiting is filled
We simply remember we are,
where ever we are.
Clay that we print
May stay as we mold it
but will never hold it
The promise is long
Till we're complete
Will, still is intention
We still need attention to help us along - Dust
 
 
Jean Encoule 2008: wastebin@trakMARX.com
 
Bedoin tribes ascending
From the egg into the flower,
Alpha information sending
State within the heaven shower
From disciples the unending
Subtleties of river power
They slip inside this house as they pass by
If your limbs begin dissolving
In the water that you tread
All surroundings are evolving
In the stream that clears your head
Find yourself a caravan
Like Noah must have led
And slip inside this house as you pass by.
Slip inside this house as you pass by.
True conception, knowing why
Brings even more than meets the eye
Slip inside this house as you pass by.
In this dark we call creation
We can be and feel and know
From an effort, comfort station
That's surviving on the go
There's infinite survival in
The high baptismal glow.
Slip inside this house as you pass by.
There is no season when you are grown
You are always risen from the seeds you've sown
There is no reason to rise alone
Other stories given have sages of their own.
Live where your heart can be given
And your life starts to unfold
In the forms you envision
In this dream that's ages old
On the river layer is the only sayer
You receive all you can hold
Like you've been told.
Every day's another dawning
Give the morning winds a chance
Always catch your thunder yawning
Lift your mind into the dance
Sweep the shadows from your awning
Shrink the fourfold circumstance
That lies outside this house don't pass it by.
Higher worlds that you uncover
Light the path you want to roam
You compare there and discover
You won't need a shell of foam
Twice born gypsies care and keep
The nowhere of their former home
They slip inside this house as they pass by.
Slip inside this house as you pass by.
You think you can't, you wish you could
I know you can, I wish you would
Slip inside this house as you pass by.
Four and twenty birds of Maya
Baked into an atom you
Polarized into existence
Magnet heart from red to blue
To such extent the realm of dark
Within the picture it seems true
But slip inside this house and then decide.
All your lightning waits inside you
Travel it along your spine
Seven stars receive your visit
Seven seals remain divine
Seven churches filled with spirit,
Treasure from the angels' mine
Slip inside this house as you pass by.
Slip inside this house as you pass by.
The space you make has your own laws
No longer human gods are cause
The centre of this house will never die.
There is no season when you are grown
You are always risen from the seeds you've sown
There is no reason to rise alone
Other stories given have sages of their own.
Draw from the well of unchanging
Its union nourishes on
In the right re-arranging
Till the last confusion is gone
Water-brothers trust in the ultimust
Of the always singing song they pass along.
One-eyed men aren't really reigning
They just march in place until
Two-eyed men with mystery training
Finally feel the power fill
Three-eyed men are not complaining.
They can yo-yo where they will
They slip inside this house as they pass by.
Don't pass it by. -Slip Inside This House