The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators

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All Music Guide - Mark Deming
Did the 13th Floor Elevators invent psychedelic rock? Aficionados will be debating that point for decades, but if Roky Erickson and his fellow travelers into inner space weren't there first, they were certainly close to the front of the line, and there are few albums from the early stages of the psych movement that sound as distinctively trippy -- and remain as pleasing -- as the group's groundbreaking debut, The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators. In 1966, psychedelia hadn't been around long enough for its clichés to be set in stone, and Psychedelic Sounds thankfully avoids most of them; while the sensuous twists of the melodies and the charming psychobabble of...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
Did the 13th Floor Elevators invent psychedelic rock? Aficionados will be debating that point for decades, but if Roky Erickson and his fellow travelers into inner space weren't there first, they were certainly close to the front of the line, and there are few albums from the early stages of the psych movement that sound as distinctively trippy -- and remain as pleasing -- as the group's groundbreaking debut, The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators. In 1966, psychedelia hadn't been around long enough for its clichés to be set in stone, and Psychedelic Sounds thankfully avoids most of them; while the sensuous twists of the melodies and the charming psychobabble of the lyrics make it sound like these folks were indulging in something stronger than Pearl Beer, at this point the Elevators sounded like a smarter-than-average folk-rock band with a truly uncommon level of intensity. Roky Erickson's vocals are strong and compelling throughout, whether he's wailing like some lysergic James Brown or murmuring quietly, and Stacy Sutherland's guitar leads -- long on melodic invention without a lot of pointless heroics -- are a real treat to hear. And nobody played electric jug quite like Tommy Hall...actually, nobody played it at all besides him, but his oddball noises gave the band a truly unique sonic texture. If you want to argue that psychedelia was as much a frame of mind as a musical style, it's instructive to compare the recording of "You're Gonna Miss Me" by Erickson's earlier band, the Spades, to the version on this album -- the difference is more attitudinal than anything else, but it's enough to make all the difference in the world. The division is even clearer between the Spades' "We Sell Soul" and the rewrite on Psychedelic Sounds, "Don't Fall Down". The 13th Floor Elevators were trailblazers in the psychedelic rock scene, and in time they'd pay a heavy price for exploring the outer edges of musical and psychological possibility, but along the way they left behind a few fine albums, and The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators remains a potent delight.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/27/2008
  • Label: Sundazed Music Inc.
  • UPC: 090771521811
  • Catalog Number: 5218

Album Credits

Performance Credits
The 13th Floor Elevators Primary Artist
Ronnie Leatherman Drums
Benny Thurman Bass, Violin
Stacy Sutherland Guitar
Tommy Hall Jug
John Ike Walton Drums
Technical Credits
Roky Erickson Composer
The 13th Floor Elevators Contributor
Gordon Bynum Producer
Lelan Rogers Producer, Liner Notes
Bob Sullivan Engineer
Stacy Sutherland Producer
John Cleveland Art Direction, Cover Design
Powell St. John Composer
Clementine Hall Composer
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Hyper but healthy. An original.

    Most current music is virtually rubberstamped from yestergroups. Music probably always was. But 35 years ago, The Elevators found their own way with original writing and arrangements hammered out among wildly different personalities. The lyrics came from a psychology and literature major, a complex student of Huxley. The original bass player toyed with beer and, it was rumored, uppers (he fought a losing battle to rush every beat). The original drummer was a brilliant straight arrow with metronomic meter and precise, compelling fills. Lead guitar inserted bubbling filigrees with intuitive appropriateness, vocalist drove beyond mere song potential to almost beyond human capacity. An exhausting band to witness. Absolute rock athletes, dedicated philosophers, epistemological explorers (epistemology asks: how do we know that what we think we know is really true?). Like many pioneers, they made naive career moves and soon blew apart.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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