Roky Erickson: The Evil One
LITA 097 (2xLP | CD | Digital) | OUT NOW!
Roky Erickson: Don’t Slander Me
LITA 098 (2xLP | CD | Digital) | OUT NOW!
Roky Erickson: Gremlins Have Pictures
LITA 099 (LP + 7” | CD | Digital) | OUT NOW!
Out now, Roky Erickson’s legendary first three solo albums! As the core member of the texas psych outfit 13th Floor Elevators, the ’60s were thrilling times for Erickson. The group was riding high on their howling single ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ , but the ride was short lived and for Erickson the ‘60s ended in the stuff of nightmares. Under sharp scrutiny by the authorities due to the band’s well-expounded fondness for psychedelic drugs, Erickson was found with a single joint on his person. Pleading not guilty by reason of insanity to avoid prison, he was sent to the Rusk State Hospital for the criminally insane, where he was ‘treated’ with electroconvulsive therapy and Thorazine treatment. Erickson pulled through his three and a half years at Rusk, and even put together a band while incarcerated. That band, The Missing Links, contained Roky plus two murderers and a rapist.
Released from the institution in 1974, Roky found his legend had grown while he’d been away – not least because ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ was included on 1972’s Nuggets compilation. Erickson’s experiences in the hospital proved to be fertile inspiration for his music – on leaving, he formed the group Roky Erickson And The Aliens. Erickson and the Aliens set out honing a hard rock sound that placed the psychedelic garage blues of the Elevators firmly in the last decade.
The first album, 1981’s The Evil One, was recorded at a time when Roky was struggling to cope with drugs and life on the outside. Produced over a period of two years by Stu Cook, from Creedence Clearwater Revival, it’s a masterful collection of songs about zombies, demons, vampires and, yes, even the ‘Creature With The Atom Brain’. These tracks, inspired by schlock sci-fi and horror movies and colored by Roky’s distinctive, high-pitched vocal and squealing guitar, are among the maverick performer’s best.
At the time, Roky explained the album this way: “It’s gonna go back to the ferocious kind of rock ‘n’ roll of the Kinks, the Who and the Yardbirds. It’s the kind of music that makes you wish you were playing it or listening to it for the first time ‘way back when.’” But the record would not reach the mass audience of those bands, its success hampered by erratic release schedules and disastrously awkward press interviews. A year after its release, Erickson would become convinced that a Martian had inhabited his body. He would soon become obsessed with mail, and take to taping it, unopened, to his bedroom walls. Many of Erickson’s demons were yet to show their faces. But the B-movie demons he exorcised on this record gave us one of hard rock’s strangest, most inventive albums.
If The Evil One was the album that broke Erickson out of the indie ghetto and brought him to a worldwide audience, the follow-up, 1986’s Don’t Slander Me was the one that showcased his rock and roll sensibilities like no recording before. Losing the more out-there and exotic elements of earlier and future albums, it presents us with Erickson the rocker, playing punk, rockabilly, blues and – in ‘Burn The Flames’, later found on the Return Of The Living Dead soundtrack –even power ballads. Don’t Slander Me represented the apex of Erickson’s sound, and is regarded as his most cherished work.
Erickson’s third album – arguably his best – was to be found, if not created. Gremlins Have Pictures is an anthology of Erickson’s solo work following his extended incarceration at the Rusk State Hospital for the criminally insane. The collection is of the odds and ends of Erickson’s post-incarceration work, which tells a story of a man finding his musical feet, ranging from Dylan-like folk strumming to the big, Neil Young-like rock of the unparalleled ‘Anthem (I Promise)’. Together the various tracks deftly summarize Roky Erickson’s recording career.
- All albums housed in deluxe gatefold “tip-on” jackets with book-deep liner notes by Joe Nick Patoski
- Vinyl copies include booklet and download card
- Both The Evil One and Don’t Slander Me 2xLPs have etchings by artist Travis Millard on Side D
- CDs includes booklet
- Rare / unseen archive photos and ephemera
- For additional information about exclusive color vinyl visit www.LightInTheAttic.net