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13th Floor Elevators - Psychedelic Circus

  by Jon Rogers

published: 13 / 9 / 2009

13th Floor Elevators - Psychedelic Circus
Label: Retroworld
Format: CD


Impressive and energetic collection of early live recordings from psychedelic pioneers the 13th Floor Elevators

The term legendary nowadays often gets used as a synonym for mythological. With the Sex Pistols gig at the 100 Club the myth of what actually happened far outweighs what musicologists and historians have actually discovered went on. The same applies to those 60's pioneers 13th Floor Elevators, lead by one Rocky Erickson. Fact and fiction merge together into some mythological beast. In the case of the band tales of vast drug consumption abound with Erickson coming out rather frazzled the other side. But the important thing to focus on is not the tales of a druggy lifestyle but what the band actually achieved musically. The 13th Floor Elevators are generally considered to be the first “psychedelic” band, admittedly in a large part due to the psychedelic drugs they were taking. But their music was ground-breaking and going on to influence a whole new musical generation with the likes of Spacemen 3 and Primal Scream. But in this modern age of studio trickery and modern technology where the slightest imperfection be overdubbed and polished is this Texan band now nothing more than a relic or a historical curiosity best left for the archive? If anything the live recordings that make up 'Psychedelic Circus' show that the Texan band have more life and energy in them than many of the current crop of cool kids with guitars. The fifteen songs, culled from the band’s early live tapes from 1966 to 1967 see them fire through some of their best known songs like 'Roller Coaster', 'Fire Engine' and their one and only hit 'You’re Gonna Miss M'e as well as a whole load of covers like 'The Word', 'I’m Gonna Miss You Too' and Bo Diddley’s 'Before You Accuse Me'. Okay, some of the tracks have been cleaned up a little bit too much and so a little sweat and atmosphere has been sacrificed for clarity, but this live collection showcases the band on lively form as it builds on the basic garage sound built up by the likes of the Kingsmen and the Sonics drawing inspiration from the Blues and then taking it off into (then) a strange, new direction. For anyone just curious you can’t do much worse than check out the album’s closing ''Levitation', which would eventually appear on the band’s second album Easter Everywhere, over a rudimentary rock ‘n’ roll beat the guitars shimmy away all svelte and lean before it all comes to a stuttering close. Sums up the band, really.

Track Listing:-
1 Roller Coaster
2 You're Gonna Miss Me
3 Splash 1
4 Tried To Hide
5 Don't Fall Down
6 The Word
7 I'm Gonna Love You Too
8 You Don't Know
9 Everybody Needs Somebody To Love
10 Monkey Island
11 Kingdom Of Heaven
12 Fire Engine
13 Before You Accuse Me
14 She Lives In A Time Of Her Own
15 I've Got Levitation

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