Many years ago I had a track by Roky Erickson and the Aliens called Bermuda and for reasons I am not particularly clear about, I was singing that song the other day which lead me to buy this album. Not that Bermuda is on it (could not find anything sensiblly priced with it on sadly) but I recognised the titles of some other tracks and thought what the heck. Good decision - this is an excellent album jam packed with little nuggets that should find a home in anyone who was a fan of his previous band - the 13th Floor Elevators. Personal favourites of mine are *stand by the fire demon" and "white faces" but the kids are relly into "two headed dog" (well it makes a change from whopam gangam style thank ******) I guess what really surprised me was how commercial sounding this album was - and thats no bad thing. Rock fans will like this and if you're thinking about dipping your toe into the music of Roky Erickson this would be a good place to start.
After listening 2-3 times I was completely hooked.
I already knew quite a few of the songs on the album as these were covered by bands like The Hellacopters, Gluecifer and (a bit differently) The Devil's Blood. And if you like Monster Magnet (and The Hellacopters) the sound of this album will feel familiar. Very catchy yet raw. I was surprised to hear syntesizers on the album, being used in a way that reminds me of darker Duran Duran songs like Save a Prayer, Night Boat etc (just listen to Night of the Vampires!). Must be the timing -it was recorded in the same year... The synthesizers are used in a few songs only and never 'take over' -this is definitely a guitar oriented, garage-like rock album. It's timeless and the hooks are amazing -guaranteed to stay in your head forever.
Although I only bought it more than 30 years after its release, this is a true classic!
In 1965 Roky Erickson founded the Psychedelic Rock Band the The 13th Floor Elevators (Janis Joplin was in the band for a short while). They were the first band to describe themselves as Psychedelic and released their first album in 1966. They were to release 3 studio albums and 1 live albums over the next five years.
They heavily used LSD and marijuana and in 1969 Roky was arrested on drugs charges and was found in possession of 1 marijuana joint. However, due to the bands reputation Roky was facing a 10 year sentence. Instead he pleaded insanity and over the next 3 years spent time in mental institutions. In 1974 he formed a new band who later became Rocky Erickson and the Aliens.
Originally released in the UK as the album Five Symbols in 1980 and then in the US as The Evil One in 1981 (with some songs replaced).The tracks are all horror related and the original album carried a sticker “warning some may find the material disturbing.”
This is far better than Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson with tracks like “I Walked With A Zombie” and “Two Headed Dog”. This is one rock album everyone should have in their collection and is my album of the year for 1980.
I bought the original album when it first came out after reading a review in Sounds. My mates thought I was insane. What do they know? This is an absolute classic & I've been trying to replace it since I lent it out & never got it back. But the prices some of the sellers were asking were a bit steep to say the least. Thanks to Mojo for re-releasing this classic album at a decent price.
My great friend, fanzine writer, and music journalist and now sadly deceased, John Platt, very generously gave me a white label copy of this album before it was released in 1980. John met Erickson for an interview for his fanzine Comstock Lode when Erickson travelled to the UK for a promotional visit to promote this album. Roky was terribly jet lagged aswell as being a little "out there" for reasons explained elsewhere, and his answers to John and Nick Kent [ from the NME ] were hardly coherant - adding to the rumours already circulating about his sanity. John was entrusted to cataloging Ericksons songs at the time [ he, Roky, had built up a considerable list of songs such as "Chop Away Lizzy" [ a song about Lizzy Borden ] and the fabulously titled "I Love to Hear The Sound of a Severed Head Bouncing Downstairs" amongst others.] Sadly many of those songs remain unreleased due to Ericksons disorganised nature and to CBS dropping Erickson after the dismal commercial failure of this album, sadly. However some of the recorded stuff for the aborted 2nd album was eventually released as "Don't Slander Me" on Pink Dust records.
Back to this album. I always felt, at the time, it could have been much more raw sounding. However I think CBS, realizing what the tapes sounded like pre - production, asked Stu Cook [ Creedence bass player ] to tone it down a little - making it sound muted, when it should have roared - like the preceding single "Bermuda" on Virgin. It was still really good - the songs and the band playing fab...surely the best band Roky has ever had, including the great Duane "Bird" Aslaksen on lead guitar [ who, incidently now plays in Powell St Johns band - the guy who wrote "Monkey Island" and "The Slide Machine" for the Elevators ] I just hope this Mojo release has beefed up the sound a lot, cos this album rocks..big time!