10 June 2011

13th Floor Elevators - 1968 - A Love That's Sound

Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5

The third 13th Floor Elevators album, "Bull of the Woods," has always been somewhat of a disappointment. The band had pretty well disintegrated from legal troubles, insanity and various other pressures. With vocalist Roky Erikson and lyricist/electric jug player Tommy Hall pretty much out of commission, guitarist Stacy Sutherland did the best he could and he did manage to pull off a pretty good psych rock album. The problem was that it didn't really deliver as an Elevators album. This collection gives us a much groovier view of what a real third Elevators album could have been. Rocky Erikson sings on all of the tracks that feature vocals, even if a few of them are likely just guide vocals, and the band rocks a lot closer to their signature sound. The monoural sound quality is somewhat muddy, but us longtime Elevator fans should be used to that from years of substandard versions of their first two albums. The electric jug only shows up on one track, but let's face it - the jug was always a bit of a novelty and the band does pretty well without it. Also, we get to lose those damn horn overdubs which marred "Bull of the Woods."

The first six tracks here are first rate, if a bit rough, 13th Floor Elevator rockers and stand up pretty well in comparison to the classics on the first two albums. "It's You" is a fine display of the poppier side of the band with a chorus that will end up stuck in your head forever, while "Livin' On" and "Never Another" serve up a tighter version of the psychedelic guru vibe that the group pursued on "Easter Everywhere." Erickson's version of "May the Circle Be Unbroken" is one of the group's absolute masterpieces, although it does admittedly come across a little better in its stereo version on "Bull of the Woods." Since the first six tracks only clock in at about 22 minutes, the disc is filled out with some instrumental takes called "Sweet Surprise" and "Moon Song." They're relatively dispensable, with the former coming across like a blues based jam and the latter sounding like a rocked up version of "Postures (Leave Your Body Behind)." Still, they're a nice momento of the prime Elevators sound just before it was lost forever.

I typically shy away from recent releases, but I imagine many of you may stay away from this release due the somewhat poor reputation of "Bull of the Woods." Surprisingly, this document of the band is almost as essential as the first two albums. If you have any doubts, note that this is actually the first disc of the set while "Bull of the Woods" is relegated to the second disc. There are some pretty interesting liner notes included as well. Buy it - Roky deserves the royalty checks.

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13th Floor Elevators - 1968 - A Love That's Sound

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.mediafire.com/?z3vabbwnyng6bm3

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I think Bull of the Woods is a fantastic record, so I'm looking forward to this.

ge said...

Original Bull of the Woods is a fantastic record... Dude must we force you to memorize that guy's long rave review at RYM??

PS,
the horn players were just drunk enough and the producer just high enough to fit the sound perfect. Danny's drums are glorious throughout

:)

Dr. Schluss said...

I'm not saying that "Bull of the Woods" is a bad record, just that this one is better and delivers the authentic Elevators sound. But you may never listen to "Bull of the Woods" again after giving this a few listens.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. Don't know if its only me, but. Livin' On Track 4 was corrupt for me.
Geoff

Gus said...

I have to say I disagree with you strongly here. Bull of the Woods is by far my favourite 13th floor elevators album way more interesting and better produced than the other ones and I love the horns.

Anonymous said...

loved the horns doc,always felt B O T W's deserved better recognition.
this looks interesting though.

Druggie said...

Firstly, let me just say that I really enjoy this blog! Long time lurker, first time commenter.

Regardless of whether or not "Bull of the Woods" is a good album, these recent reissues are not exactly lining Roky's pockets. Charly is notorious for screwing over their artists (almost as much as International Artists, the 13th Floor Elevators' original record label), and pretty much everything I've bought from them has been sketchy in one way or another. That said, the online retailer Burning Shed stocks their stuff, and is much less sketchy. If you do buy it, I'd recommend going through them. That said, Charly and Elevators biographer Paul Drummond seem to be as in-it-for-themselves as anyone else who's previously released Elevators material, especially considering that the new vinyl-only box set ("Music of the Spheres") contains a "newly-discovered" track that couldn't be included on any of the other simultaneously-released reissues! Talk about extortionists!

cottageorgan said...

Just finished listening to this. Excellent even if it is a bit short. Rocky's vocals brilliant as ever. I prefer the version of "May The Circle Remain Unbroken" on this album. "Easter Everywhere" is still my favourite...insanely cracked and glistening psych at it's finest...Anthony

RokySyd said...

My review of this disc:
http://www.texaspsychedelicrock.com/2012/01/this-is-review-of-disc-8-from-that.html

Liftplus said...

Thanks! This looks interesting!