Sunday 12 July 2009

Roky Erickson Album Review

Album Review of:-
(Trance Syndicate TR 33, 1995)

For every heavenly spirit, there’s a dark side. And although we now tend to associate narcotic excess with the world of sport, it was once prevalent in Rock ‘n’ Roll too. Roky Erickson, bearded and weirded, with a fringe of lyncanthropic hair around a bigger hole than the one in the ozone layer, is one such who swam too close to an LSD nuclear meltdown. He has the air of a man returned from hell, but remains an intermittent psychedelic itch in a kind of ‘Where’s Wally…?’ game of find the fractured artist in fractured games and fractured songs.

REM contribute to his tribute album ‘Where The Pyramid Meets The Eye’, and Primal Scream do his “Slip Inside This House” (on ‘Screamadelica’), but Roky’s own 13th Floor Elevators were a band prone to quintessential audio molestation, where Roky’s voice could alter the rotation of planets. And despite the total lack of safety options, this latest incarnation is one vinyl picnic that’s seldom a groove short.

“I’m Gonna Free Her” sets the tone, cracked Dylan vocals, creepy Highway 61 organ, while “You Don’t Love Me Yet” contributes a raspy harmonica break that furthers the comparison. Until two takes of the sad, mad and lovely “Starry Eyes” elevates the set clear into its own unique stratosphere. The Indie charting “We Are Never Talking” (‘Melody Maker’ scribe Peter Jennings’ ‘Single Of The Week’) infuses a strange lustre of lyrical oddity – ‘we may trip for miles and miles / and no matter how we travel / we are never walking’, extending into “For You (I’d Do Anything)” with its cock-rhymes and skewed simple sentiments (‘I’m cooked to you so rare…’). “The Haunt” and “Don’t Slander Me” are tracks to bite your face off, lifting it all a few bluesy upbeat notches to where ‘eternity flies on through and through’.
Twisted artist. Twisted games. Twisted songs. Some weird beauty.

‘All That May Do My Rhyme’ is a kind of Roky-Aid. The producers and the label – owned by Butthole Surfing drummer King Coffey, have dipped into their own savings to inflict this album onto the world as a benefit fund-raiser. I’m almost tempted to contribute my reviewer’s fee. Almost.

It helps to be brain-damaged and irresponsible to love this album. Heaven knows I do.

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