Wednesday, April 14, 2010

roky erickson: true love casts out all evil

"I have Always Been Here Before".
George Cruikshank illustrates Dickens, Bradbury & Evans, 1846.

Appositely, given the very recent featuring of The Spades' "You're Gonna Miss Me", and mention of 13th Floor Elevators in relation to the Austin influence on Arthur Lee + Love up here on SibLINGSHOT ON THE BLEACHERS, news has broken that Roky Erickson is slated to release his first album in fourteen years.

This coming April 20th; "True Love Casts Out All Evil".

Interpersed with archival recordings dating from his confinement to the Rusk State Hospital for the Criminally Insane between 1969 and 1972, the album introduces previously unheard songs documenting the trauma of enforced medication and incarceration. In a state then governed by the desire to reduce tansgressors to a scarcely believable subhuman level.

Arrested age twenty-one for possession of a single m
arijuana joint and facing a mandatory ten-year prison sentence, Erickson was advised to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

His case was ably supported by a previous - wholly unreliable, in light of his repeated exposure to varying substances - diagnosis of schizophrenia approximately one year earlier, when the teenage Erickson was temporarily sectioned under the care of a psychiatric hospital in Houston, and forced to undergo a regime of electroconvulsive therapy.

What ensued from there is a cautionary tale familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in the underground psychedelic scene spearheaded by International Artists; the Houston based label responsible for distributing both The 13th Floor Elevators and Mayo Thompson's Red Crayola.

The abuses Roky Erickson underwent as a result are well chronicled.

Out of the frying pan and into a crooked concentration camp cauldron merry prankster, Ken Kesey's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" only scratched at.

Where "True Love Casts Out All Evil" differs significantly from previous solo releases is the sheer transparency which Erickson brings to bear in revisiting that bleak period. A prolonged separation which led not just inevitably to the demise of the Elevators, but the collapse of his relationship with first wife, Dana and his young son. Gone are the lurid pulp metaphors which shrouded material recorded with the Aliens and kept his "Two Headed Dog" on a leash.

Procucer, Will Sheff and his Okkervil River admirably aid and abett an entirely lucid Erickson as he navigates territory lesser mortals might fear to tread:

"This is not a cynical comeback record, a lukewarm update on an established legacy – these are the best songs Roky has ever written, unreleased due to decades plagued by the kind of personal tragedies that would destroy someone less resilient. This record has been the most challenging and rewarding, thing I've ever worked on, and we in Okkervil River were deeply honored to show up decades later and help Roky carry these wonderful songs over the finish line."

"True Love Casts Out All Evil" sees its official CD release on Anti-Record before the month is out. Stripped of the Spector pretense and Halloween shtick which plagued good Roky's revival for thirty years, all hyperbole has been exorcised.

For unprecedented access to a redefining document, Roky Erickson premieres "True Love Casts Out All Evil" exclusively at Relix.

Bury "Two Headed Dog". "Think Of As One".

A genuinely courageous undertaking, staves and bars speak louder than words.

THE 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS: DON'T FALL DOWN from "The Psychedelic Sound Of The 13th Floor Elevators" LP (International Artists) 1966 (US)


Holly said...

I love this song. Thank you!

ib said...

You're welcome, Holly. Glad you enjoyed it.

Did you follow the link to Relix to hear the new album ? The opening track is intentionally lo-fi, but much of the material is astoundingly direct and treated accordingly.