#20: The 13th Floor Elevators – The Psychedelic Sounds Of
- Released in 1966
- Genre: Psychedelic Rock
- You’re Gonna Miss Me
- Roller Coaster
- Splash 1
- Reverbaration (Doubt)
- Don’t Fall Down
- Fire Engine
- Thru The Rythm
- You Don’t Know
- Kingdom Of Heaven
- Monkey Island
- Tried To Hide
Remember the mid-60s when a rock music fan simply had to choose between the Beatles and Mr Presley?
The 13th Floor Elevator’s debut album hit the stores in 1966 and that means this whacky and LSD-driven band was already part of the game before the progressive explosion in 1967 with the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper. Pink Floyd’s Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and Velvet Underground’s debut album.
So, before ‘67 every rock band (that tried to have success) played the same old song over and over again. To be fair, everyone played it their own way but it never changed.
And then along came The 13th Floor Elevators which also adapted the same old song but fucked it really, really hard.
Of course (and I suppose that was necessary to get the recording deal) they had their minor hit (You’re Gonna Miss Me) to sell their single but most of the album is such a druggy and trippy mash of the 60s pop music that some religious critics turned down the album in being evil-spirited.
Now these days one can only smile reading this but then again Johnny Depp claims The 13th Floor Elevators to be his favourite band which invented it all.
Maybe not all.
But they did a great job in shocking their conservative audience and adding an essential album to the canon of rock music which, though being trapped in it’s own zeitgeist, still stand’s up well.
The album kicks in with their hit single You’re Gonna Miss Me which is an OK 60s pop tune but nothing special, the real album starts after that one anyway.
And then, oh my gosh.
One of the most creative explosions I have ever heard, this is one heavyweight 5-minute trip that even seems to anticipate what Sonic Youth is trying to create over 10 years (!) later.
To calm their audience they put their chilling ballad Splash 1 after that which also is a winner in it’s fragile beauty.
After two minor mid-tempo numbers the a-side ends and the listener, unable to turn the record yet, is still trapped in the fields of Roller Coaster and Splash 1 which will last in the head for a long time.
The b-side starts with the hi-speed Fire Engine Dream which makes The Beatles’ Back In The USSR look like an unimpressing exercise and is followed straight by two more fasteners.
Kingdom Of Heaven afterwards is going to show the most drug-driven side of the band and once again we will fall into hypnosis while the album enters Monkey Island, another groovy gem.
Unfortunately the album ends with the hit singles b-side Tried To Hide which is not that impressing at all.
But the good tunes surly outbalance.
Kingodm Of Heaven:
First of all, being that old The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators is one of my definite vinyl picks.
You have to listen to the monaural LP if you really wanna experience it.
Of course, the ravages of time have left their traces on this one but it’s the sheer outbreak of joy, creativity, grove (and drugs of course) that still helps today’s listener to get into a better mood and enter different and more peaceful world.
The album contains something that most of these days band’s completely seem to have forgotten about: The joy of being alive, of being able to create something. Peace.
The price The 13th Floor Elevators paid was high and after the release of album number three some of them were arrested for possessing drugs, so they were forced to split in 1969.
Personally, I can’t really remember anymore when I stumbled over this record but I instantly fell in love with it on first listen.
As you might have guessed, my personal favourite track is the song Roller Coaster which is both: challenging and innovative.
It is an album I do not connect a certain memory with but many stitches in time (lolololololol) featuring good and uncomfortable things like lying on the grass and staring at sun after having finished my Abitur (German A-levels), waking up any morning and the separation from a girl which I thought that I could keep a bit longer.
Other candidates by the artist: