Review : Roky Erickson - True Love Cast Out All Evil (ft. Okkervil River)
PitchforkRoky Erickson has been a lot of things in his lengthy career: howling psych-rocker, LSD advocate, spiritual quester, mental hospital patient, drug-war casualty, junk-mail collector, sci-fi aficionado, self-proclaimed alien, cult icon. Before he was any of that, though, he was a Texan. Sources vary on where he was born-- some say Dallas, others Austin-- but he has spent virtually all his life in the Lone Star State. That's crucial, not simply because Texas breeds a particularly prickly form of artist-- from Lightnin' Hopkins to Townes Van Zandt to Eagle Pennell-- but primarily because its artists tend to fiddle around with form and style, throwing together sounds and genres almost haphazardly. So, as a Texas musician, Erickson is by nature a synthesist, and even his earliest recordings with the 13th Floor Elevators exhibit an intuitive mix of blues, rock, psych, country, soul, and prayer. As his career has progressed, he has settled into that station comfortably, so that he now has more in common with Doug Sahm, ZZ Top, and even the Butthole Surfers (who have all worked with him over the decades) than with any of his 1960s psych-rock peers.
So it makes sense that Erickson would partner up with Okkervil River for his first album in 15 years: Even though they've been branded broadly indie and have never been especially identified with their hometown of Austin, the band understands his origins and how they inform and even define his music. Will Sheff culled the dozen songs on True Love Cast Out All Evil from more than 60 that Erickson had written over the last four decades, then fashioned them into a setlist that emphasizes biography and breadth. Okkervil River back him like an especially erudite bar band, which allows them to indulge his every whim and mood and which emphasizes his songwriting range. As a result, the album repositions Erickson's psych rock as the foundation for a diverse sound that spans the Byrdsian riffs on "Bring Back the Past", warped folk of "Ain't Blues Too Sad", and garage-rock bluster of "John Lawman"....full text
LaistRoky Erickson’s new album begins with a field recording, made by his mother during a visit to the Rusk State Maximum Security Prison For The Criminally Insane. He’d been sent there after being arrested for possession of one joint in 1969, and served for three years. What happenned to him during those years profoundly altered the rest of his life, as he battled a raging depression and paranoia that left him only partly functional even at the height of his career. As of a decade ago, it was reported that his condition had deteriorated almost beyond hope of recovery. Ravaged by dementia and a life-threatening dental abscess, he seemed, from the outside, to have been left for dead.
But about nine years ago, his story finally began to lighten up. The intervention of his brother Sumner and son Jegar saved his life and paved the way for a remarkable return to physical and mental health, as well as a return to his music career. The last four years have seen him fit and healthy, performing at a high level of intensity, travelling around the globe for the first time in his life. This album includes the first studio recordings of his revival, along with a couple of snapshots from the past.
One might expect the songs from the Rusk era to possess the same demonic rage found in almost all of his solo work, But instead, Roky sits with the tape recorder rolling in the prison courtyard, one of his buddies from prison band the Missing Links (all of whom, except for Roky, were in jail for various combinations of rape and murder) playing a second guitar beside him. He hesitates for a second, then strums out the gentlest of melodies and delivers a bizarrely poetic devotional....full text
BlogcriticsRoky Erickson left a lasting mark on the American music scene as the vocalist/leader/songwriter of the seminal garage/psychedelic band, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators. While their “You’re Gonna Miss Me” was the closest they would come to a hit song and that would only reach number 55 on The Billboard Magazine Hot 100 Charts in August of 1966, their music would be covered by and influence such groups as ZZ Top, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, R.E.M. plus provided some of the seeds for the seventies punk movement. The group would disband during 1969 after a short and tumultuous career.
Erickson’s life journey during the past four decades has been one of pain, insanity, comebacks, and ultimately redemption. Severe drug use led to his arrest and entering an insanity plea in court. The then 22 year old was sentenced to the Rusk Maximum Security Prison for the criminally insane where he would undergo shock treatment. Upon his release he would initiate several comebacks but would spend a decade secluded away reading junk mail and playing the radio loud so as to drown out the voices.
As the 2000s progressed his health improved due to a regimen of prescription drugs. He reunited with his family and began making appearances in the Austin area. This led to a relationship with Will Sheff and Okkervil River. As a result Sheff was asked to produce an album and was mailed three CD’s of sixty songs written by Erickson during the course of his life. These unreleased tracks were written for The Elevators, while at Rusk Prison, at his mother’s home, and with his prior group The Aliens. Twelve were selected for his first studio album in over a decade....full text
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