Tag Archives: 13th Floor Elevators

Digging Deep – The Roots of Punk/Psychedelia

1 Nov

Are you in a psychedelic mood? Well, if not, let me get you in one. The Deep is a perfect example of an obscure classic rock band, one that has been often overlooked by fans of the protopunk and psychedelic genres of music. The band achieved virtually no success (unlike their Cameo-Parkway label mates Question Mark and the Mysterians who scored big with their 1966 hit “96 Tears”) and are rarely mentioned in today’s discussions about inspirational 60s bands. The Deep is categorically underrated and this is unfair. They only released one album (under the name The Deep) and it is quite possible that The Deep were more of a studio band; they did not tour to support their only release Psychedelic Moods. But that one album should have provided the band with a little more popularity.

The Deep was formed in Philadelphia during the mid-60s. Greenwich Village folk musician Rusty Evans (Marcus Uzilevsky) took on the role of lead guitarist and singer-songwriter. Past him, the identity of the rest of the band members is shrouded in a bit of mystery. We have names, but nothing is confirmed. Actually, folk musician David Bromberg is thought to have played on the debut release, but the tracks which he played on are unknown.

Psychedelic Moods does have one claim to fame. It was released in October of 1966. *Disclaimer* – this next comment is subject to an ongoing debate. The Blues Magoos’ Psychedelic Lollipop was released on November 1 of 1966 and The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators by the 13th Floor Elevators was released later in November. The Deep is thought to be the first band to employ the word psychedelic on an album name. Neat, right? It may or may not be true. Who knows? But it seems plausible. That is not why I think they should have received more attention. Why should they have? Their distinct blend of protopunk and psychedelic music was fuzzy, warm, infectious, and ahead of its time. That’s why.

“Color Dreams” is a great example of an experimental band. You can tell that they are mixing a concoction of psychedelic and garage rock/protopunk. It is tasty. The song’s base is a normal riff and vocal. Layered on this foundation, like moussakka, is a soft portion of strange noises, light piano, and muddled voices. In 1966, this psychedelic experimentation was fresh and exciting. The Deep was one of the first bands to capture this sound.

“Trip #76” is a repetitive piece that plays with a basic, somewhat shrill guitar riff. It reminds me a lot of music that the psychedelic band Love produced around the same time. Drawn-out poetry, repetitive riffs; garage psychedelia at its finest and earliest!

Advertisements

Six Degrees of Your iPod – ZZ Top on the 13th Floor

19 Oct

Oh it’s totally Six Degrees of Your iPod time! If you haven’t seen this game played on the blog before I will explain it briefly. By now you probably own an iPod or other mp3 music playing device. Well, on said device there should be a shuffle option. The point of this game is to shuffle randomly through six songs. Now can you connect the first and the sixth? Occasionally you get a gift (like I have today), but sometimes it is extremely difficult, and there have been times where I have made connections through several other bands. Now do keep in mind one very important part of the game. You do NOT have to connect the specific songs together. If you do, well, you get serious bonus points. That is sometimes actually impossible. But you can trace the artists to each other in fun ways. Let’s play.

1.) “La Grange” by ZZ Top

The little ol’ band from Texas with the exceptionally long beards (except for dummer Frank Beard ironically) released “La Grange” on their 1973 album Tres Hombres. The song is so recognizable because of guitarist Billy Gibbons‘ epic guitar riff. The riff is an absolute classic. You know a riff is good when it is known to mostly everyone who listens to the genre, and the genre is the wide world of rock. “La Grange,” which is about a brother on the outskirts of La Grange, Texas, is a hard-hitting, southern rock staple, and it is always enjoyable to listen to.

2.) “Friend of the Devil” by the Grateful Dead

3.) “Love Reign O’er Me” by The Who

4.) “Freedom (Part 2)” by the Beautiful Girls

5.) “Slow Ride” by Foghat

6.) “You’re Gonna Miss Me” by The 13th Floor Elevators

I have written about the 13th Floor Elevators extensively in the past. This Texas-based psychedelic act was one of the first psychedelic bands to come out of the Texas psychedelic scene, and it also was one of the first psychedelic bands in general. The band featured Rory Erickson and electric jug player Tommy Hall. The music was garage psychedelia, a true inspiration to many psychedelic bands who premiered in the ’67, ’68 and so on.

CONNECTION:

Now comes the fun part of the game. Like I said in the introduction, I was given a gift. Well, the answer is not a wide-known fact, but if you are familiar with ZZ Top guitarist’s Billy Gibbons’ first band, then this will not be difficult. Billy Gibbons, a Texas native himself, was originally in a Texas-based psychedelic band that he founded. It was called the Moving Sidewalks. Texas is a large state, but the psychedelic scene in the mid 60s was small enough that the Moving Sidewalks and the 13th Floor Elevators knew each other. The Moving Sidewalks actually opened for the 13th Floor Elevators at the Love Street Emporium, which was a Houston psychedelic music venue. The concert, though, was ended when Rory Erickson was arrested by police!

Get in the action and play the game yourself. Make sure to comment below with your results!

What is the Best 1960’s Psychedelic Sub-Genre

15 May

Every post I do about psychedelic music must be prefaced by a piece of computer psychedelic artwork. It is a necessity. Over the past couple of weeks, I have put together posts for the section entitled “60’s Psychedelic Experiment – What is 60s Psychedelic Music.” The section has explored numerous types of psychedelic music. Most similarly to Indie music today, Psychedelic music was a fad genre that took on several sub-genres. I say “fad” genre because it is not a main modern music genre like pop, rock or blues. Psychedelic music was a rather obscure genre that took shape because of its temporary popularity.

I love psychedelic music. It is one of the reasons why I first got into listening to true classic rock (rock before 1973 with the exception of a few bands like Boston and Thin Lizzy). The question that I pose in this poll is what is the best type of 1960s psychedelic music. There are more sub-genres than options in the poll below, but since psychedelic music spawns genres within genres (an Inception twist), I’d rather keep it simple. Plus, remember, we are not including sub-genres like Kraut Rock, Art Rock, and Progressive Rock, because besides a few early examples, these sub-genres burgeoned in the 1970s, uncharted territory for this post. Below are a few big sub-genres that contain most psychedelic songs. I will include an example of the genre as well. Happy Voting.

Psychedelic Folk: “Elevator Man” by Kaleidoscope

Psychedelic Garage Rock: “You’re Gonna Miss Me” by 13th Floor Elevators

Psychedelic Soul: “Everyday People” by Sly and the Family Stone

Psychedelic Pop: “Incense and Peppermints” by Strawberry Alarm Clock

Psychedelic Acid Rock: “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix Experience


“You’re Gonna Miss Me” by 13th Floor Elevators – Early Psychedelic Garage Rock

8 Mar

Okocim issued a challenge in his last post. He posed the broad question, what is the 60’s psychedelic music? As a single question, I believe it is impossible to answer. The genre expanded into many sub-sections and there is not one sole example of 60’s psychedelic music that I can give to him and say this is your answer. The sub-sections make 60’s psychedelic music unique. Because, in itself, psychedelic cannot be a genre. Psychedelic becomes a genre when it pairs with a type of music (like rock or pop). Therefore, the music is always perpetuating more sub genres because in order to survive it needs to. Following my thinking?

This is why I find psychedelic music (specifically of the 60s variety) to be so intriguing. Psychedelic, in itself, can be esoteric and abstruse. In order to make rock or pop psychedelic, a musician needs to add an oddness to the melodic structure, thereby expanding the listeners mind. Yes, a lot has to do with drugs, but a perfectly sober listener (like myself) can get just as much out of it. The music itself is a drug.

I could not turn down Okocim’s challenge though. I proposed in my comment to him a new sub-section of “Journey To The Center of the Mind” called “The 60’s Psychedelic Experiment.” Damn, this post already sounds like “Inception,” a section inside a genre inside a section. That is what psychedelic music is, in a way. It delves deep into music’s structure, like a genetic mutation, and morphs it into something different (either slightly or tremendously).

I am going to answer Okocim’s question of what is 60’s psychedelic music by exploring different songs by different artists over the course of several weeks, answering the question of what makes it “psychedelic” and what specific genre it finds itself swimming in. We begin with one of the aboriginal psychedelic bands, hailing from Texas (starting in 1965), the 13th Floor Elevators.

At the beginning of the psychedelic rock revolution, the psychedelic garage rock component was strong. Garage rock is generally raw and easily tourable. It needs no special studio effects and is solid the way it is. This made it an easy for psychedelic music to manipulate. It was not the first of its kind, this still being reserved for psychedelic folk that came on the scene 1-2 years earlier. But, it is the first example of psychedelic rock. The Cream and the Beatles would explore psychedelic attributes in their music at around the same time, but of the limited examples of 1965-66 psychedelic music, “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” the 13th Floor Elevators 1966 single, is the best example of early psychedelic garage rock (a sub-section of a sub-section).

Now when I say garage rock, I am talking about the genre that formed in the late 50s, but really blossomed in 1963. Think of “Louie, Louie” by the Kingsmen. It is that ol’fashioned rock. That’s why many consider garage rock to be the distant ancestor of punk, because of its chordal simplicity.

13th Floor Elevators came on the scene two years after garage rock’s blossoming and they transformed the genre with a psychedelic component.

The question posed by Okocim is basically what makes this (and any other song during the time period) 60’s psychedelic and how did it help form the term “60’s psychedelic music” which is just way to large to ever conquer.

Well, the first four chords sounds like a variation of the Yardbirds “For Your Love” which was released a year earlier. The guitar is amplified with a little reverb and a slight echo. Their bluesy sound is original. Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top cites the guitar work as inspirational.

At around 6 seconds, you hear this muffled noise in the background of Roky Erickson and Stacy Sutherland Gibson guitars. That is an electric jug of Tommy Hall. Hall created vocalized sound with the jug that gave each song an underground stutter. This is paired with Erickson’s powerful voice (with bluesy screams).

Hall also inspired band members to record and perform music while on LSD, which was unique during the time.

The best psychedelic rock example occurs at the breakdown at 1:30. Listen to the combination of time. The electric jug competes with the drums while the voices sing “I’m Not Coming Home.” This takes in the psychedelic effect. The jug combined with the reverbed guitars do this. It is garage psychedelic because it is simple, but, it is different from typical garage rock examples because it adds different elements that make the music more acid-inspired and art-based.

%d bloggers like this: