The 13th Floor Elevators – The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators (1966)

Some say you can’t judge a book, or an album, by its cover. With this album, you can. A bunch of young men from southern U.S.A. delivered this album way back in 1966 and became cemented in history for this. And what a trip this album is. Let’s dive in and have a listen to it.

You’re Gonna Miss Me begins our musical trip, and it gives us our unique sound for a garage and psychedelic rock band. It features unique screaming from the singer Roky Erickson, which surely metal legends copied later on. It has clanging Fender style guitar sounds, harmonica and an Ostrich like sound gobbling away in the background. Nice.

Roller Coaster is up next and is much more down-tempo until the midsection hits you. But still, it is a pure head-rush of psychedelic music. The lyrics are just hippy nirvana. It has more gobbling too. It’s a great extended piece by the 13th Floor Elevators.

The next place, Splash 1, is a slow-moving ballad style piece. It’s reassuring in its melody, something which many bands can never do. Specific emotional delivery is often ignored by musicians in songs. The 13th Floor Elevators do not ignore this, it’s a great song.

The next cut Reverberation (Doubt) begins with a note being hit on the tremolo system of a Fender Stratocaster, before leaping into a danceable piece with surreal lyrics. It’s a hippy delight.

Don’t Fall Down sounds like a continuation of Splash 1 but still, it has its own personality. Beautiful acoustic guitar lurks away in the background of this song, but the chanted chorus is uplifting indeed.

Fire Engine follows after the previous song, with vocalised sirens done so well indeed. “Let me take you to the empty place on my fire engine.” It’s a real trip this one. And brilliant too, sonically light years away from other bands of the time. Brilliant.

The next cut Thru The Rhythm is a slightly weaker cut. But still, it’s good stuff to listen to. One cannot help but feel a better mix would have helped this song. But still, it’s a good song anyway.

Following up is the melancholy piece You Don’t Know. It’s a better piece than the last one, with absolutely tripped out lyrics. Roky Erickson sings very well here, he was a unique singer in many ways that was underappreciated over the years. Good effort.

Kingdom Of Heaven is the slowest song on this album, but it’s never dull for a moment. “The kingdom of heaven is within.” It’s a really beautiful piece and downtempo to boot.

Monkey Island is a trip galore, as the title suggests. The guitar riffs here are excellent, showing the musical prowess of the band. Roky Erickson’s vocals here are top, singing and screaming perfectly, with a great monkey impersonation at the end. Excellent.

The last cut, Tried To Hide, sounds like a great pop sort of song for the time, with harmonica. It finishes the album nicely, and we can say that we have heard quite possibly the first psychedelic album ever made.

This album has received cult status over the years and has given The 13th Floor Elevators their deserved place in history. So many musicians came out of the woodwork after the release of this album. The cover of the album does not lie about the music, it’s the trippiest thing that was recorded in its release in 1966. Give this a listen if you dig psychedelic music.

8/10

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