Roky Erickson is one of those characters that you can’t help but fall into if you have even a passing interest in psychedelic and garage rock. I don’t remember where my first exposure was, but it was probably on one of Henry Rollins’s radio shows. I followed up on his incredible story, checked out his solo debut The Evil One and eventually moved my way back to his groundbreaking first band, the 13th Floor Elevators. A quick instagram reel from my local record shop showed they had gotten the new reissues of the band’s first two albums. I missed on the debut but nabbed the deluxe edition of their masterful second album Easter Everyday, with new remastered mono and stereo versions.
The mono mix is wonderful – deep and bass heavy, with Tommy Hall’s jug (yeah, Tommy Hall in addition to being one of the main songwriters with Erickson plays electric jug) resonant and more up front in the mix. That being said, the new master of the stereo mix is no slouch, with opener “Sip Inside This House” sounding fantastic. Erickson’s voice has a snarl and wink that meshes with his more soulful moments, and as the guitars ring next to Hall’s psychedelic jug work it might be the pinnacle of the band’s output. There’s a lightness to “Slide Machine” where the soundstage brings this sense of roundness missing from the more direct and throbbing of the mono mix. Each bring their own interesting elements, and it’s an instance where I don’t know that I have a preference – maybe the perfect version of Easter Everywhere is a combination of the two?
Going from “She Lives (In A Time Of Her Own)” to “Nobody to Love” you get little more attack from the guitars, both Erickson and Stacy Sutherland laying sweet Eastern vibe licks everything. Thinking back to the woman-focused lyrics of Sir Lord Baltimore, listening to Erickson tackle similar subject matter – the man could write a lyrics like no one else:
Her love whips hard like wind and stars in eager pain She wins your thoughts and drives your inner planes She clears and shares a love that never drains She lives in a time of her own...
Sutherland takes the reins from both a songwriting and lead vocal perspective on “Nobody to Love” and he was no slouch either:
From her eyes there quaked a smile Cascading to the shore And then her words like golden birds Flew above the thunders roar And then her voice was echoing Through the night no more And I remember all her words And all our dreams before
The other standout is the band’s hazy, drifting cover of Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” which can’t help but emphasize and accentuate the psychedelic elements (simply because the song is so familiar in its original form) and for how a singer like Erickson can instill a completely different feel to Dylan’s lyrics.
Side 2 of Easter Everywhere might not be as roaring as Side 1, but that’s only because it simply mirrors instead of builds upon the first half. “Earthquake” is another driving psych garage rocker, and “Dust” settles things down for a pretty if fairly generic ballad. But things pick back up again with “Levitation” which might boast the most fun chorus on the album. As the album wraps with the dream-like “I Had to Tell You” and the wandering psychedelia of “Postures (Leave Your Body Behind)” I’m left marveling at how in 1967 Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators forecast so much of the sonics and groove people like Jimi Hendrix and others would mold into their own signature sounds. Easter Everywhere, no matter whether you experience it in mono or stereo, is a grand time with more than enough musical ideas to keep your psyche stimulated and searching for the next purple horizon.