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13th Floor Elevators – Live Evolution Lost (2014) review

November 20, 2014

13th Floor Elevators – Live Evolution Lost (2014) review

13th Floor Elevators “Live Evolution Lost” (International Artists / Charly 3 LP box)
Let’s talk about the presentation first as it’s not every
day that such a lavish box of colourfully presented psychedelic and mystic
grooviness makes itself physically known. The cover itself is like one of these
magnetic tape reel boxes as used by recording studios, and here they’ve stuffed
it full of goodness: a giant reproduction poster of the Houston Music Theater
gig from whence the actual audio tracks on the grooves originate, a cool photo
and memorabilia-packed book with yet another essay lovingly put together by ace
chronicler Paul Drummond, and a tasty trio of individually wrapped coloured
vinyl records: pressed up in red, green and blue.
Actually, however , there are only five sides of music come
to think of it as the sixth side – on the red vinyl – is like an etched out
affair embossed with one of the images from the poster; the hand with captions
etc… Some, or most of these sounds are already known to many long-term fans
of the Elevators; a few were also included on the super-surreal “Sign Of The
Three-Eyed Men” CD, and later vinyl, box sets. The actual concert itself
took place on 18th February 1967 and would mark the end of an era for the
original Elevators line up of John Ike Walton, drums, Bennie Thurman, bass,
Tommy Hall, electric jug and backing vocals, Stacy Sutherland, lead guitar and
Roky Erickson, rhythm guitar and lead vocals. On this particular occasion too
they were also joined by the Conqueroo – and, collectively, are the owners of
some pretty long jam-outs that are peppered throughout. These in particular are
not gonna be everyone’s cup of tea that’s for sure but, regardless, I’d still
say that most of the selections are – at least some of the time anyway – shot
thru’ with enough of that spunky spirit and loose hypno-groove wail the
Elevators so expertly captured, so as to save them from being all too plain, or
from being more in sync with some of that later in the decade blues rock
droning which, unless sourced from origins of a more inspirational seam, can
result in total dullardsville. Although, and it has to be said, not everything
here equates to A1 prime Elevators class, for example Dylan’s ‘Baby Blue’, a
delicious, stunningly worked-up interpretation when it appeared later on
“Easter Everywhere” is, unfortunately, here reduced (almost) to a
mere competent instrumental version they’ve called ‘Jam # 4: (It’s All Over
Now) Baby Blue Jam’. The sound of a flute, organ and at least two guitars
completely jar somewhat and also appear to be slightly out of tune with each
other which, in itself, might not be that big a deal but nonetheless but here
it’s enough to cause me to wince at least twice, or even thrice. Here and
there, however, Stacy and others can be heard shining thru’, although it was
apparently on this gig that Sutherland, flying high on 1000 mics of LSD,
flipped out mid-gig in an angels versus demons mind-battle that at one point
turned the audience into a bunch of evil wolves … so it’s a wonder that he
could still play in any coherent manner at all given that state of mind.
Moreover, the likes of ‘Roller Coaster’, ‘Kingdom Of Heaven’
and ‘Reverberation (Doubt)’ are all superfine, high class renderings with all
the band members playing really well, and seeming to be totally focused on the
music and right there in the zone. Same can almost be said for ‘Levitation’ and
‘She Lives In A Time Of Her Own’ despite one or two passages in the former
where it seems that Roky has temporarily lost the place but, thankfully, he
gets it back together and, on the latter where the vocals are all too sparse,
yet group hardly falters at all. Similarly, ‘Don’t Fall Down’ would probably
fit into this compartment too.
All in all then, this rates as a pretty splendid package
even if it does pit such visually alluring qualities as offered by the box and
it’s contents against the aural presentation of what, in reality, isn’t one
their absolute best shows. Those shortcomings aside, however, this is still a
thoroughly exciting, tremendously appealing documentation; a precious, if
imperfect snapshot of one of this incredible group’s most legendary
performances from that all-too brief time toward the end of the original
incarnation. For this alone we should be thankful such a thing even exists, and
for it then to be brought to us in such a fabulous deluxe way as this we can
only offer our praise to the designers, producers and manufacturers and say
amen!
Review made by Lenny Helsing/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
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