Roky Erickson and the Aliens – “The Evil One” (1981)

March 18, 2009 at 7:37 pm (David Fricke, Reviews & Articles)

Written by David Fricke for Rolling Stone, April 15, 1982…

For Roky Erickson, once the lead singer for Texas garage-rock legends the 13th Floor Elevators, LSD was a trip from which he never entirely returned. In the Sixties, Erickson didn’t just turn on and tune in. Instead, he completely wigged out, though not before cutting four eccentric, acid-punk LPs and one classic slice of psychedelia-in-the-raw, “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” with the long-defunct Elevators.

But unlike fellow acid casualty Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd’s original guitarist), Erickson isn’t one of rock & roll’s total losses. The Evil One, his first American solo album, shows that while he may have lost some of his marbles, he’s retained that shrill, hellish voice that epitomized the teenage-white-rebel defiance and stoned-hippie naiveté of the Elevators and their protopunk peers. Fifteen years later, Erickson’s voice is perfectly suited to the twisted devil worship and paranoiac horror-movie imagery of his lyrics and the Blue Öyster Cult-style crunch of his new band, the Aliens.

Mephistopheles jumps to a jacked-up Chuck Berry beat in “Don’t Shake Me Lucifer.” Dead men terrorize the living with the snarl of hyper-fuzz guitars in “Creature with the Atom Brain.” While Bill Miller’s electric autoharp adds an exotic gypsy voodoo sting to the Aliens’ attack, producer Stu Cook (the ex-Creedence Clearwater Revival bassist) heightens the short-circuiting psychedelia of such songs as “Click Your Fingers Applauding the Play” and “The Wind and More” with a cracklingly aggressive sound one step removed from heavy metal.

This combination of Saturday-matinee harum-scarum and hard-rock hysterics might have come off as comic drug fallout if it wasn’t for Erickson’s convincing performance. His sinister Texas drawl is charged with Transylvanian dread as he rails, “If you have ghosts, you have everything.” Call it punk cultism, call it camp (The Roky Horror Picture Show?), but The Evil One cooks like a soul in hellfire. In fact, it’s so good that–well, maybe the devil made him do it.

David Fricke

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1 Comment

  1. Elcoj said,

    Greatings,
    Not sure that this is true:), but thanks for a post.

    Thanks
    Elcoj

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