Thursday, January 10, 2008

BOOK CORNER WITH BRAD KOHLER!

(Editor's note: sometimes it really is a drag writing all of these pithy blog posts, attempting to crank out pertinent and pointed opinions on product "x" while putting on a pose of trying to be fresh as a daisy in both content and attitude. Especially after putting in a grueling day at the Salt Mines it can become quite the task. And if you think I'm always up to writing these at-times beyond-massive posts that are cutting and etapoint if only to please you gonzoid rockism fanatics out there, then honest-to-Lou Rone you're even screwier than I thought! That's why today I hand over the podium to none other than longtime BLACK/BLOG TO COMM camp follower and non-backstabber Brad Kohler, who in a bid for a li'l bitta fame 'n' fortune decided to contribute the following book review not only to enlighten you ignorant readers, but to glom some of the internet limelight himself! And so w/o further delay...here's the man with the plan to take you by the han' and toss the whole concept of guest-star writers for this particular blog inna can...BRAD KOHLER!!!)

EYE MIND-THE SAGA OF ROKY ERICKSON AND THE 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS, THE PIONEERS OF PSYCHEDELIC SOUND by Paul Drummond (Process, 2007)

In the 1985 film DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN, Madonna answers the door in a hotel room. Its room thirteen on the thirteenth floor. She packs up her things and marches to the elevator. The back of her leather jacket is embroidered with a huge pyramid and eye, and she calls "hold the elevators!"

That's a strange bit of a covert reference that I bet the readers of this blog were unaware of. Because naturally, being manic rock 'n rollers none of you have ever seen a Madonna movie. And no, I didn't either. Wise guy, it's mentioned in the book!

Eight years in the making, EYE MIND is full of first hand info from band members and key players in the Elevators' wild saga. And even if some of the memories are chemically compromised, I'm guessing the real truth is even wiggier! It's amazing that the skull-splitting pure laboratory LSD-25 the participants and hangers-on were taking as regularly as hamburgers leaves any recollections at all. Besides, you know of buildings uprooting themselves and walking down roads.

To show how hardcore these Texas boys (and girls) were, Pigpen of the Grateful Dead (!) is supposed to have exclaimed "they don't really play a gig on acid?!" (!!) Not only did they play on it, (except for drummer John Ike Walton, who had an early bad experience), they would time it so they were peaking when they went on stage.

The making of Svengali lyricist Tommy Hall's philosophic whatsis is documented. Even after involved descriptions of the religious and mathematic broth blended unto the Elevators' psych stew, if I had to take a test on what it all meant, I'd hope for a multiple choice quiz I could at least guess at. Brainiac Tommy comes off as less than likable, and he hampered the chances of the band becoming big time by only being interested in doing the band to make money to buy acid to turn people on with.

Also working against the Elevators was a record lable so clueless (and corrupt, except for sympathetic figure Lelan Rogers) they would have been unable to break the Beatles. (John Ike Walton, after leaving the band and litigating against the label for years received one check, for four dollars and six cents. It bounced.)

But hey, you wanna hear about that majestic, over-the-top feedback-drenched wail that's had us pouring over Elevators records and boots for years, plugging into the spellbinding electric yawp of it all! Heretofore shadowy chapters of the band's California sojurn are fleshed out. (Although poo-pooed by some for dressing like hicks, the stood out as a fully-realized rocking juggernaut while most all the fledgling San Fran bands were still somewhat folky in approach. They were also the loudest band around!)

Having always believed that Roky, though no poster boy for mental health, was basically OK until he came out of Rusk, EYE MIND shows that he was a strung out wreck going in, and being committed actually helped in one regard, since he was off street drugs almost all the time he was inside.

The book wraps up with the post-Elevators' fates of the band members (Roky's being fairly well known). Stacy Sutherland, the most talented musician and fulcrum of the band (and along with Roky the most bedeviled by over-zealous Texas police) met a particularly early sad and violent end.

Tons of rare and cool pictures (some in color) abound. Dig Roky as the Mad Hatter in a school play!

3 comments:

Rick Noll said...

Glad there are some non backstabbers out there! I am reading this fine book now and recommend it as well. You need to get the word out that Roky's on Austin City Limits this saturday night, the 12th, on PBS! dont know how much will be Roky and how much will be the Kings of Leon, but if I am not mistaken, it will be his first national TV appearance since 1966!

This is yet another stage to a simply unbelievable comeback and a story still being written! visit the mans site rokyerickson.net and buy something!

Christopher said...

Check yer loco listings!!!!

Anonymous said...

May have bought this book had I not seen 'forward by Julian Cope' on the cover. Never mind, I'll get the DVD instead.

Talking of taking acid and peaking on stage, I've just finished the Pink Fairies book - Keep It Together. The Pinks used to take acid before going on stage expecting to peak after they'd finished, only to end up peaking mid-gig due to last minute schedule changes. It's a good read although it does draw heavilly on quotes from interviews given for other books and Mick Farren's own essential biography for its content. There are a few glaring factual inconsistancies in there as well. Don't let this put you off though, it's still well worth a purchase.