HALLOWEEN: LIVE 1979-1981 - Roky Erickson and The Explosives (SteadyBoy Records)
When you look back over the last few years in music, one of the more memorable stories has been the re-emergence of Roky Erickson.
As a result, keen interest in the man's music has grown to a considerable level. Consider his activities in 2007 alone. In the spring of last year, American and European audiences were blessed to see Erickson and his band The Explosives play a series of live dates. Enthusiasm for the gigs grew, as evidenced by Erickson's first ever appearances in New York, which were both sold out. As for the UK portion, Erickson and his band played to a packed house at the Royal Festival Hall. Furthermore, in July of 2007 old and new fans witnessed the 2005 documentary "You're Gonna Miss Me" being released on DVD format; soon followed the book "The Saga of Roky Erickson and The 13th Floor Elevators, Pioneers of Psychedelic Sound" by Paul Drummond (Process Books). It seems judging by this overwhelming activity, Roky is rising above his long-held status of cult performer. Good music never dies.
Now, a year later longtime friend and Explosives drummer Freddy Krc saw fit to release the collection "Halloween: Live 1979 - 1981" on his own SteadyBoy imprint. The new disc attempts to document the live experience of a Roky Erickson and The Explosives show. Already having seen Roky Erickson and the Explosives live twice over the past year, the singer and his band are indeed a remarkable unit. The new CD is successful in recording the magic of the singer and band on any given night. As for the music itself, which contains 17 tracks/versions of Roky's material, I completely agree with Mr. Krc's statement that "you may think you've heard these Roky Erickson songs before, but you couldn't be more wrong."
Roky, with a band like the Explosives, has more of an opportunity to showcase his passionate vocals. As always, Roky's voice continues to impress with that unmistakable roar. In allowing Roky the room to breathe, The Explosives (who also have a 2 CD set "KaBoom" on the same label) can give the older material new life with their own individual talents. Cam King's blistering guitar work, Walter Collie's steady hand and Freddy Krc's drum work were, and still are, the perfect match for Erickson. In fact, the music stripped of it's psychedelic sheen becomes even more roots-driven.
Notable tracks, and there are many, on this collection include high spirited versions of "The Wind And More", "Bloody Hammer", "Wake Up To Rock and Roll" and "White Faces". Also included is a KLBJ radio promotional advertisement for two 1981 Austin gigs.
One minor complaint might the omission of the band's version of the Velvet Underground's "Heroin". Many years ago on a local radio station I heard a rowdy version of a Roky performance of the classic VU song and have since been looking for it. Oh well..
The CD liner notes written by Freddy Krc shed light on the band's reaction to having been picked by Roky to play dates in San Francisco, California. Mr. Krc relates how the band jumped at the chance to play with this legendary Austin performer. Also included is a tour date schedule, gig flyers and a classic photo of Roky wearing a gothic cape which needs to be seen. Packaging artwork/design was commissioned by famed poster artist Dennis Loren.
"Halloween: Live 1979 - 1981" will succeed in not only confirming to long time fans of his unique vision, songwriting and place in history but also serve as an introduction to new fans alike.
- Arthur S
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