Roky Erickson

I Have Always Been Here Before: The Roky Erickson Anthology

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If Roky Erickson had vanished from the face of the earth after the 13th Floor Elevators released their epochal debut single, "You're Gonna Miss Me," in early 1966, in all likelihood he'd still be regarded as a legend among garage rock fanatics for his primal vocal wailing and feral harmonica work. But while Erickson has become something of an icon among fans of rock at its edgiest, far too many regard the man as some sort of acid casualty who peaked with his first record and has been babbling about movie monsters ever since. Though Erickson's first two albums with the 13th Floor Elevators are watershed works of the early psychedelic movement (especially the wondrous Easter Everywhere), his later solo releases (recorded after a stay in a Texas mental hospital took a fearsome toll on Erickson's psyche) contain many moments of brilliant, bare-wired rock & roll despite their freak-show reputation, and his occasional forays into folk-rock (especially on the lovely All That May Do My Rhyme) possess a gentle wisdom and mesmerizing beauty that are genuinely inspiring. Erickson's body of recorded work has long merited an intelligently assembled critical overview, and thankfully Bill Bentley, a longtime Erickson partisan who assembled the 1990 multi-artist compilation Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye: A Tribute to Roky Erickson, has created just such an album with I Have Always Been Here Before: The Roky Erickson Anthology. Beginning with Erickson's first single (a magnetic 1965 side with his early band the Spades), I Have Always Been Here Before swings into a well-chosen ten-song overview of Erickson's tenure with the Elevators (and while the liner notes claim the version of "Slip Inside This House" is a rare single edit, it's actually the full-length album cut). Even more importantly, the bulk of I Have Always Been Here Before sorts the pearls from a number of poorly assembled collections of Erickson's solo recordings, and the switchblade proto-punk rock of "Click Your Fingers Applauding the Play," the twisted pop of "Creature With the Atom Brain," and the plaintive folk-rock of "You Don't Love Me Yet" make clear that Erickson's talents went in a number of different directions, but his bright, clear vocals, fine songs, and sharp rhythm guitar work shine like a jewel in any context. I Have Always Been Here Before: The Roky Erickson Anthology confirms what a handful of fans have long known -- that Erickson is a major talent who has created a remarkable body of work -- and this is easily the most comprehensive and satisfying collection of his music assembled to date. If you have any interest at all in Roky Erickson's music, this is easily the best starting point to investigate his work, and unlike many Erickson collections, the artist will actually get royalties for this one.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: The Spades
3:20
2 2:29
3 2:51
4 2:49
5 3:22
6 2:59
7 8:03
8 3:57
9 4:00
10 2:28
11 6:31
12 3:02
13 3:31
14 3:34
15 3:17
16 2:43
17 2:36
18 2:58
19 3:18
20 2:47
21 2:53
22 2:34

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:03
2 4:13
3 5:24
4 4:21
5 4:00
6 3:11
7 2:25
8 4:24
9 2:10
10 5:46
11 4:23
12 2:47
13 3:27
14 2:50
15 6:08
16 3:07
17 3:35
18 2:17
19 4:28
20 3:48
21 3:03
blue highlight denotes track pick