The 13th Floor Elevators

Sign of the 3 Eyed Men

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The 13th Floor Elevators were one of the pioneering bands of American psychedelic rock, and their small but visionary body of work has won them a devoted following, but they've had a hard time earning the respect and historical notice they've deserved. There are many reasons for this, but the often-shoddy treatment of their recorded legacy doubtless has a great deal to do with it. The band's record label, Houston-based International Artists, clearly didn't know just what to make of them once it became clear they weren't just another garage band, and when the company went under in 1970, their back catalog (as well as that of label-mates the Red Krayola, Golden Dawn, the Bubble Puppy, and Lost & Found) fell into limbo, traveling for years on bootleg reissues and poorly mastered and packaged legit releases. As music historian Paul Drummond researched the Elevators' story for his biography Eye Mind, he also began studying what became of their studio masters, and the fruits of his labors can be heard on 2009's Sign of the 3 Eyed Men, a ten-CD box set that for the first time compiles the bulk of the Elevators recordings in one place and in proper fidelity. Though not everything on Sign of the 3 Eyed Men has been sourced from original tapes (some of which no longer exist), Drummond and Walt Andrus (who engineered most of the original Elevators recordings) have done wonders with restoring this material, and after years of fuzzy, distorted editions of the group's core catalog, this set finally allows fans to hear The Psychedelic Sound of the 13th Floor Elevators, Easter Everywhere, and Bull of the Woods as they were truly meant to be heard (the first two albums appear in both mono and stereo versions, while Bull of the Woods is accompanied by an alternate version that more closely resembles what guitarist Stacy Sutherland had in mind for the album). This alone would make Sign of the 3 Eyed Men worth owning, but the set also includes a disc of excellent early studio recordings intended for an album that was scrapped when the band signed to IA, fiery live sets recorded in Texas and California (the Texas tapes are of uneven fidelity but priceless historical importance, while the California live set is stunning in both fidelity and performance), and a final disc of the band's later-day shows. Add a beautifully designed and exhaustively annotated 72-page hardcover book by Drummond and a lovely collection of posters and souvenirs, and you get the definitive presentation of the 13th Floor Elevators and their music. Anyone with more than a passing interest in the birth of psychedelic rock and the counterculture of the '60s should get to know the Elevators' remarkable story, and Sign of the 3 Eyed Men beautifully recounts their music and their legacy; it's nothing short of a triumph.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:53
2 4:51
3 8:26
4 3:16
5
0:57
6 2:44
7 4:36
8 3:18
9 4:00
10 2:32
11 3:00
12 4:19
13
3:33
14 2:48
15 4:40
16 5:00
17
1:43
18 2:08
19 6:44
20 5:59

Track Listing - Disc 7

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 8:05
2 3:41
3 2:57
4 2:59
5 5:17
6 4:49
7 3:58
8 2:43
9 2:29
10 6:32
11 2:05
12 3:57
13 3:02
14 3:05
15 3:27
16 3:09
17 4:17
blue highlight denotes track pick