Roky Erickson was very much a changed man when he re-emerged on the music scene in the late '70s after a deeply troubling stay in a mental institution following an arrest for drugs in 1969. The graceful but energetic proto-psychedelia of Erickson's music with the 13th Floor Elevators was replaced by a hot-wired straight-ahead rock sound which suggested an updated version of the teenaged garage pounders Roky recorded with his early group the Spades, and the charming psychobabble of Tommy Hall's lyrics with the Elevators gave way to twisted narratives documenting Roky's obsessive enthusiasm for cheezoid horror movies of the 1950s. It wasn't until 1980 that Erickson released his first solo album, and that disc has had a rather eventful history. Stu Cook (ex-Creedence Clearwater Revival) produced the sessions over a period of two years, and the album appeared in Europe as Roky Erickson & the Aliens (released by CBS in England, making it Roky's only major-label release to date), while in America it came out as The Evil One on the San Francisco indie 415 Records. The British and American releases featured different track lineups, and each version featured songs which didn't show up on the other; to complicate matters all the more, early versions of three of the songs were released on a small-label EP in France. His band, the Aliens, are in sharp, precise form; Erickson's vocals confirm he's a blues-rock belter of the first order (even when he's raving about creatures with atom brains, two-headed dogs, or the Evil One himself), and if the songs are a bit odd lyrically (which you would expect from the titles), the tunes are clever and punchy and rock on out. While the serene and evocative folk-rock of All That May Do My Rhyme represents Roky Erickson's strongest solo work, The Evil One shows just how strong a rocker he could be -- and how good a band he could put together. Great stuff, and certainly the best representation of Roky's "latter-day punk" period.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming