Roky Erickson

Halloween

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AllMusic Review by

Roky Erickson may have been living across the border from sanity in the late '70s and early '80s, but he hadn't lost touch with his considerable gifts as a singer and rhythm guitarist, and with the right band behind him he was a rock & roll force to be reckoned with. Austin pop-punk pioneers the Explosives frequently did double duty as Roky's band during this period, and this collection of 17 live performances from the band's vaults (recorded in Texas and California) captures both Erickson and his accompanists in great form. Demons, zombies, and other creatures from a steady diet of late-night horror movie broadcasts dominated most of Erickson's songs from this period, but he sings stuff like "I Walked with a Zombie," "Creature with the Atom Brain," and "Don't Shake Me Lucifer" with enough lucidity that he appears to still have one foot planted in reality even at his most bizarre, and his vocals are consistently strong and on point. Roky is every bit as impressive when he ventures into more benign territory -- "Starry Eyes" may be the best Buddy Holly tribute ever, and the rough but heartfelt run through "I've Just Seen a Face" is a pleasant surprise. And the Explosives truly deliver the goods as Erickson's rhythm section; Cam King's guitar leads are fiery but concise, bassist Walter Collie and drummer Freddie Krc lay down a truly relentless backbeat, and their harmonies add just the right icing to Roky's vocals. While the fidelity of these recordings varies quite a bit, Erickson and the band are loud and clear throughout, and the best moments leave no doubt that Erickson is one of the greatest wild talents in rock history; where there are plenty of live recordings of Roky Erickson on the market, this is easily near the top of the heap for sheer energy and enthusiasm.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:56
2 2:54
3 3:19
4 5:20
5 4:27
6 4:25
7 7:55
8 4:58
9 3:46
10 3:12
11 4:08
12 3:53
13 3:02
14 4:39
15 2:19
16 2:32
17 2:59
18 0:29
blue highlight denotes track pick