The 13th Floor Elevators

Headstone: The Contact Sessions

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On one hand, the Texas group the 13th Floor Elevators were like the hundreds of other garage bands from the 1960s, and on the other hand, of course, they weren’t. There was that constant electric jug sound from Tommy Hall running through everything the band recorded, for one, and with Roky Erickson’s edgy, aggressive vocal style poured in over the top, the Elevators always sounded like they were about to become completely unhinged, if indeed they weren’t already. The group, thanks to label mishandling and the oppressive Texas drug laws, never really got a chance to truly evolve past that initial chaotic sound, but their legacy remains a strong one. The Elevators were an outlaw band before that concept became merely a marketing strategy. This set collects the mono tracks for what would have been the group’s first album, Headstone, had it actually been released (it was recorded for Gordon Bynum’s Contact Records), which it wasn’t. Things are rounded off with a handful of the Headstone sides mixed for stereo, and four hit-or-miss live performances recorded at La Maison in Houston in the summer of 1966. Highlights include the single version of Erickson’s signature garage classic “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” a wacky take on Buddy Holly’s “I’m Gonna Love You Too” (imagine Holly with an electric jug player), and a credible live version of the Animals’ “We’ve Gotta Get Outta This Place.”

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