Roky Erickson

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Live Review

by Mark Deming

Two live recordings of 13th Floor Elevators leader and psychedelic visionary Roky Erickson are paired up on this double-disc set. Both shows have been circulating in various forms for some time, especially the 1987 concert from Austin, TX's The Ritz, with Will Sexton joining Erickson and company on guitar. While the source tape was obviously an audience recording, the audio is on the level of a good-quality bootleg, with the band in solid form and the audience sounding appreciative of Erickson's presence. (Too bad they couldn't have trimmed the annoying gaps of silence between songs, though.) Erickson himself sounds lucid and engaged, too, which isn't always the case with live recordings of the man, and the set list spans both his years with the Elevators and his solo recordings quite nicely. Surprisingly, the less common second show in this package, a 1979 Dallas date with Erickson backed by the Nervebreakers, is even better, with the band sounding tighter and more emphatic, Erickson delivering incisive performances of some great but lesser-known songs (including "The Wind and More" and "Mine Mine Mind"), and sharper and more resonant audio. While this is no substitute for any of Erickson's solo albums from the period, it serves its purpose well enough as a document of his prowess as a live performer. Too bad about the strikingly unattractive packaging, though.

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