Back in the '60s, when every town in America seemed to have its own burgeoning music scene, Austin was strangely quiet. Long before the city became filled with clubs and began its hosting of the SXSW music festival, there wasn't much happening on the cool Texas plateau. Not much at all -- save for one group that all but dominated the scene from the late '60s to the early '70s. That group was the eclectic, country-fried psychedelic outfit known as Shiva's Headband. Leader, violinist, guitarist, and vocalist Spencer Perskin was (and still is) the quintessential Austin hippie, who not only lobbied for city-based cultural support for local artists (and succeeded, by founding the Armadillo World Headquarters) but also put Austin on the world-wide music map with the release of Shiva's first major-label effort, Take Me to the Mountains on Capitol (the first ever major-label release by an Austin band). The album is formidable, and its influence on the "galactic cowboy" genre was as great as, say, Love's Forever Changes was to the West Coast rock scene. It laid the groundwork for psychedelic twang and brought the world's attention to the creatively diverse (yet firmly rooted) music that was beginning to blossom back in those Texas heyday. Unlike their peers the 13th Floor Elevators, Shiva's Headband never took off into the stratosphere completely, though. Their rock was honest country-rock all the way, but not to the point that it was ever just a pedestrian rehash. Songs like "My Baby" and "Kaleidescoptic" may feature sawing violin and Texas drawl, but there's no denying that their main trajectory is rock.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by J. Scott McClintock