The 13th Floor Elevators

The Legendary Group at Their Best

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Although the title is rather misleading (this is everything the band ever did), Legendary Group at Their Best is an excellent way to view the Thirteenth Floor Elevators' checkered career. All four releases are included, even the infamous live album. Starting with their first album, The Psychedelic Sounds Of..., the band was a creative monster at the time, making some of the wildest and most original psychedelic rock of the decade. Rivaling Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club in terms of importance to modern music, the band started out on top. On Easter Everywhere, their second album, the band was still making the same sort of urgent, angst-ridden rock with the weird jittery sound effects and wild drug-influenced vocals intact. Drugs had in fact dulled their creative powers at this point, but the band was quite unaware of it, leading to some of the most interesting music composed at the time. The disastrous third disc, originally released just as Live, was actually the band's studio outtakes with crowd noise pasted on courtesy of the record company. The sound is awful, and the few new songs featured are mostly just competently played covers. Finally, Bull of the Woods, the last disc, is the final release from the Texas madmen. By this point Roky Erikson, their lead singer and songwriter, was so numbed from drug and mental problems that he barely appears on the album at all. The album is their most dated by far, sounding more typical and uninspired than they ever had before. That being said, they still sounded pretty wild, but time has dulled the impact of it greatly. Still, it is nice that this album was included, because Erikson's last song with the band, "May the Circle Remain Unbroken," is without a doubt the weirdest thing the band recorded, and it's a perfect way to sum up their short existence. The collection follows a promising young psychedelic band through their entire career in only four hours, and tragically the band was forever splintered when Erikson was brutally tortured in a mental home after pleading insanity in a court case where he was on trial for holding one joint. As a listening experience, this is an uneven album with a disappointing second half. But as a historical piece, there is no better way to collect the releases by the Thirteenth Floor Elevators than to get this album.

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