The 13th Floor Elevators “Live”
International Artists released this live album of dubious quality in 1968. Live is in fact studio outtakes with applause dubbed over the beginning and end of each track. At this point the 13th Floor Elevators were crumbling due to drug complications and other legal disputes. New material was short and International Artists knew this. So a live album must’ve seemed like a good idea at the time – it would satisfy hungry fans of the group and fulfill contractual obligations. In the end the above LP didn’t sell and the sound quality is a bit iffy but for the Elevator fan this disc is mandatory listening. It’s a solid album with quality performances and 5 songs that are unique to this disc only.
“She Lives In A Time Of Her Own,” “Tried To Hide,” “Roller Coaster,” “You’re Gonna Miss Me” and “I’ve Got Levitation” are certainly familar and had been on the Elevators’ prior two groundbreaking LPs. These cuts are all classic performances that capture the band at the peak of their powers. But you’re buying this record/CD for the five outtakes that make Live unique. The Elevators do excellent covers of Buddy Holly’s “I’m Gonna Love You Too” (Erickson nails Holly’s vocal style) and Solomon Burke’s “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love.” The latter is given a raunchy garage rock rendition and is one of the LP’s clear highlights. The two originals are classics too. “You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore” must have been an outtake from the first album as it’s loaded with crazed vocals, primitive sound quality, and a tremendous energy (pure mid 60s garage rock at its best). The other track, “You Gotta Take That Girl,” is more of a folk-rock ballad: an excellent one that shows a sensitive side to this great group. Note: Before You Accuse Me and I’m Gonna Love You Too would be released as IA singles in 1967/1968.
Live has been marginalized for many years, perhaps for its fake crowd sound FX, but I think it’s held up pretty well over time. Much has been made of the Elevators in recent years. Some say they were the very first psychedelic group and their music represents the purest form of this experience. Others have acknowledged Erickson’s vocals and personality coupled with Stacey Sutherland’s acid leads as an enormous influence. If anything, this release proves the 13th Floor Elevators were a great, down-to-earth rock n roll band that knew how to have fun. Live is recommended to both the novice and experienced fan.
“You Gotta Take That Girl”