Roky Erickson and The Explosives
Halloween Live, 1979-1981
Freddie Steady Sound Recordings
I first discovered Roky Erickson on a 10” vinyl compilation entitled Guillotine on Virgin with “Bermuda.” The original recording of this song features bubbling water as a drone in the background, I guess to signify the ocean, but to my high school ears it sounded as if some madman was rocking out in a fish tank. This record also introduced me to X-Ray Spex with “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” and XTC, which became my soundtrack. A few years passed and I discovered the 13 Floor Elevators and that was all she wrote, because Roky and the Elevators still sound bizarrely unique even today, but back then, well, they blew your mind with “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” “Fire Engine,” and “Roller Coaster.”
Largely written off as an acid causality after the Elevators quit recording (and to be fair, the band seemed to exist on blotter paper and moonshine, or so goes the legend) and in and out of mental hospitals over the years, when Erickson got his act together, he truly slayed, such as on this set of live recordings from 1979-1981. Featuring the Explosives—Roky on guitar and vocals, Cam King on lead guitar, Waller Collie on bass, and Freddie Steady KRC on drums—Erickson sounds like a man possessed and, in the punk era, found a receptive audience. These two LPs are Roky at his finest from Austin to San Francisco, stunning the crowd with “Two Headed Dog,” “I Walked With A Zombie,” “Bermuda,” and a few Elevators hits, as well as a spin through The Beatles “I’ve Just Seen A Face.” This is no burnout has-been, but rather an enthused, focused rocker. Sadly, I never got to see him live (Erickson died in 2019), so moments like Halloween will have to do.
And he still has the ability to blow your mind, acid or not. “Stand for the Fire Demon” indeed!