Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bull of the Woods - 13th Floor Elevators (LP 1)

Alrighty, what do I know about the 13th Floor Elevators? Well, the first time I ever heard them was the beginning of the (awesome) movie, "High Fidelity". "You're Gonna Miss Me" is a very cool song, and I remember having a positive nod towards a few of the other Elevators tracks that I've heard John play on the show. So, I went into listening to this one with a fairly good mindset.

The 13th Floor Elevators have a very interesting story, mainly that of leader Roky Erickson. I highly recommend the documentary "You're Gonna Miss Me", that is the story of Roky's life and decent into madness. (I love rock docs. Even if I don't like the band, I tend to watch them because a lot of the times, they're really interesting. That is unless it's about someone I completely can't stand, count me glued to the tv for the time that it's on.) Can't say I know all that much about the group as a whole, though. (We saw "You're Gonna Miss Me" around the same time we saw "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" at the State Theatre, and for some reason...I get them mixed up! Duh...)

Anyway, so this evening I tossed (um, I mean, handled extremely carefully) this record onto John's turntable:

One thing I love about LPs is cover art. Cover art rules. Well, not all cover art, but you get my drift. Back in the day (I'm not THAT old, really, I just like saying that), cover art was, well, art. Yep. Not necessarily photographs (while there are a lot of great photographs used in cover art), but honest to goodness art that somebody actually took the time to produce. I love looking at LP covers. You can't judge a book by looking at the cover (but you know, we all do), but sometimes you CAN judge a record by one.

From the looks of this one...not one of the greatest covers I've ever seen. Yep, a bull, they got that point across. He appears to be starring out from a wooden frame in a burlap sack. Uh-huh. Ok. Moving on.


Side One:
1. Livin On
2. Barnyard Blues
3. Till Then
4. Never Another
5. Rose and the Thorn
6. Down by the River

Side Two:

1. Scarlet and Gold
2. Street Song
3. Dr. Doom
4. With You
5. May the Circle Remain Unbroken

I admit, I played side two first. I don't know why. I had a natural blonde moment and accidentally put the album on the second side first. I looked at the track listing and just thought it was one of those bands who are so cool and existential that they don't use their song titles in the lyrics. Anyway, I have to say that I wasn't really groovin' on the first few songs of side two. I don't really know what else to say but that it just really didn't do anything for me. "With You" was the first song from side two that I enjoyed. "May the Circle Remain Unbroken", I thought was going to be that gospel song, but I was pleasantly surprised. John walked by and said, "Yeah, this song is kinda creepy,", but it reminded me slightly of something cool and otherworldly like a song I enjoy by the group, Spiritualized called "We Are Now Floating In Space" or something like that...forgive my forgetting.

Side One, oh yes, way better than side two, in my opinion. "Barnyard Blues" was very cool for a blues song (not a huge blues fan here), and "Till Then" was probably my favorite track on this album. It sort of reminds me of The Byrds when I really liked the Byrds. On "Never Another", I think I heard that famous jug. "Rose and the Thorn" seemed kind of uneven, and I thought "Down by the River" was going to be that Neil Young tune.

Over all, I give "Bull of the Woods" two and a half thumbs up out of my "all thumbs" five-thumb rating system. (Confusing enough?)

Now, a few questions to John:

Where did you buy this record and when?
Princeton Record Exchange or Vintage Vinyl probably around '99 or 2000.

Do you own it in any other format?
It's included on a CD boxset I own.

What is your over-all impression of this album?
Not my favorite of the Elevators. I like a couple of the tunes. Sounds like a totally different band from their other records. Roky was only on a few because he was institutionallized at this time.

Favorite Track?
"Till Then"

How many stars out of five?
Three 1/2

1 comment:

  1. heidi - GREAT idea for a blog. i am really looking forward to future installments.

    reading what you've written reminds me a lot of a conversation i had once, years ago, with a buddy of mine back in indiana. somehow or other, we got on the subject of this weird parallel-universe that record collectors - at least a certain type of collectors, anyway - live in, where talking about Q65, michigan punk, skip spence, and the utter preferability of the post-michael brown left banke to the original left banke is like talking about *sports* in the rest of the world. we both had this weird moment of simultaneous clarity where we realized that our daily lingua franca must seem completely impenetrable and ridiculous to "normal" people.

    i think this is totally awesome, that you're doing this. looking very much to further entries!!!


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