The Psychedelic Sounds Of The13th Floor Elevators




The 13th Floor Elevators were an American psychedelic rock band that got their start in Austin, Texas in 1965. They consisted of three musicians, Roky Erickson, Stacy Sutherland, and Tommy Hall, who played the electric jug. They are considered to be one of the very first psychedelic bands. The band’s musical style is somewhat unique in rock music due to the use of the electric jug.

The band’s debut album, “The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators” was released in 1966, and contained their only hit, You’re Gonna Miss Me. The song reached number 55 on the charts. It is arguably the first recorded psychedelic song, and it sounds great, and has that garage rock feel to it.

The next song on the record is Roller Coaster, with a great opening guitar piece that sounds very familiar, and then the electric jug comes in, giving the song and interesting pop. Actually, many of the songs by The 13th Floor Elevators have the jug spattering in the background, and it gives the music a deep, low feeling.

Early 13th Floor Elevators concert poster in Austin, Texas

When I first heard the jug on the record, I was a bit perplexed, as I had never heard it on an album before. I quickly took to it, and it’s jumpy, poppy sound. It is weird at first, but it works.

Splash 1(Now I’m Home) is a slower song, but beautifully executed. This tune has some good guitar work, but it is without the jug this time, and the tune wouldn’t sound right with it anyway.

With Reverberation, the jug comes out again in full force, with great garage rock guitars.

Don’t Fall Down is another slower song with a nice guitar intro, and this time the jug makes an appearance and it works. This is basically a straight up love song, with a warning to the boy not to screw up, because she is there for him. Very nice tune.

The next song, Fire Engine, starts out with an attempt to sound like an actual fire engine, but to me the guitarwork and vocals at the beginning remind me of a 60’s surf tune. Very sixties, early psychedelia.

Thru The Rhythm has those sixties guitars again, and this song caught my attention right away, because I thought Mick Jagger was the vocalist, at least at the very beginning of the song. And, of course, here come the jugs again. Great tune.

You Don’t Know is the next song on the record, and it is pretty standard fare for the era, with the exception of the electric jug in the background, which gives the song that recognisable 13th Floor Elevators feel.

Kingdom Of Heaven is one of my favorite songs on the album. It starts off with slow, haunting guitars, and the song as a whole is very eerie, and makes me think it would be a great soundtrack for a horror movie. Classic sixties music at it’s best.

This is one of the classic psychedelic records in my opinion, and as stated before, it is considered to be the first to experiment with the sound that defines the genre. The quality is not stellar, it is very raw in its execution, but it is pure, and entertaining, and is one of my favorites.

Rating: A-