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-










6 thoughts on “The Psychedelic Sounds Of The13th Floor Elevators

  1. Hi Eric

    As i went to a music/art-oriented high school few years back, i was hanging out a lot with people who loved anything post rock/psychedelic/punk related. And i must say that i’ve never heard about this band actually!

    For that i want to thank you, because i just looked them up and damn! It gave me something to listen to this Friday evening.

    I agree with your rating, music back in the 60s was never known for the quality, but mostly for the energy and attitude. Which most artists/bands lack today.

    I’ve been hooked up mostly on Electronic music this past year, so it’s easy to miss awesome bands like these.

    1. Hello Henric, thank you for stopping by! I am happy you like the 13th Floor Elevators, they were one of the first psych bands, and very influential. Please come back again and visit!

  2. I really dig the sounds of this band. They have a classic 60’s sound that kind of reminds me of one of my favorite bands from that era the Doors. Music back then had such a laid back easy going vibe to it, probably from all the LSD that was consumed in the 60″s, but nevertheless it’s a sound indicative of that era. I’m curious did this band make anymore albums?

    1. Hey Bubba, thanks for commenting! The 13th Floor Elevators released 4 albums between 1966-1969. They are the debut which I reviewed, “Easter Everywhere,” “Live” and “Bull of the Woods” if you want to check them out. Thanks again and come back and visit, I’ll post around two or three reviews a week.

  3. Wow, they sound really good to be a sixties band. I used to hang out with friends that liked psychedelic rock bands.

    I listened to Buffalo Springfield, Jefferson Airplane, and the Grateful Dead to name a few. Were they well-known in their time? I hadn’t ever heard of them personally.

    I also neve heard of the electric jug that you refer too. What’s funny is when you look it up there are ads at the top for electric tea kettles lol. Not exactly what I had in mind.

    You did a great job covering this band and I appreciate the introduction. It’s old-fashioned, but still better than any popular music today. Cheers

    1. Hi Jason, thanks for stopping by! The 13th Floor Elevators were relatively well known in the sixties, but they are better known as one of the original, if not the original psychedelic bands. The electric jug has a unique sound, which has been around for a long time in other genres of music, but this is one of the first appearances of the jug in rock music. Please visit the site again, glad you stopped by!

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