Review: Roky Erickson & The Aliens “The Evil One”

By Alle Royale

  Let’s be honest, the infamous desert Island record list changes almost on weekly basis, but we all have some firm favorites, two or three records, that pass the test of times and tastes. Well, for me one of those records is ‘The Evil One’ by Roky Erickson and The Aliens: a very sought after item, not really easy to find these days, whose track-list I almost knew beforehand just because is so good that every single rock ‘n’ roll garage band in the world has covered at least one song from it.

  Roky Erickson is legend, I mean, he was one of the cats who shaped psychedelic rock in the sixties with The 13th Floor Elevators, just in time to be incarcerated in Rusk Mental Hospital in 1969, having feigned insanity to avoid a prosecution for possession of marijuana, and to spend a good part of his life under psychiatric treatments as a result.

   ‘The Evil One’ saw the light of day in 1980, as the summa of Roky’s best recorded output of the seventies, resulting in a body of work surprisingly cohesive and hard rocking; long gone were the psychedelic raga trips, in favor of a straightforward guitar driven sound and simple song structures with catchy melodies; if ‘Don’t Shake Me Lucifer’ and ‘I Walked With A Zombie’ refer heavily to the garage rock style of the sixties, ‘Night Of The Vampire’ is every bit creepy as the title suggest as it approaches the listener slowly and relentlessly, as something that knows it will get you in the end.

   The hospitals, the doctors, the ‘cures’, all these are recurring demons, exorcised through his own songs; try to follow the lyrics, while listening to sublime garage rock anthems like ‘Bloody Hammer’ (once covered by Josh Homme’s Queens Of The Stone Age) and ‘Two Headed Dog’ (once covered by almost anyone with an electric guitar), and you will experience, with no filter or false mannerism, the tormented human being and his art, conceived in a far out world of his own. How Roky manages to catch those glimpse of lucidity that allows him to put in music his nightmares and create such great songs, it’s a total mystery to me.

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