Friday, February 18, 2011

Several Species Of Small Furry Thoughts - The comfort of things.

I don’t know about you but I greatly cherish my days off. Not only for the respite from the grind, but also because it allows me prolonged exposure to those things that mean most: my house, pets, and the “things” which identify me. I guess it is because of the tireless media drumbeat of “the death of this that and the other thing” that has made me so aware, but in the last couple of months as I have had time off I have found a new extreme comfort in things. The other day, for instance I listened to the vinyl issue of Wanda Jackson’s fantastic new album while reading the new Ken Kesey biography Acid Christ (autographed copies are available at Tattered Cover) and then moved on to the Neil Young issue of Mojo. Later I watched a Blu-Ray of the very interesting, and somewhat disturbing film adaptation of Where The Wild Things Are. The point isn’t how lucky I am to have all this stuff (which I surely am), but that there is a unique and very human pleasure attached to the items I describe. Not just the content, but the item itself. The holding of a book or magazine, the flipping of a vinyl record to side B and then the endless reexamination of the cover art and liner notes, the smell of my old records which permeates the entire room, mixing with the wonderful odor of old adventures coming from my comic book closet. These are things that are not available with the online experience … and never will be. The warm, olfactory charm of thousands of records physically being in a room with you is a certain magic that may be lost on future generations. How sad. For me these days when I afford myself the luxury of lying on the sofa, blasting music, reading a book - it makes my life worth living in this increasingly upsetting and less beautiful world.

Another CD I have spent some time with lately, has been the deluxe reissue of 13th Floor Elevators classic album Easter Everywhere the 1967 follow-up to their first classic album, The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators. I have always considered the first album this mercurial band’s best and had not really given Easter Everywhere as much attention. Big mistake! Easter Everywhere is a raw, wild freak-out album that contains some of the most authentic psychedelic music ever made. Easter Everywhere is actually a far more developed album than the first, kicking off with what could be their best song (and one of the best acid revelation lyrics ever) “Slip Inside This House” which over the course of many minutes drags the listener on a moody weird trip informed by chilling vocals, spine-tingling guitar lines and the ever-present sound of the electric jug - the thing that makes 13th Floor Elevators so distinctive and immediately recognizable apart from their contemporaries. This album really does just drip LSD. Clearly fried themselves, the members of the band shake and quiver through songs, occasionally losing the thread (or the key they are playing in), but never leaving an almost palpable sense of mystery and dread behind. The whole album is fabulous, but the cover of Dylan’s “(It’s All Over Now) Baby Blue” stands as one of the best Bob covers ever. Roky Erickson’s spooky vocals cut right to the core of this existential masterpiece. This is a real 60’s album. The deluxe reissue is a lovely package with a great booklet and two discs that present the album in both mono and stereo and offer up a bonus track. As I let the day-glow weirdness wash over me, I relished in the fondling of, and reading the booklet. There are rare photos in the package and I stare at them until my eyes grow blurry. I put the package down, but keep my hand on it, feeling the smooth surface.
- Paul

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