The greatest praise that I can give to the first Roky Erickson album in fifteen years is that if you listen to it without an inclination of the man, his past, and his inner demons, you’ll find it a worthy collection of alt-country originals that please the ear and comfort the soul.
Of course, for those of you that do know about the man, his past, and those inner demons, True Love Cast Out All Evil becomes that much more of an impressive achievement. If you’ve ever seen the documentary on Erickson, You’re Gonna Miss Me, the new record may even come as a relief, as it may be his first release that finally finds him at peace with himself.
Any decent rock and roll fanatic knows the story about Roky Erickson. They’ve heard the stories of his struggles with mental illness. They know the tale of his unjust incarceration(s). They understand that his legacy has been assured an honorable nod, thanks in large part by one of the only decent tribute compilations ever released (Where The Pyramid Meets The Eye) and the caliber of contributors on it.
Yet there is a good possibility that you only know Roky from only one song, “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” from his band 13th Floor Elevators. And there is a good possibility that you only know that one song from the scene in High Fidelity when Laura leaves Rob and he cranks up the stereo, blaring that classic Elevators’ tune as she retrieves the last personal belongings from their apartment.
As good as that song is—and as wonderful as its source album is (1966’s The Psychedelic Sounds Of)—it isn’t the band’s defining moment. That moment would come with the second long-player, Easter Everywhere, an album that not only continues the 13th Floor Elevators road trip to mind expansion, it manages to send us the obligatory “Wish you were here!” postcard while the rest of us were still on the road trying to catch up.