Monday, April 28, 2008

Eye Mind: The Saga of Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators

EYE MIND: The Saga of Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators, the Pioneers of Psychedelic Sound
by Paul Drummond
Process Media, Inc. 450 pages

I just spent the weekend reading Eye Mind, Paul Drummond's exhaustive biography of Austin psychedelic legends Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators. When I say "psychedelic," I'm not kidding: these guys not only walked the walk and talked the talk, they dropped acid before pretty much every show they ever played.

I first heard the Elevators in the late '70s, courtesy of Lenny Kaye's great compilation, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts of the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968, which featured the classic "You're Gonna Miss Me." While that song, with Roky's trademark howls, has since been used in numerous movies, and more recently, to sell Dell computers, back then it was a revelation to my young ears. Over the next few years, I laid hands on import copies of the band's LPs The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators and Easter Everywhere, while learning the history behind the music, which involved drug arrests, mental breakdowns, incarcerations in state prisons and institutions for the criminally insane, and other profound forms of bad luck and general misfortune.

Apparently, I didn't know the half of it. Eye Mind meticulously details the group's rise and fall through interviews with not only the surviving members, but also some of those who didn't make it, thanks to archival interviews conducted by such true believers as Andy Brown. Unlike the Roky-centric 2006 documentary You're Gonna Miss Me, the book gives equal time to the other main architects of the Elevators' sound and vision, guitarist Stacy Sutherland and lyricist/jug player Tommy Hall, as well as members of the group's various rhythm sections, and other key figures, such as songwriter Powell St. John and the band's "Earth mother," Clementine Hall.

Compared to their Texas garage band contemporaries, the 13th Floor Elevators were way ahead of the curve musically and philosophically, and gained a devoted following through their incendiary live shows at such long-gone Austin-area nightspots as the Jade Room, and from airplay of their immortal first 45. Of course, flying their freak flags high in mid-'60s Texas made them targets, and paranoia set in early on. The Austin vice squad busted most of the band for possession, leading to a nomadic existence trying to stay one step ahead of the law.

When the band headed west to San Francisco in 1966, they were also head and shoulders above the local bands who would become synonymous with psychedelia: the Dead, the Airplane, and Big Brother were not in the same league as the Elevators. Unfortunately, the band never made it back to the coast, and missed out on the lucrative record deals lavished upon the lesser groups in the San Francisco scene. Part of this was due to the restrictions of the probation that resulted from the drug busts, and partly due to the crippling contractual agreements made with their exploitive record label, International Artists, whose ineptitude in managing the band's career was matched only by their legal expertise in writing airtight, one-sided contracts.

While reading the book, I listened to the Elevators' first two albums and a recording of one of their Avalon Ballroom shows on headphones, which provided an excellent soundtrack to the misadventures and inevitable decline of the band, even if the electric jug was a gimmick that quickly became an annoyance. I was reminded of another book I had recently read, Simon Callow's Hello, Americans, the second volume in his biographical trilogy about the life of Orson Welles. Knowing the story isn't going to end well, I read on, powerless to stop the inevitable tragedy, wishing that I could go back in time to change history, or counsel the protagonists against some of the disastrous decisions that derailed their lives and careers. But that stuff is only possible in the sci-fi movies that Roky loves so much.

Drummond has done a stellar job of telling the story of the band, and of the individuals within it who set forth on a quest that began with visions of enlightenment only to crash and burn in madness and addiction as the '60s wound down.

Unfortunately, although all of the Elevators' music is still in print, the musicians haven't seen much in the way of royalties, owing to the contracts they signed 40 years ago, but in 2005, all future royalties were awarded to the songwriters, a rare instance of a bad publishing deal being overturned through the courts. Unfortunately, the tinny, poorly remastered versions of their music found on CD only hint at the greatness of this one-of-a-kind American band.

The upside is that I live in Austin, and Roky is still playing locally with his band, the Explosives, so it's still possible for me to witness one of rock's greatest voices without having to drive very far.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Hiss: Chocolate Hearts

THE HISS: Chocolate Hearts
Dangerous Moves International

I first became aware of indie garage band the Hiss back in 2003, when their first album, Panic Movement, was released, and their first single, "Triumph," went Top 20 in the UK. I assumed at the time that they were a British band, but a few months back, I got an email from band member Todd Galpin, who informed me that the Hiss were in fact Florida boys who were now based in Atlanta. He told me that they were big fans of Florida Rocks Again! and listened to the shows on the way to their gigs, to stoke their Floridian pride and for general psyched-ness.

Subsequently, a package arrived in the mail with a promo copy of the band's latest album, Chocolate Hearts, in the form of a promo CD and LP with groovy, DIY artwork, as well as a copy of their "Don't Leave Me Out Here" 7-inch.

Now, I could give their album a good review in appreciation of their lavish generosity and as a quid pro quo for the high praise they have given my radio shows, but instead I'm going to give it an excellent review because it is a great fucking record. Period.

An instant classic, in fact.

(Unlike this review - apologies for writing it 11 months after the release of Chocolate Hearts, but, hey, better late than never, right?)

The album hits the ground running with the opening number, "Greyhounds," a raucous blaster of ferocious intensity, followed up by the title track, another, even better, slab of godlike garage rock. Recorded back in the good ol' U.S. of A, the record has added extra doses of raw power to the sound forged on their more English-sounding first record.

Other highlights include the kick-ass punker "Bomp Bomp Bomp," which opens with the spoken line, "Lookit them acid-washed girls over there," before kicking out the jams in the old school fashion; the epic "Yer Old Eyes," and the closing track, "Cazzy," which can also be found on the Psychedelica Volume 1 compilation on the UK Northern Star label.

The Hiss vary the palette with acoustic pieces ("Living Proof") and even some alt-country ("Straight Though the Heart"), but the band's rock 'n roll heart carries the day. They ain't reinventing the wheel here, but they are rolling and rocking it better than the mass of indie bands on the scene. I realized the marketplace is crowded as hell, but you all ought to seek out this record and give the Hiss some love. If you share my taste for the genuinely rocking, you'll no doubt leave Chocolate Hearts on your turntable for multiple spins, or in your car's CD player for miles and miles and miles. Oh yeah...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Buddy Rubbish Dead at 57

Just heard this bit of bad news from Brian Anastasi:
Western Mass. radio legend "Buddy Rubbish", whose real name was Louis
Roscher, passed away last Friday night, April 11th. He died of a brain
aneurysm at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. Buddy was best
known for hosting "The Oldy Show" on WRSI-FM, back in the days when
it was at 95.3 FM and had studios over the Rite Aid drug store in

Every Friday and Saturday night, Buddy and his friend "Bobby Darling",
whose real name is Joe Leda, would get to the station an hour before
the show began and spend the hour writing comedy routines.

Once the show started, people who were downtown could pull into the
alleyway next to the drug store, which he called "Memory Lane", and
honk their horns. Bobby would hang a mic down to the people who got
out of their vehicles and interview them on the air and play their
request. He would also give them free 45's by tossing them out the

I (in the persona of Mal Thursday) had the difficult task of stepping
into Buddy's shoes as host of "The Oldy Show" on WRSI from 1990 to 1993,
I carried on the tradition of Memory Lane and personality-driven
rock n' roll
radio. I later worked with Buddy on several of the annual
"Transperformance" concerts at Look Park in Northampton.

Buddy later went on to be the morning host at WRNX-FM back when it was
in Amherst. In fact, he was that station's first morning host when it
first signed on the air. Buddy later went on to be the morning host at
WPVQ-FM in Turner's Falls.

Louis Roscher was born in Long Island, New York in 1952, and moved to
the Pioneer Valley in the late 1970s. He was divorced and leaves behind
two young children. Although no formal funeral service is planned, a
celebration of his life is planned for Sunday, May 18th, probably at the
Northampton Center for the Arts.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Mal Thursday Show #4

Songs the Lyres Taught Us, Volume One

A collection of vintage '60s nuggets covered over the years by Boston's longest-running garage band, the Lyres, led by Jeff "Monoman" Conolly. A couple of these date back to Jeff's days in the legendary DMZ, but all of 'em have been heard at one time or another at various Lyres shows dating back to 1979.

This episode was inspired by Crypt's boss Lyres comp "The Early Years," which if you ain't got, you need to get.

Presented in mono, of course.

Download it now at


LYRES: Baby (I Still Want Your Lovin')
THE YO-YOS: Gonna Find a New Love
THE LIVING ENDS: Self-Centered Girl
THE ROADRUNNERS: I'll Make It Up to You
THE SCAVENGERS: But If You're Happy
THE SYN: Grounded
THE ALARM CLOCKS: No Reason to Complain
THE SONICS: Cinderella
THE HANGMEN: What a Girl Can't Do
LYRES: The Way I Feel About You (Live WERS-FM '83)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Florida Rocks Again! Hall of Fame Vol. II


Saturday April 12th from 8 to 10 p.m.

Listen via Live365 at TheBlizzard.US



Let the Good Times Roll/St. Pete Florida Blues/It Should Have Been Me/Lonely Avenue/Hallelujah I Love Her So/Ain't That Love



ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND: I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town


The Nighttime is the Right Time/I Believe to My Soul/I'm Movin' On/Hit the Road, Jack/Hard Times

THE TROPICS: I Want More/For a Long Time/Time/Tired of Waiting/Still Get a Chill/Summertime Blues

INTERNATIONAL SUBMARINE BAND: Sum Up Broke/One Day Week/Strong Boy/Luxury Liner/I Must Be Somebody Else You've Known/Do You Know How It Feels to Be Lonesome

The Songs of Fred Neil:


THE FABS: That's the Bag I'm In

GRAM PARSONS: The Other Side of This Life

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE: The Other Side of This Life

NILSSON: Everybody's Talking

Series Hosted by Mal Thursday

Written and Produced by JM Dobies

Co-Produced by Jeff Lemlich

Sponsored by Flagler County Heating and Air Conditioning

Another, entirely different Florida Rocks Again! Hall of Fame edition featuring Hoyt Axton, the Allman Joys, and the Nightcrawlers, is available for download at

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Limestone Lounge

Just a quick plug for The Limestone Lounge Florida Music Message Board, where you can discuss Florida-related rock n' roll, soul, funk, punk, and other styles from the '50s to the present.

There's also a section for Band Reunions, like the upcoming Geezerpalooza 2008 featuring the Birdwatchers, Steve Alaimo, the Montells, Dr. T & the Undertakers, the Dead End Kids, and Geekus, hosted by Rick Shaw, being for the benefit of the Majic Children's Fund.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Zappa v. Germans


Frank Zappa's widow is trying to stop a German fan club from using the Grammy-winning rocker's name for its annual "Zappanale" festival.

Gail Zappa says the German-based Arf Society's use of Zappa's name and an accompanying logo infringe on trademarks held by the Zappa Family Trust. The logo features a prominent mustache similar to that sported by the legendary musician.

The Arf Society says the trust has been aware of its use of the name since the festival was launched in 1998.

A state court in Duesseldorf began hearing the case Wednesday.

I can only imagine that the "Zappanale" features a lot of drinking and drug-taking, things of which Frank Zappa took a dim view when he still walked the earth.

Which reminds me of a time back in the late '80s at my alma mater, Hampshire College. I was friends with a guy named Sam Dylan, playing with him in the short-lived industrial Doors tribute band Crystal Shit. Sam was also the son of Bob, and greatly resembled his father circa The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.

Anyway, one weekend, one of the "mods" (student housing units) at Hampshire threw a Blonde on Blonde party, which consisted of listening to the Dylan album with the CD player on "repeat" while the students proceeded to get thoroughly trashed. Everybody must get stoned, after all. Sam showed up sometime around midnight, looked around, and appeared bemused at the scene before him. He slipped quietly away.

I can only imagine what he was thinking.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Florida Rocks Again!: Baby


Saturday April 5th
from 8 to 10 pm ET

Wednesday April 9th
from 6 to 8 pm ET

on WFBO Oldies 97.7
The Blizzard, Flagler Beach

Listen via Live365 at


THE PIGEONS: Stick In My Corner, Baby
GREGG ALLMAN: Are You Lonely for Me, Baby
THE NIGHTCRAWLERS: Oh Baby (We Got a Good Thing Going)
THE ROYAL GUARDSMEN: Cry Like a Baby/Baby Let's Wait
TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS: My Baby's a Rock & Roller

May I Baby/Hold It, Baby/When Something is Wrong with My Baby
HELENE SMITH: Wrong or Right He's My Baby
CLARENCE REID: Nobody But You Babe
BETTY WRIGHT: The Baby Sitter

THE MOR-LOKS: What My Baby Wants
TEDDY BEARS: Baby You Go Around
ORANGE PINEAPPLE TREE: Baby You Sure Know How to Do It
THE MAVERICKS: Here Comes My Baby

COWBOY: Hey There Babe
CHARLIE McCOY: My Baby's Back Again
THE 2/3s: 2/3 Baby

FREE FARE: Baby I Love You
JOEY GILMORE: Somebody Done Took My Baby
GEORGE McRAE: Rock Your Baby
MIAMI: You've Come a Long Way, Baby

THE HATE BOMBS: Going Away, Baby
THE BITTER IND: It's All Now, Baby Blue

Series Hosted by Mal Thursday

Written & Produced by JM Dobies

Co-Produced by Jeff Lemlich

Brought to you by Flagler County Heating and Air Conditioning


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Friday Night Lights Back for Season 3

By FRAZIER MOORE, AP Television Writer

"Friday Night Lights" will shine again next season.

The acclaimed football-and-family drama will return on NBC for a third year after the 13 new episodes have aired on satellite-television provider DirecTV, in an unusual deal designed to spread production costs while rekindling a series whose audience until now has been as small as it is fervent.

The series will unfold weekly for DirecTV subscribers beginning Oct. 1. Then, early in 2009, it will be seen on NBC, which made the announcement Wednesday. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Rumors of such a rescue for "Friday Night Lights" began circulating last month, but a final deal wasn't struck between the network, studio, producers and satellite service until this week, the participants said Tuesday. They agreed that negotiations were driven by a shared mission to give the series renewed life.

Executive producer Jason Katims recalled that, four or five weeks ago, network and studio bosses vowed "to figure out a way to keep this show on the air, despite all the challenges of justifying it from a business standpoint."

"And here we are," Katims said. "They did it."

"There is such a passion for this show among its viewers," said NBC entertainment chief Ben Silverman, "and although you would hope that passion would have manifested itself in higher ratings," the new arrangement allows NBC "to have this jewel of a show and not even need to expand its audience to succeed on a financial basis."

Of course, hopes are high the audience will expand. (In its now-concluded second season, the show averaged just 6.2 million viewers, tying it for 117th place in network prime time.)

Premiering each episode for DirecTV's subscriber base of 16.8 million shouldn't hurt the series' prospects among NBC's much larger universe of viewers, Silverman said. And with DirecTV mounting an aggressive marketing campaign of its own, heightened public awareness of the series might carry over, drawing a larger audience for its later NBC run.

The deal was first discussed in January when Silverman and Eric Shanks, DirecTV vice president of entertainment, met up at the Sundance Film Festival.

"I'm a fan of the show," Shanks said, "and that was one reason why I was happy to be in a position to help it continue." And he had done business with Universal Media Studios, the network's production arm. A year ago, he acquired "Passions" for an exclusive season-long run after that daytime drama was canceled by NBC.

"Friday Night Lights" will be available to DirecTV subscribers on its entertainment channel, The 101. And while the deal is for one year only, both Silverman and Shanks said it might extend go that.

"I'm so enamored with the quality of the product that I really haven't set any particular ratings goals or subscriber goals for it," Shanks said.

Filmed in Austin, the series depicts a small Texas town unified by its high school football team, the Dillon Panthers. Kyle Chandler heads up the large ensemble cast as Coach Eric Taylor, whose never-say-die spirit seems to have served the series well since it premiered in September 2006 to ecstatic reviews but lackluster numbers. Despite its acclaim (including a Peabody award), an active fan community and continued expressions of support by NBC, the show seemed to live from week to week.

Until now.

"It's really reassuring to have a known quantity of episodes, and not have any question marks," said Katims, who now has a guaranteed season with which to work. "I think that will really energize our storytelling. I'm hoping to get the writers into a room within the next 48 hours." Production should resume in July.

But that will only be the start, said Katherine Pope, president of Universal Media Studios.

"We aren't just trying to keep the patient on life support for another season," she said. "This is about bringing the show to the next level, in quality and acceptance. This is about exploding the show! You think the show has been brilliant these past two seasons? This is going to be the best season yet!"

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My Baseball Picks for '08

Baseball has always been my game. I grew up playing it, and my father used to take me to games at Montreal's Jarry Parc, where I got to see the likes of Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays (not to mention Le Grande Orange, Rusty Staub) up close and personal.

Forty years on, I've seen my team get moved to Washington, D.C., and the game hijacked by steroid-abusing Michelin men and Big-Market billionaires, so I'm not the rabid fan I once was. However, I still get a thrill when opening day rolls around. Especially when the Braves lose in dramatic fashion as they did on Sunday versus the Nationals. And then lose again the following night vs. the Pirates.

Now that the Expos are no more, I haven't transferred my loyalty to the Nats. My default favorite team is probably the Cubs, and whoever happens to be playing Atlanta.

Here are my picks for 2008:

New York Mets

Chicago Cubs
St. Louis

San Diego
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco

New York
Tampa Bay

Chicago White Sox
Kansas City

L.A. Angels

NL MVP: Johan Santana, NY Mets
AL MVP: Manny Ramirez, Boston

NL Cy Young: Johan Santana, NY Mets
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Detroit

NL Manager of the Year: Joe Torre, L.A. Dodgers
AL Manager of the Year: Mike Scioscia, LA Angels

NL Rookie of the Year: Kosuke Fukudome (a/k/a "Fuck-You Do-Me"), Chicago Cubs
AL Rookie of the Year: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay

World Series:
Cubs beat Cleveland in 7