Tuned In, Burnt Out: Psychedelic Sounds on CD-R

Tuned In, Burnt Out: Psychedelic Sounds on CD-R
Illustration By Nathan Jensen

Of the many 13th Floor Elevators-related compilations the Roky Erickson CD Club has lovingly assembled, The High Baptismal Flow, alternately titled How Much Is That Vinyl in the Window?, is the one with the most mass appeal. Unlike the myriad half-baked cash-ins released over the years by various labels, the 2-CD High Baptismal Flow has a manifest purpose. Ripped directly from the original International Artists singles and then cleaned up, disc one is the faithful, chronological documentation of the Elevators/ Erickson's third-eye vision that has been lacking for decades.

The sizzling "You're Gonna Miss Me" from January 1966 kicks off an exhilarating romp through 14 classics and nine extras, raw enough to be potent, but clear enough to bathe in the psychedelic wellspring. Disc two is hit-and-miss, featuring a spotty-sounding Houston show from '66, but an extended jam of "She Lives (In a Time of Her Own)" cooks, and the ensuing session tapes are enchanting.

No Texas Psych aficionado should be without the Golden Dawn's Power Plant album from 1968. Active again after a 30-year hiatus, frontman George Kinney has given the Psych group his blessing to trade CD-Rs of Power Plant, which is all but out-of-print, entangled in a Byzantine labyrinth of legality and licensing.

What did Austin frat-rockers listen to during the Sixties? The Sweetarts were the group of choice from 1966 to 1970, an era compiled on the CD-R Tonight. Happening. Sounds., which packages two 45s with four unreleased tracks and 13 live cuts, nine hosted by the radio station KAZZ-FM, complete with deejay introductions. From Buddy Holly scorchers and organ-pop Nuggets to blue-eyed soul, this album is mostly notable as a fine historical document of an era in Austin's musical history.

Roky's British counterpart Syd Barrett has his own CD-R community, responsible for the meticulous tribute The Laughing Madcaps: Let's Try It Another Way. Unlike most tributes, The Laughing Madcaps explores the different facets of Barrett's own sound and the incoherent nonlogic that made his artistic world turn.

Opening with an "Astronomy Domine" that combines Voivod's hard-hitting approach with the foreboding original, highlights include a straight-up "Arnold Layne"; a glammy, space-rockin' "Interstellar Vegetable Man"; and some true mindbenders in John Cavanaugh's electro-throb reworking of "Rats" and the incoherent lunatic brogue of Cartensis' "Dark Globe." Austin's ST 37 pitch in their no-more-cogent "No Man's Land," sounding like it was recorded many epochs ago.

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