Powell St. John
On My Way to Houston (Tompkins Square)
Reviewed by Austin Powell, Fri., July 31, 2009
Powell St. JohnOn My Way to Houston (Tompkins Square)
Misidentified for his contributions to the 13th Floor Elevators' 1966 debut, The Psychedelic Sounds Of ..., Powell St. John is still out to make a name for himself. The Austin-bred Bay Area dweller's first offering since his 2006 reintroduction, Right Track Now, rekindles the brushfire folklore of his Waller Creek Boys with acoustic instrumental "Jerry Lightfoot," pays tribute to Austin with "Ballad of Travis Rivers," and bares teeth as sharp as Alejandro Escovedo's Real Animal in the vitriolic politics of the title track. The real stunner is the opening, unreleased Roky Erickson barn burner "Hardest Working Man," which howls like one of its creator's 1980s demons over hot flashes of carousel organ and the acid-guitar lunacy of Aliens' Duane Aslaksen. There are a few blunders ("Take That Girl," "I Loved the Way You Played the Piccolo"), but On My Way to Houston is well worth the trip.