Like finding a long-lost treasure chest brimming with untold fortunes, I Have Always Been Here Before: The Roky Erickson Anthology unearths the ingenuity of the dramatic singer and songwriter whose music, passion and profound originality fueled nearly four decades of incredible work. With a ferocious voice offset only by his musical blend of sweet country, pop, rock ’n’ roll and psychedelia, I Have Always Been Here Before is both inspiring and heartbreaking.
The two-CD set is a long-overdue career testimonial of one of the most brilliant minds in contemporary rock. Sometimes credited with creating psychedelic music, Erickson’s first band, the 13th Floor Elevators, stunned audiences with their magic carpet ride-like concerts during the mid-1960s. Shortly after the 1966 release of their hit single, “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” Roky entered the Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Rusk, TX under an insanity plea for a minor drug arrest.
After three years at the hospital, Roky’s life was irreparably altered. In a tragic twist of irony, his psychological change brought a new level of creative brilliance to his work, and his psychedelic, lyrically fantastic music became a bird’s eye view into his new life. Over time, Roky’s iconic status grew, and some of the greatest musicians in rock became his most ardent followers.
In 1990, an unlikely assortment of music’s most talented artists joined together to record his songs for the tribute album, Where The Pyramid Meets The Eye: A Tribute To Roky Erickson. REM, Julian Cope, T. Bone Burnett, The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Butthole Surfers declared their love for the idiosyncratic songwriter by happily tackling his songs about Satan and horror films, zombies and mounting paranoia. On I Have Always Been Here Before, Shout! Factory has assembled 45 songs from his repertoire, spanning 30 years (1965-1995) and making it the only comprehensive collection of his work to date. Recordings with The Spades, the 13th Floor Elevators, and as a solo artist veer from the indie-rock “Starry Eyes” to punk-rock-meets-Little-Richard “Don’t Slander Me” to the beleaguered “I Think of Demons,” but the genius of Erickson’s songwriting remains the star.