One thing I remember with great fondness during my brief stint in the mid-’80s as a volunteer disc jockey was running across the music of Texas garage band legend Roky Erickson, whose material was going through a bit of a revival. Pink Dust Records put out an album called Don’t Slander Me in 1986, which I played to death in the cassette deck of my Pacer.
Don’t Slander Me is a vocal extravaganza, like virtually everything of Erickson’s. It was recorded several years earlier, after Erickson got out of the mental institutions where he spent much of the ’70s.
The title track, “You Drive Me Crazy”, and “Burn the Flames” — a wild rant that equals Arthur (“I am the God of hellfire!”) Brown’s best — are probably the best-loved by Roky fans, but I’ve always been partial to “Bermuda”, which sets an amazing pace and drives to an exciting, hoarse finish.
Roky Erickson lived on the edge of everything for years, claiming that he was inhabited by a Martian, having trouble getting by on Social Security, until very recently when his brother managed to get guardianship and see that Roky got the treatment he needed.
He’s started performing again the past couple of years, and today a documentary has been released about his story. He’s scheduled to play at Bumbershoot in Seattle and rumor says he’ll be here in Portland for MusicFest NW in September.
The DVD of the documentary is supposed to be here tomorrow.