A squealing guitar riff greets the ears upon first playing Evil One, a reissue of two overlapping Roky Erickson and the Aliens albums, I Think Of Demons (1980) and Evil One (1981). Its high pitch certainly grabs your attention before the full band kicks in a few seconds later like an explosion. Guitar, bass and drums, with a small scattering of keys underscore Erickson's wailing vocals throughout this record. For an album that's over 30 years old it's interesting to see that 'Two Headed Dog' still has the same impact it surely had on those who heard it first time around.


Let me tell you a story, a story about one of psychedelic rock music's pioneers. This man saw it all. On a mind melting mixture of LSD, DMT, mescaline and marijuana this man went as high as it was possible to go and inevitably crashed as suddenly as an elephant pushed from an Airbus A380. He formed a seminal 60s rock band at the age of 18, at 19 he'd had a hit record and then two years later was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia resulting in his first visit to a psychiatric hospital where he was subjected to electro-convulsive therapy. Roky Erickson was one of acid rock's true casualties.

It's unsurprising then that Evil One, and the other albums produced by Roky Erickson and The Aliens, have a much harder sound and darker tone than anything put out by 13th Floor Elevators. How much of this was inspired by his time in institutions for the criminally insane, is unclear. It's certainly odd looking back at this collection of 15 songs which pays homage to 60s horror and sci-fi B-movies, knowing that just one year later Erickson would be making headlines, claiming that his body had been inhabited by a Martian. 'Creature With the Atom Brain' takes it's narrative from the 1955 film of the same name, but there is a paranoid edge to its lyrics that hint at a wider issue with Erickson and his dealings with law enforcement prior to recording the album.

Elsewhere there are schlock-horror titles like 'Night Of The Vampire', 'I Walked With A Zombie', and 'Don't Shake Me Lucifer'. As befits the theme there is a certain level of gore to be found, and investigating the lyrics a little deeper reveals disturbing moments such as a line referencing "children nailed to the cross" in 'Two Headed Dog' whilst the menacing 'Bloody Hammer' is one of a few tracks to directly reference doctors and psychiatrists alongside violent action.

And yet the album is ridiculously catchy. As Roky showed back with 13th Floor Elevators, he is capable of creating great hooks, lyrically and musically. The simple call and response of 'I Walked With A Zombie' will be gnawing at your brain for hours afterwards, and every song hits that sweet spot of around 3-4 minutes that leaves you wanting more. The riffs are excellent as well and alternate between heavy strummed chords and melodic passages – the soft, clean guitar on 'I Think of Demons' being a particular favourite of mine. With each listen I was finding new things on this record that drew me in further. This is no doubt partly down to Roky's creative abilities at the time - he may have been post-breakdown, but it was often acknowledged that he was also experiencing a creative rejuvenation too. It is also surely down to Stu Cook's production work. The Creedence Clearwater Revival bassist covered the sessions between 1977 and 79 and even contributed bass to a couple of tracks. The result is an album that has aged well. Each instrument is clearly defined in the mix, with Roky's vocals front and centre and a wealth of musical details scattered throughout, making the record far more complicated than a first listen would suggest.

It's no surprise then that this album is regarded as one of Erickson's finest. It's a shame, however, that it was under-appreciated by the buying public upon its initial release. Hopefully this reissue will go someway to reigniting interest in an artist who has led one of the most interesting and worrying career trajectories in music.