Label: Sonic Cathedral Release date: 07/06/10 Label Site It’s been almost 44 years since the 13th Floor Elevators released their iconic debut, The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators. Since that release back in 1966, the band’s various members broke the band up, received a push thanks to bands like Spacemen 3, and have been recognized as pioneers and major influences. So now another tribute to the band has been released, using more underground artists to bring diversity instead of attention. While tributes like these normally show the flaws of this way of thinking (“Hey, they’re popular! Let’s get bands to cover these songs they wrote out of nowhere!”), The Psychedelic Sounds Of The Sonic Cathedral is a fitting set of tunes that shows the right amount of reverence and skill. Back when the Elevators were a band, their label threw together a live album to cash in on the minor success of their first two discs. It was a terrible affair, full of nonsensical choices both for the songs and sound quality, and remains the lowest ranked album by the band. What a risk to have former front man Roky Erickson open the album, then, with a live version of ‘Roller Coaster.’ Surprisingly, his backing band The Black Angels pulls off the sound of the track beautifully (including the electric jug). Erickson’s voice now has the raw edge of time, and he utilizes his caustic growl to make the tune more of a command to open the doors of perception instead of an invitation. A Place To Bury Strangers are also in fine form, as always, with their version of ‘Tried To Hide.’ Rather than use any part of the original’s percussive backing or stony reverb, the song sounds like a Lustmord remix of something from the Atomizer LP. In place of electric jug, there are moody screeches of ambience courtesy of a possibly E-Bowed guitar, the perfect counter to the steely freakout solo. Hell, every version manages to break free of the sound of the band and make the tunes a new being. Even if it means ditching trademarks like that jug or the driving drums, rarely are there missteps. Le Volume Courbe’s version of ‘I Love The Living You’ remains too minimal to make an impact and wastes Kevin Shields – an offence punishable by death. Similarly, the next song (Black Acid’s version of ‘Unforced Peace) keeps everything too slow to prepare you for the emotionally affecting lurch of ‘Goodbye Sweet Dreams.’ The use and abuse of lo-fi here marks the album as being decidedly closer to the original Psychedelic Sounds album, but often it is used as part of the band’s sound instead of as a crutch or stylistic choice for this album. As a result, it seems like these songs could fit anywhere on a B-sides compilation from any artist. It’s almost fitting that each cover rears its head as a new creature for a tribute to one of the most unique bands of the LSD era. After four albums, three compilations, one box set, and now two tributes, 13th Floor Elevators may have finally been escalated to the status they deserve. And while Sounds Of The Sonic Cathedral may muddle a bit at the end there, it’s finally time to see a well done piece of music for a band that often gets mentioned in interviews but shafted in tribute. Without a version of ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me,’ the disc avoids the pitfalls of being too easy with its choices, and so instead the listener is rewarded with amazing new versions of incredible old songs. I’ll hope for a Volume 2 when Easter Everywhere turns 44 next year. Photobucket