Gremlins Have Pictures
So there I was saying that my pick of the recent reissues was Don’t Slander Me and then I started spending more time with this album – the follow-up to Slander, pieced together when patience was running out on Erickson’s second stab at a “proper” career. His manager had had enough; Roky too was struggling with it all.
So Gremlins Have Pictures is a compilation of all the odds and ends – many of the ends sounding very odd. Erickson recorded several of these performances following his extended stay at the Rusk State Hospital. Released from the institution in 1974 he formed The Aliens and set about to pick up where the Elevators stopped. There’s a live performance from when Roky was the opening act for a screening of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, there are several tracks recorded at The Ritz Theatre in 1975 and then there are cuts from his time fronting The Explosives in the late 1970s. There are even some off-cuts from Don’t Slander Me. So it’s very bits-n-pieces but the best stuff here is revelatory – even in and around the mess, the haze, the fuzziness of thought.
Anthem (I Promise) seems to bridge a gap between Neil Young and Frank Black. Didn’t know that there was a link? Check this song out – actually, wouldn’t hurt Frank Black to check this song out!
There are some workmanlike moments, such as the obvious purloining of Sweet Jane’s riff for The Interpreter (actually, is that some meta-joke?) and then later a cover of the VU’s Heroin in which Roky gives the lyric a great rock’n’roll vocal. An acoustic I Have Always Been Here Before is sweet, and the messy-fuzz of Bermuda is strangely hypnotic, the guitar line winding itself around the song.
A short demo of Burn The Flames hints at that song’s power and charm, as does I’m A Demon – Roky in fine voice.
It’s a strange world to enter into – sure. But the best stuff here, in and around all the mess – and often because of that mess – might be strangely unsettling at times, but it’s great music, from a great, if troubled, musical mind.