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Roky Erickson - Don't Slander Me 2LP
Light in the Attic Records
Don't Slander Me is a fortunate rarity among Roky Erickson's solo albums -- it actually captures the man playing with a tight and emphatic rock & roll band, and was recorded in a quality recording studio with a competent engineer at the board, and given the amount of shoddy semi-bootleg Erickson releases that have oozed into the market over the years, this alone makes it worth a listen. Even better, Don't Slander Me is one of Erickson's strongest rock albums, with his voice sharp as a switchblade and his rhythm guitar work clicking perfectly with Duane Aslaksen's fierce leads and Billy Miller's gloriously eccentric autoharp patterns. (Former Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady is also on board, helping to anchor the rhythm section.) While many of the songs on Don't Slander Me popped up before (and since) throughout Erickson's recording career, the versions here are focused and passionate (especially "Bermuda," "Can't Be Brought Down," and the storming title cut), and while Erickson and his band were obviously in a hot-wired frame of mind when they recorded this material, "You Drive Me Crazy," "Starry Eyes," and "Nothing in Return" prove they could shine just as brightly on less hard-edged material. While Erickson was at the height of his legendary eccentricity when Don't Slander Me was recorded, this album sounds passionate, focused, and coherent on all tracks, and if his lyrical bent is a bit strange here, at least he can convince listeners that his madness is more than just a pose.