Welcome to Never Ever Land

The rest of Texan Earthquake is a true grab bag. The Emperors' growling opener "I Want My Woman" recalls UK cult heroes the Pretty Things; the Coastliners' "Wonderful You" bears out their "Beach Boys of Texas" reputation; the Chaynes' "Night Time Is the Right Time" carries hints of Irish soul man Van Morrison's first band, Them; and Inner Scene tosses in a stomping version of Led Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown," one of the handful of tracks from IA's posthumous 1980 double-LP anthology Epitaph for a Legend.

Disc Two: Out There! — The Psychedelic Sounds of I.A.

Out There! starts with the bang of Bubble Puppy's Love-like "Hot Smoke and Sassafras," a big enough national hit in 1968 to keep IA going for three more years; the band returns for country-mod mash-up "If I Had a Reason," the even more Who-like "Days of Our Time" and Byrdsian jangle-fest "A Gathering of Promises."

Also stepping to the fore here are the Golden Dawn with the insistent pre-punk of "Starvation" and Raconteurs forerunner "My Time," and the Red Krayola with menacing fuzz bath "War Sucks" and Dylan/acid-rock hybrid "Hurricane Fighter Plane."

Meanwhile, Elevators acolytes Lost and Found — signed as "recently busted teenage drug fiends," according to Lysergia.com editor Patrick Lundborg's liner-note essay — shine on the spastic "When Will You Come Through" and stinging LSD blues "Professor Black," as do Eastward-looking folkies the Rubayyat on "Never Ever Land" and "If I Were a Carpenter."

Wouldn't you know it, though, disc two's most arresting, prescient moment belongs to those darn Elevators on the stuttering rock-steady cut "Scarlet and Gold." "I guess he'll keep standing there until he's called for," sings Erickson about some long-forgotten king, "and tomorrow's hurricanes have blown."

Disc Three: Pot Pourri — Pop and Anything Goes

The unlikely star of Pot Pourri (most definitely two words) turns out to be none other than Third Ward blues legend Lightnin' Hopkins, who apparently would record for anyone who sat him down in front of a microphone. Hopkins's hardscrabble licks were an obvious influence on the Elevators and (though in much more distorted fashion) the Red Krayola, and he shares a fascination with the supernatural with Erickson on "Black Ghost." "Mini Skirt," on the other hand, is Mr. Sam at his most lascivious.

Save, naturally, Erickson — who teams up with Elevators mate Clementine Hall for a couple of acoustic numbers before rejoining the band for prescient closer "May the Circle Remain Unbroken" — none of the other Pot Pourri names are recognizable, which hardly matters. Arnim & Hamilton contribute some classic bubblegum on opener "Pepperman," the Disciples of Shaftesbury channel the Monkees on "Times Gone By" and "My Cup Is Full," and Kathy Clarke's "Little Girl Called Sad" is a dead ringer for another Clark, Petula.

Country even makes a belated appearance on Tom Harvey's "So Ah In Ah Love," as does Motown on Sterling Damon's "My Last Letter." IA's catalog was deep, y'all, and it's all here, essential listening for anyone interested in Texas music history or pop history in general.

So don't wait until the lights go out again to dive into Never Ever Land — if reissue machine Rhino Records has half a brain cell in its West Coast head, it'll pick up the U.S. rights toot-sweet.

Damn That Ike!
Like the rest of the area, some local music venues weathered Ike better than others. Galveston's legendary Balinese Room, the oceanside nightclub and former gambling den that once hosted Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Jack Benny, was completely washed into the surf by Ike's storm surge and is gone, gone, gone. The Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe in the Strand district was likewise heavily damaged, but may yet reopen.

The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion was hit hard enough to force cancellation of last weekend's Santana and 3 Doors Down Shows and this weekend's Robert Plant & Alison Krauss stop, while the Big Top sustained minor flooding and Dan Electro's Guitar Bar lost part of its roof. Also, local sculptor David Adickes's super-size Beatles statues off Washington Avenue — Paul really is dead this time.

So, considering what we've all been through this past week, and how many of our friends and neighbors could use a hand, it's a crying shame no one has begun beating the drum for an all-star hurricane relief concert. You know this would never happen in New Orleans.

So let Noise be the first: Willie Nelson, George Strait, ZZ Top (with special guests Erickson and Edgar and Johnny Winter) and Beyoncé (with, of course, Jay-Z) at Toyota Center. Soon. Let's make it happen, Houston.

chris.gray@houstonpress.com

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