Slip Inside This House: MP3s from Thirteenth Floor Elevators and The Chaparral Trio

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Thirteenth Floor Elevators

, "Baby Blue"

Yes, I’m well aware that the Thirteenth Floor Elevators were not Houstonians. The band many claim was the first to use the descriptive term “psychedelic” for its music was based in Austin; a few members moved there from the small Hill Country town of Kerrville. But Houston holds a very fair stake in the band’s existence.

Save a few posthumous releases, the Elevators' entire output came out on Lelan Rogers’ (brother of Kenny) Houston-based International Artists label. The Elevators recorded in Houston often, including this dreamy take on Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” done at Walt Andrus’ Andrus Studios.

You can also find this cut on the Elevators' standout 1967 LP Easter Everywhere, one of the finest psychedelic albums ever recorded. If you want to learn more about the group, try reading Paul Drummond's 2007 book Eye Mind: The Saga of Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators, the Pioneers of Psychedelic Sound, or rent the DVD of Kevin McAlester's 2005 documentary You're Gonna Miss Me: A Film About Roky Erickson.

The Chaparral Trio, "Roxanne"

I can promise you this somewhat mysterious single has nothing to do with the Police song, and the label has no affiliation with the bohemian downtown bar that shares its name. The Chaparral Trio consisted of three local brothers; I assume one of them is George Hill IV, listed as the author of both "Roxanne" and its A-side, “Without You.”

A heavy, fuzz-laden workout with a nice brotherly three-part chorus, "Roxanne" was thankfully not the Trio's only cut. At one point the Trio apparently signed to and recorded for International Artists, though Rogers' label never released any albums or singles. Its song “I Tried So Hard” finally saw the light of day when postmortem IA retrospective compilation An Epitaph for a Legend was released in 1980.

Unfortunately for collectors, copies of "Roxanne" are hard to track down, althought the song is also included on the Houston Hallucinations compilation - not quite as rare, though now out of print - on the Texas Archive Recordings label. According to label owners Peter Buesnel and Doug Hanners (who admit the details are fuzzy), only one of the three brothers is still alive, and opened a recording studio in Fredericksburg some time ago.

So if you ever meet a guy named Hill who happens to own a studio in the Hill Country, shake his hand for me and tell him thanks for the music. - Brett Koshkin

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