I Have Always Been Here Before: The Roky Erickson Anthology ****
A year before the summer of love hit California, a band called the 13th Floor Elevators -- led by charismatic singer and guitarist Roky Erickson -- was brewing up something wicked down in Austin, Texas. The Elevators' spine-tingling, heart-pounding four-chord rock 'n' roll represented, in many ways, the antithesis of flower power -- and also provided the seeds of punk. Erickson transposed acid visions into songs punctuated by his sinister, bluesy vocal delivery and unearthly howls. The thrill of listening to a garage-psyche Erickson classic like "You're Gonna Miss Me" is undiminished by time -- there has never been anyone in rock quite like him.
The good people of Shout! Factory have just released a new, fully authorized anthology of Erickson's output, covering each incarnation of his influential and very strange 40-year career. This two-disc set collects 43 tracks -- from his early recordings with the Spades and the Elevators through more recent work with the Aliens and as a solo artist -- along with a lovingly annotated 32-page color booklet. -- Mike Corrigan
The Classical Underground ****
Wind quintets don't have to be staid; sometimes they're subversive. Imani Winds horn player Jeff Scott, for example, has arranged "Afro," the final movement of Cuban composer Paquito D'Rivera's Aires Tropicales (1994), adding a mysterious introduction with chimes, bongos, rattles and moans to the flute trills and bassoon ostinato, reinterpreting "what is on the page." On flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and French horn, the five wind players of Imani -- it means "faith" in Swahili -- aim to create "urban classical music," and certainly their reading of Aires is less traditional than those of the Aspen and Dorian quintets.
For The Classical Underground, flutist Valerie Coleman has composed an Afro-Cuban Concerto for Wind Quintet that concludes with a galloping "Danza." Scott's arrangement of Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla's "Liber Tango" features clarinet pulses and horn shouts; he even layers R & amp;B rhythms into his "Homage to Duke."
If you've lost hope that there's anything new under the classical sun, these winds will help you keep the Imani. -- Michael Bowen