The JudyBats / The 13th Floor Elevators: “She Lives (in a Time of Her Own)”
The Judybats (1990)
The 13th Floor Elevators (1967)
Today’s selection for Cover Friday bears a strong thematic resemblance to last week’s Balancing Act cover of Captain Beefheart. Once again, a fairly obscure band from the late ’80s (well, very late ’80s: their first album came out in 1990) covers an eccentric, cult artist from the ’60s. In this case, though, the eccentric artist, Roky Erickson, leader and songwriter for the 13th Floor Elevators, was actually more than that: he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic in the midst of the Elevators’ existence, and proceeded to spend years in and out of mental institutions, receiving electric shock therapy and developing all sorts of unhealthy obsessions (see the Roky Erickson documentary, You’re Gonna Miss Me, for all the sad details). Their version of “She Lives” was released on their 1967 album, Easter Everywhere.
The part of the obscure band ’90s band is played this week by the JudyBats, who were around for just a few years in the early ’90s. Their version of “She Lives (in a Time of Her Own)” appears on their 1990 debut album, Native Son (sort of a funny inadvertent coincidence, now that I write that, because I just featured a song from the Long Ryders’ Native Sons album a couple of days ago). Their cover does a great job of “cleaning up” the acoustics of the song without losing its original energy. In the place of the 13th Floor Elevators’ crazed “electric jug” (a frequent element in their songs, it is indeed a guy blowing into a jug — listen for it wub-wub-wubbling its way throughout the original, in the background), the JudyBats use a fast-strummed acoustic guitar that achieves something like the same effect. It builds to a frantic cacophony that helps to revive the heart of Roky Erickson’s more manic and off-kilter original. Nothing beats honest-to-goodness mental affliction for authentic rock ‘n’ roll mania — but I wouldn’t recommend it as a career path.