13th Floor Elevators
The context: Coming out of Texas, far outside the acknowledged countercultural hotbeds of the time, 13th Floor Elevators released one of the first and best psychedelic-rock albums, The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators, in 1966. Filled with strange, druggy garage rock distinguished by Roky Erickson's desperate vocals and Tommy Hall's bubbly electric jug, Psychedelic Sounds spawned a minor hit, "You're Gonna Miss Me," that paved the way for an even weirder second album, Easter Everywhere.
The greatness: In 1967, psychedelia went mainstream with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and hit singles like the Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit." But while most rock bands that year were content to simply talk about chemicals, 13th Floor Elevators expressed the drug experience in purely musical terms. The result was far removed from the Day-Glo kiddie music of The Beatles. Produced by Kenny Rogers' brother Leland, Easter Everywhere sounds like it was recorded underwater, with endlessly soloing guitars, a rudimentary rhythm section, and haunting vocals by Erickson—and occasionally guitarist Stacy Sutherland—flowing in and out of the mix. A stone sober teetotaler looking to get altered should look no further than the album's eight-minute opening track "Slip Inside This House"; the slow suffocation of foreboding trippiness permeating the record will scare anybody straight.
Defining song: "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" is one of Bob Dylan's most-covered songs, but the best version is by the Elevators, who turn Dylan's apocalyptic ballad into a gorgeous crawl that settles in like smoke on a bombed-out landscape.