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Monday, Sept. 13, 2010

13th Floor Elevators

7th Heaven: Music of the Spheres—The Complete Singles Collection (International Artists)

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The 13th Floor Elevators, one of the earliest and most innovative bands of the psychedelic era, released only three studio albums before dissolving due to drug problems, legal hassles and label mismanagement. But whereas sustained interest has kept those albums available, the singles they spawned (collected here, along with some ultra-rare French stereo mixes) have until now remained hard to find and prohibitively expensive.

Though steeped in the gut-level pleasures of the past (see the sandpaper blues of “Before You Accuse Me”) and the innovations of their contemporaries (their “Baby Blue” is one of the richest Dylan covers ever recorded), each cut displays an unrelenting desire to push things into the future. “Reverbaration (sic) (Doubt)” foresees The Stooges, while “May the Circle Remain Unbroken” seems like a blueprint for shoegaze; but many tracks, like the dizzy “Slip Inside This House,” remain defiantly singular.

The accompanying booklet offers a wealth of record-geek minutiae as well as a few salacious details to round out a package that’s simultaneously a boon to completists and an ideal introduction to the uninitiated.

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