(The Red Crayola - left the earth plane a very long time ago)
(if it didn't suck out there, believe me I wouldn't be asking
For months I've been playing examples of 60's psyche by way of the UK, with occasional nods to other parts of Europe, but never actually paying any sort of attention to what was that hotbed of hardcore psychedelia, Texas. Yes, Texas, where much is strange now but back at the dawning of the Psychedelic era there was almost as much insanity going on as there was in the Bay Area of San Francisco.
Most of it had to do with a small record company, International Artists run by Leland Rogers (brother of Kenny Rogers . . seriously!). International Artists was the home of such bands as 13th Floor Elevators, Bubble Puppy, Moving Sidewalks, Endle St. Cloud and several others.
Red Crayola began in 1966 and consisted of art school students Mayo Thompson, Frederick Barthelme and Steve Cunningham. Their first album Parable of Arable Land, released in 1967 features a number of label mates joining in, including Roky Erickson from 13th Floor Elevators playing organ on tonight's track, Hurricane Fighter Plane. The album was a milestone in the lexicon of psychedelic free-form/noise rock and probably the first to go to such extremes on vinyl so early on.
Needless to say, Parable Of Arable Land wasn't a commercial success, but it did pave the way for a lot of bands who were familiar with them to stretch their own abilities and embrace free-form. The album has since gone on to legend status and the band (or at least the Mayo Thompson portion of it) is still together, performing as Red Krayola (a spelling of their name they adopted back in 1968 but made official in the 1980's).
The Red Crayola had no pretenses about being musically proficient. Mayo Thompson was a visual artist and the music sort of came along for the ride. But that it was so drenched in experimentation and electronic manipulation it actually took the psych form to new places. And that said something about what the possibilities were if you let things achieve a certain level of madness and just let the tape machines run.