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Off the Record

Roky Erickson Teams Up with Okkervil River's Will Sheff for Rare Confessional Album

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Tue, Jan 12, 2010 at 11:29 AM
click to enlarge No More Mr. Zombie: Roky Erickson, Unfiltered
  • No More Mr. Zombie: Roky Erickson, Unfiltered

Local label Anti- has been steadily ignoring the prophets of doom who claim that the record industry is dead, quietly building instead a very impressive stable of alterna-classic stars. Anti-'s roster already includes Bob Mould, Tom Waits, Os Mutantes, and Mose Allison, so it doesn't really come as a big surprise that the label has just announced the April 20th release of a new album by the legendary Roky Erickson.

What is surprising is that Roky's new record, entitled True Love Cast Out All Evil , for a change, will not be exploiting the singer's "outsider artist" status. Produced by Okkervil River's Will Sheff (a fellow Texan once Texas resident), the new record (according to the label)

[will move Erickson] into new territory, foregrounding his songwriting skill. In these songs, Erickson addresses his troubled history in his own words, eschewing the metaphors of earlier songs like "I Walked with a Zombie" to speak directly about hardship and the lessons learned from it. Will Sheff's production highlights the songs while interweaving them with found-sound and archival recordings culled from Erickson's home videos and recordings made in the Rusk State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

More on True Love Cast Out All Evil:

"I feel truly lucky that I got to produce this record," Sheff says. "When we started out, I was given sixty unreleased songs to choose from. There were songs written during business setbacks including the Elevators' painful breakup, songs written by Roky while he was incarcerated at Rusk, and a great deal of songs that reminded me of the sense of optimism and romanticism that I think sustained Roky through his worst years and ultimately reunited him, a few years ago, with his son Jegar and his first wife Dana. Because we started with so many songs to choose from, the quality of the material we ended up with was exhilarating. This is not a cynical comeback record, a lukewarm update on an established legacy - these are the best songs Roky has ever written, unreleased due to decades plagued by the kind of personal tragedies that would destroy someone less resilient. This record has been the most challenging and rewarding, thing I've ever worked on, and we in Okkervil River were deeply honored to show up decades later and help Roky carry these wonderful songs over the finish line."

Trailer for You're Gonna Miss Me, the acclaimed documentary on Erickson's famously troubled life:

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