Easter Everywhere (1967): Amplified jug with everything!

taken verbatim from www.geocities.com/slangrock/eastereverywhere.html

click to more Tommy hall What is the amplified jug, you may well ask ? Well, one of the Elevators was Tommy Hall. Tommy Hall bought two things to the band. As a kind of "spiritual inspiration" he was a great influence on the spaciness of the lyrics. But he had to play an instrument too. And that instrument was… the amplified jug. So, apparently he blew into this jug, and there was a microphone taped to it and it made this ascending and descending popping sound that can be heard on most of the elevators' tracks. How could he manage to play this thing? Beats me. I've read that it was Tommy's voice, as much as the resonance of the jug, that created the sound. I've also heard that the jug was supposedly where Tommy's drugs were stashed (he was main drug man). However this might be pure myth. After all, there wouldn't be much of a resonance if the jug was filled with drugs, now would there ? I've also read that Tommy was inspired by John Coltrane when he played his jug. Hmmmm. That seems to be pushing it a bit far to me.

So, the 'vators were the only band to use this novelty. And boy, did they use it… They used it where it was appropriate (like in "You're gonna Miss me" where its manicness complements the song well) but also where it could only be perceived as a pain in the ass (what's that annoying popping sound? Oh yeah, Tommy hall and his amplified jug).

I mean, let's face it, Tommy may have been influenced by John Coltrane, but there wasn't exactly that much variety to his jug playing. OK, so I may be an "unbeliever", maybe you think I didn't get "what they were trying to do". So I'll cool it and try and close the debate on the "amplified jug" by some consensual comment so as not to annoy any die-hard fans who just might chance upon my web-page. Ok, so sometimes the jug really complements the music. It's an added extra that gives a little more spice and mystery. At other times, on many of the songs on Easter Everywhere, it contributes to the building of a kind of sonic ambience, a whirling, thick sonic entity with which Roky can perform. At other times…well, it's a bit of a pain.

But, jug aside, what can be said about "Easter Everywhere"? It's a lot mellower than "The Psychedelic Sounds of…", that's for sure. This would tend to indicate that it was very much in the budding "hippie" scene of the time. And in a way, it is. There is a mellow, laid-back aspect contributed by that specific, thick, distorted, wild guitar sound. That mellow, "acid" guitar. Something happy, but also something deep and at times deranged, something that would later become the trademark of a whole batch of Californian rock. But at the same time, there are no guitar "histrionics" here. No great Jorma Kaukonen riffs or solos. The acid guitar is used almost sparingly. A few touches of colour, here and there, to complete the picture, to paint a mood. Nothing excessive. No virtuoso displays. So, although the album is a psychedelic pioneer, it can't be confined to the "psychedelic genre". There's a wealth of musical tradition in there and Roky demonstrates a variety of vocal styles. One thing Roky does well are basic rockers. The primary force of rock'n'roll channelled into Elevators style. "Levitation" is a good one. A raunchy rocker, clanging guitar and screamed and soulful delivery by Roky. But for one thing, the subject matter is a far cry from original rock'n'roll as is the sonic treatment of the song, for that matter. The way the band make it into something spaced out, the echo on it, the sound-layering giving that overall wild effect.

The band do this many a time, on "Easter". They take a basic, rock'n'roll starting block and move from there into a totally psychedelic experience.

"Pictures (leave your body behind)" has a simple, basic rock line, moving back and forth in bluesy manner. The band take this and build their own sonic environment around it.

Similarly "slide machine" has a kind of lazy, bluesy side to it. The band maintain that bluesy feel while adding psychedelia: bursts of flamboyant guitar, echo, amplified jug…

"She lives (in a time of her own)" contains some basic rock'n'roll riffs. The 'vators manage to preserve this rockiness while moving the song into a mellow, spaced-out and ethereal territory.

It's interesting to see what the band does to Dylan's "Baby Blue". It's a laid-back, lazy version of the song. When I say "lazy", I don't mean it in a negative sense, rather in a "wow, cool" spaced-out sense. The guitar creates an atmosphere on this one. Guitar parts echoing into one another. Long, sustained notes. Voluntarily messy and a tad disharmonic at times. The painting of a mood, a sonic environment.

One of the songs is a bit different. They lay off all the layering, echo and so forth and do a bit of a "straight" number. A folk number, with mouth organ and female backing vocals: "I had to tell you". On this number Roky's voice is sweet and gentle, sincere and heartfelt. At the same time the song doesn't possess the sonic complexity that characterises the rest of the album.

Often, Roky's voice is the most impressive part of the album. It often carries the melody and carries the song through. Roky's voice gives coherence to the opening epic poem "slip inside this house". Sometimes it is plaintive and nasal, at other times expresses need, desire and desperation as in the repeated chorus of "slide machine": "trying to, trying to, trying to get back to you…"

"Earthquake" moves in unexpected directions. The song is a bizarre sonic tableau and Roky's voice takes on new challenges. Amongst the echo, the reverb and the cascading tones, Roky screams with desire. You can see where Robert plant got his inspiration.

"Dust" is a beautiful song carried along by the vocal, although slightly marred by "the jug". The voice moves from sincere, open desolation to the expression of a soulful need, a desire. Roky lays on the words "As I love you" like a kind of mantra. Like a charm, like an incantation.

"Pictures (leave your body behind)" is articulated like a long jam during which to express oneself. Roky complies and is often seen to push his voice to it's soulful limits. Again he shines through as the genuine article, the guy Robert plant ripped off.



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