The 13th Floor Elevators were seen as oddball one-hit wonders in most of the United States during their glory days from 1966 to 1968, but they were heroes (at least for a while) in their native Texas, and plenty of psychedelic acolytes from the Lone Star State cited them as a major influence. It would be hard to name a band that borrowed more from the Elevators, or did it to better effect, than Austin’s the Golden Dawn, whose debut album, Power Plant, sounds like a folkier companion piece to Easter Everywhere.
Lead vocalist George Kinney was friends with Roky Erickson and they briefly played together in a teenage garage band, and while Kinney lacks Erickson’s feral intensity, his voice bears an uncanny resemblance to the open and quietly passionate tone Erickson was reaching for on songs like “Splash 1” and “Dust.” As a songwriter, Kinney couldn’t quite match the acid-fueled philosophizing of Tommy Hall, but his lyrics are thoughtful and insightful, reaching for something deeper than the “listen to the sound of purple” clichés that dogged many psych band of the era. The opening cut, “Evolution,” uses a set of wind chimes to punctuate the arrangement much in the same way the Elevators used Tommy Hall’s jug, and the lovely melodic sense of “This Way Please” and “Reaching Out to You” recalls the more mellow moments of the Elevators’ folk-influenced numbers. While the Golden Dawncould rock out when they were so inclined on tunes like “Starvation” and “I’ll Be Around,” their approach is informed by a gentleness that sets them apart from their contemporaries — there’s a grace in this music that’s uncommon for any era, and the interplay in the guitar work of Tom Ramsey and Jimmy Bird shows a subtle sophistication that makes Kinney’s melodies all the more compelling.
Kinney has frequently told journalists that Power Plant was recorded before Easter Everywhere, and though it’s hard to believe that the Golden Dawn didn’t learn a lot from the 13th Floor Elevators, the music on this album is good enough to insist they weren’t stealing, just following a similar path, and it takes them to a very fine place on Power Plant. Sadly, the Golden Dawn broke up before they could record another LP, but Power Plant shows them to be one of the best bands to emerge from the Texas psychedelic underground during their brief renaissance in 1967 – All Music
Tracklist: Evolution / This Way Please / Starvation / I’ll Be Around / Seeing Is Believing / My Time / A Nice Surprise / Every Day / Tell Me Why / Reaching Out To You
International Artists IA-LP #4