Big Star frontman Alex Chilton sadly passed away in 2010, but not before recording three awesome album with Big Star, producing The Cramps’ debut and paving the way for much of the indie/alternative music of the last thirty years. Seminal is probably an overused word (and I’m probably as guilty of that as the next blogger), but it really applies here.
October 14 sees the release of Electricity By Candlelight, a live album recorded at New York’s Knitting Factory in February 1997. According to the press release ‘The album is a really intimate affair, the power failed at the show early on and the club announced the gig was cancelled. Refunds were given out and the majority of folk started to leave. A few hardcore fans stayed behind, as did Chilton himself, he borrowed an acoustic guitar from an audience member and began to stum, what resulted was over an hour of etheral music, played in the darkness, thinking on his feet, interacting with his fans – lucky it was all caught by super fan Jeff Vargon who was in the crowd with his tape deck and mic!’
The tracklisting for the album is as follows:
‘Step Right This Way’
‘Let’s Get Lost’
‘Raining In My Heart’
‘Girl From Ipanema’
‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’
‘Someone To Watch Over Me’
‘Footprints In The Snow’
‘Case Of You’
‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’
‘I Walk The Line’
‘If I Had A Hammer’
‘You Can Bet Your Heart On Me’
The soundlcoud link below reveals that it’s raw and intimate on four of the songs offered to us as a sampler: ‘I Walk The Line,’ ‘Motel Blues,’ ‘Someone to watch over me’ and ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice?’
2010 is becoming a really awful year for musicians dying. Alex Chilton, front man of Big Star and record producer of the Cramps’ Songs The Lord Taught Us has died of heart complications, aged 59.
Though first making his name with the Box Tops, it was with Big Star, formed with the talented and tormented Chris Bell that Chilton really made his mark on history. In the first part of the seventies, they released three outsanding albums #1 Record, Radio City and best of all, Third/Sister Lovers. A major influence on R.E.M. and Teenage Fanclub, the band was covered by the likes of The Bangles (‘September Gurls’), Teenage Fanclub (‘Jesus Christ), Elliott Smith (‘Thirteen’) and This Mortal Coil (‘Kangaroo’ and ‘Holocaust’) [Bell’s ‘You and Your Sister’ and ‘I Am the Cosmos’ would also be covered by This Mortal Coil]. Though the band never had major commercial success in their lifetime, the wealth of artists lining up to pay tribute to them hopefully eased some of the pain. In 2000, NME writers voted Third/Sister Lovers the no.1 heartbreak album of all time, ahead of albums by the likes of Joy Division, Mogwai and The Cure.
After Big Star split, Bell sadly died in 1978 and Chilton continued with an erratic solo career. He went into production, most famously producing the songs that would make up the Cramps’ Gravest Hits EP and their debut Songs The Lord Taught Us. Rather like many cult artists in the pre-internet age, as with Daniel Johnston or Nick Drake, their profile grew by being covered and name-checked by other artists.
Rest In Peace, Good Sir. Seriously; check out the three Big Star albums. Your record collection is the poorer without them.
Big Star -‘Holocaust.’ mp3
Big Star -‘Kangaroo.’ mp3
This Mortal Coil -‘Holocaust.’ mp3
The Cramps -‘Human Fly.’ mp3