Modern Lovers

 
 
 
 

The right wrong album

Besides “Some Bright Stars For Queens College”, one of the songs I most wanted to find in my cassette archives was “Roadrunner (Once)”*. I’m not sure when exactly during my sophomore year at SDSU I finally found a Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers album, I’d been reading Robert Hilburn’s ravings in the LA Times and been on the lookout for awhile, but of course I bought the wrong one.
The right one was the John Cale produced debut, The Modern Lovers(1976), which sounds like the Stooges and the Velvet Underground in a blender, sort of, is a certified protopunk classic, and contains some of his best known songs, including “Pablo Picasso”.
The one I bought was the second one, Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers(1976), which featured “Rockin Shopping Center”, “Abominable Snowman in the Market”, “Hey There Little Insect”, “Hi Dear” etc, which sounded nothing like the The Velvets or Stooges, and to my Beatles- Zeppelin-Floyd trained ears, bore little resemblance to Rock N Roll. Remember, I didn’t know what to make of Syd Barrett either.
My first instinct was to hate it, and since I lived in a dorm, peer pressure was strong. With my neighbors blasting Boston and Aerosmith, I felt really embarrassed playing it.
About the same time I noticed the Eno lyric on “Third Uncle”- “We saw the Lovers, The Modern Lovers and they looked very good they looked as if they could”, or something like that.
My freshman year was spent at Cal State Fullerton, where during lunch hour, bands would often play outdoors in the “quad” in front of “the Commons”.
I came to realize later that The Modern Lovers were one of them. They were pretty goofy, yet somehow charming, and I remembered them playing “Roadrunner”.
Like an idiot I got rid of almost all my records in 1990, including a half dozen Jonathan Richman albums.
I bought a Rhino “Best Of” cd as a replacement, but of course it was missing a lot of the best songs. Not included was the Beserkely Chartbuster’s version of “Roadrunner”, which is vastly superior to that on the debut, or “Rockin Shoppin Center”.
I had a really hard time tracking them down. Jonathan’s music goes in and out of print, and gets repackaged in different configurations. The version I was looking for is sometimes called “Roadrunner (once)”, and other times, “Roadrunner (twice)”.
I went so far as to order something on Amazon, but it never arrived.
I spent more time than I like to admit tracking these tunes down.
As great as the debut is, the “uncool” tracks found here are little closer to my heart.
Still, if you’ve never heard it, “Pablo Picasso” is a classic.
My favorite line:
“Pablo Picasso never got called an asshole, not like you”
Interesting that the original band included Jerry Harrison and David Robinson, who went on to play in The Talking Heads, and the Cars, respectively.

For more info, here’s wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Modern_Lovers

Roadrunner (twice?)
Rockin Shoppin Center
The New Teller

from The Modern Lovers

Pablo Picasso

*I never found “Roadrunner”, but a cassette did turn up “Rockin Shoppin Center”, however the mp3 I found, and posted here, sounded slightly better than the dub I made.

Out For Dinner

Front Cover

Lately I’ve been collecting a lot of “out” music. Out of print, and just plain “out there”. I like to listen when I cook, I find that music organizes my mind so I can focus on what I’m doing. I made this compilation for that sole purpose, and dinner specifically, hence Out For Dinner, preferably with a nice glass of beer to help mange your thirst and sense of well being. One consideration is that while doing this I’m not wearing earbuds, which I hate, but filling the whole house with whatever I’m listening to, so I try not alienate my wife and 11 year old daughter with music is too confrontational. When I’m cooking, I tend to gravitate toward contemplative.
Anyway I have a nice selection of tunes for you.

 

This post is a followup to Some Bright Stars For Queens College, as it needed company on the cd it inspired.

Check out the comments.

Back

Burnt Garlic or “kulinary gangsta”?

Celebrity Cracker Advocate

I became aware of his existence last superbowl season and he bugs the shit out of me. He was a talking display hawking his “recipes” and “brand” image for some cracker company. In all the wrong ways a cross between Wolfman Jack and Billy Idol. That look was maybe edgy and shit in 1977, or 1991, but now he looks like a Saturday morning cartoon character.  Like if there was a “Stinky” on Scoobee Doo.
To be more specific, this fu*ktard has co-opted every post WWII element of so-called hipster cool and blender-ed them  into a grotesque caricature, so repellent that it really calls into question whether any hip affectations were ever cool. The answer is probably not. It’s like a Les Paul with a flame job and dice for knobs. And little skulls for dots. In a crushed purple velvet tuck and roll faux alligator case. Something that would mostly attract those with more interest in image than substance. Or some CEO who didn’t play, but wanted a guitar like Slash, only even cooler.

 

I’m sorry I couldn’t let it go.  I had to say something.

Some Bright Stars For Queens College

 

The culprit

Two weeks before I built it, I said for the benefit of everyone else in the room as they unpacked their effects pedalboards, that I’d never use one. I thought of myself as some sort of guitar purist. I was into my guitar, it’s pickups, and a cord plugged straight into a tube amp. At the same time I was playing bass in another band and in order to have more colors in my pallette, I’d started to bring the analog delay and tremelo pedals, and of course all the wall warts, patch cords, and irritating set-up that go with them.  It flew in the face of my of my plan to keep things as simple as possible.  Also we moved from one rehearsal room into another and in the process, I found, in a milk crate full of unloved pedals, a Electro Harmonix Micro Synthesizer.

That night I was playing synthetic beats and thought it would be interesting to hear them squashed through it (true).  It was these and other convergences that inspired me to build my pedal board which I no longer know how I lived without.  I run everything through it.  It’s great, it fits in a hard shell case.  I pull it out, plug it in, and I’m ready to go, tuner on and everything.  The hard shell case had been in my basement storing a discarded cassette machine, next to an old suitcase filled with tapes I’d often thought of getting rid of as I had no plans of going back to them, except occasionally to archive something I couldn’t find anywhere else.  A few of my posts feature these digitized recordings.

So the cassette machine, naked, went back down to the basement and my painting studio, where I have a pretty awesome stereo.  I had been listening to NPR or my mp3 player.  I got the bright idea of hooking up the tape machine.  I opened the suitcase which held almost 300 tapes, some dating back to the late ’70′s, and others as recent as 2001.

It turned out to be a great idea, the cassettes sound good , and a reminder that the mp3′s we all listen to are not better, necessarily, just convenient.  In fact an mp3 ripped from an audio cd is a rough equivalent to a song a taped off an lp.  I became reacquainted with my mixtapes from the mid to late ’80′s.  The most exciting discoveries being found in the space at the end where the 45 minute side was longer than the vinyl album and the dead space filled with the random odd thing.  I have about 3,000 cd’s representing most of the music I need to have at my fingertips.  I’d long ago foolishly discarded almost all my lp’s, and most of it has been replaced digitally, but there were a few long lost gems I began to realize I might find in the cassettes.  The lp’s have been gone for decades but here were copies pickled back in the day, all the wondrous surface noise which had sent me over to cd’s in the first place now a charming reminder of  how music used to sound.

The scene of the crime

I became obsessed with one recording in particular.  Out of all the music I’d ever heard, there was one astonishing bit of recorded music I’d never been able to replace on cd.  I knew it would turn up somewhere, unless it was something I’d taped over, which unfortunately  happened pretty often.  At least a quarter of them had been sacrificed for car tapes from cd’s I still have.  The lp in question was David Bedford’s Nurse’s Song With Elephants from 1972.

David Bedford had been involved with the british art rock scene in the late ’60′s and ’70′s as a string arranger for the likes of Roy Harper, and Kevin Ayers.  He orchestrated and conducted Mike Oldfield’s The Orchestral Tubular Bells album (1975).

(wiki)

The first album to consist entirely of David Bedford compositions was Nurses Song With Elephants, recorded at the Marquee Studios, and released in 1972 on John Peel’s Dandelion label. On this album, Bedford mixed classical ensemble with poems and voices. “Some Bright Stars for Queen’s College” uses twenty-seven plastic pipe twirlers, John Peel himself being among the pipe twirler players. There are five tracks on the album: “It’s Easier Than It Looks”, “Nurses Song With Elephants”, “Some Bright Stars for Queen’s College”, “Trona” (1967), and “Sad and Lonely Faces”.  Bass guitar on the title song is played by Mike Oldfield and the final track features a poem by Kenneth Patchen that is sung by Kevin Ayers.

The Album

After about a month of searching, I’d already found Sad And Lonely Faces, so I knew I was on the trail and success was possible.  I found a cassette simply labelled “ex Albums ll”, which I sussed was made of choice cuts just before selling the records to buy my first cd’s back in 1991.   I’m a painter and all this time I’m listening, I’m painting pictures, sometimes not paying real close attention, but this time I was standing there, waiting to see what came next.  About 3/4 of the way through, and after Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s amazing Space Guitar, and Magic Sam’s 21 Days in Jail, there it was, I’d found my holy grail.

I’m not sure why I picked this out of everything to obsess over, except that it’s one of the most oddly compelling pieces I’ve ever heard.  There is a lot of air moving from acoustic sources, always a powerful experience.  All those girls voices make my hair stand on end in a good way.  Anyway I was very happy to hear it again, and wanted to share it this holiday season.  Enjoy!!!!!

Some Bright Stars For Queens College

I Don’t Know My Jazz From A Hole In The Ground

 
Been tripping on a lot of newish fusion. Seems King Crimson and 70′s prog rock are as big an influence on these guys as The Mahavishnu Orchestra or Jazz in general. I avoided the obvious and tried to stick with newish guitar oriented stuff. In other words, No Jeff Beck, or Al Dimeola. In general I’m pretty traditional in my limited appreciation of Jazz. Monk is probably my favorite, followed by the other “M” guys, Miles, and Mingus.
Most of the music is from the aughts, with a couple exceptions. While assembling this I started to think it needed some James Blood Ulmer, who was at the end of the first wave of fusion, but was a little too forward thinking and didn’t really fit in at the time. The blistering “Black Rock” (1982) somehow manages to sound like Captain Beefheart and James Brown at the same time. Jef Lee Johnson’s Jungle (1993) was included to keep Blood company as the only other vocal. T.J. Kirk (1995) was a band featuring Charlie Hunter on 8 string guitar, who derived their name from the fact that they play the music of Thelonious Monk, James Brown, and Roland Kirk. Marc Ribot made the cut with this tune from Rootless Cosmopolitans (1990).


I wrote this post awhile ago but just got around to putting it up. I listened to the comp a bunch of times and couldn’t decide whether to add some newer stuff I’ve “acquired”. Today I was notified of some spam comments so when I deleted them I decided, “Fuck it, I’m just going to post the sucker.”

Link in Comments. Enjoy!

Sanford and Son

Frankly Brilliant

 

I painted this seven feet high

I didn’t “get” Frank Zappa for a long time. My friend Slow Uncle, did, and tried to interest me. I eventually bought We’re Only In It For The Money, largely for the hilarious send up of Sgt Pepper’s album cover, but I didn’t think the songs were very good. I mentioned a couple posts back being exposed to “The Mudshark” from Live at Fillmore East, June 1971, and my parents disapproval, but I wasn’t really ready for it. I liked the toilet humor and everything, but I hated jazz and the music was over my head.

Still cracks me up

When I moved into my dorm room at San Diego State in the fall of 1976, we were encouraged to paint our rooms or if we felt like it, murals outside our rooms. Sounds crazy, but this was the ’70′s. Even though I wasn’t a fan of his music I always admired his irreverence, that’s why I painted his likeness from We’re Only In It For The Money next to the door outside my room. I don’t have a picture of it, but to the right is what I copied, including Frank’s wondering, “Is This Phase One Of Lumpy Gravy?”

I was no longer living in the dorm in the Spring of 1978 when he played the amphitheatre on campus where I witnessed a phenomenal performance. After the last song the audience stood and began clapping and yelling for what seemed to be 30 minutes or more.
Eventually Frank came onstage and said, “You people are crazy. We can hear you all the way in the dressing room”, at which the band came back out and proceeded to play another hour and a half.  Interesting detail:  There was a guy in Frank’s band I never heard of  that played guitar and did a dead-on Dylan impersonation.  His name was Adrian Belew.   A month or three later I went to see David Bowie at the San Diego Sports Arena and there he was again! I thought he was great until he started singing on King Crimson records.

A couple months ago, Q, drummer in Foglizard, where I am a member of the rhythm section, said he planned to spend the summer listening to Frank, and did I own anything he could borrow?  I had Fillmore East June 1971, and Ahead Of Their Time.  I did some research and managed to acquire 17 FZ releases for personal review.
I tend to prefer the work of the original Mothers of Invention. Maybe because they were a band he joined and took over. After he fired them in 1969, he hired ever more amazing musicians, but with a diminishing amount of soul.

In around 1991, I bought a cd copy of Cruisin With Ruben And The Jets, an album I remembered as being a fun parody/tribute to old R&B and Doo Wop. There was something terribly wrong with it, which turned out to be that Frank had rerecorded the original drum and bass parts for reasons only understood by him. I got rid of it right away. Turns out He also ruined We’re Only In It For The Money in a similar fashion. Fan’s outcry against this was so strong he eventually restored We’re Only In It For The Money, but not before referring to them as “fetishists”. He never got around to Ruben before his death, so I found an original vinyl rip of the lp. It’s a mystery why he thought those bass and drum tracks needed replacement. It’s kind of like Paul McCartney replacing John Lennon with Mark Knopfler.
If you buy the Zappa Family Trust’s Lumpy Money, you’ll be treated to the horrible remix of WOIIFTM as a “Bone us” disc.

"A last ditch effort by the Mothers to get their crummy music on the radio"

I encourage you to read the whole Zappa/Mothers story on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Zappa

If you don’t have the time or inclination here is an interesting tidbit:

During his childhood Zappa was often sick, suffering from asthma, earaches and sinus problems. A doctor treated the latter by inserting a pellet of radium into each of Zappa’s nostrils; little was known at the time about the potential dangers of being subjected to even small amounts of therapeutic radiation. Nasal imagery and references appear both in his music and lyrics, as well as in the collage album covers created by his long-time visual collaborator, Cal Schenkel.

Long Out Of Print

Anyway I’ve compiled a fun disc worth of music by the original Mothers. There are some songs from Mothermania, a long out of print “best of” compiled by Frank in 1968, containing substantially different mixes from the original albums. Also are some cuts from Cruisin With Ruben And The Jets, which is kind of the spiritual center of my comp which I call Motherama. All these tracks come from rips of the original vinyl releases. The rest are from Freak Out, Absolutely Free, Uncle Meat, Burnt Weeny Sandwich, and Weasels Ripped My Flesh.

I also included a passage from Playground Psychotics (1992) which has Jeff Simmons quitting the group a few days before shooting 200 Motels. He was replaced by Ringo Starr’s chauffer at the last minute. This is followed by two tunes from Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up, an out of print 1970 album by Jeff Simmons produced by Frank under the pseudonym of Lamar Bruister. “Lucille” and “Wonderful Wino” are about the only songs in Frank’s catalog that credit a co-writer. Frank plays guitar and Ian Underwood is featured. Both tunes turn up later in Frank’s discography in less interesting versions.

For your immediate listening pleasure I’ve included a rare “live” version of “Plastic People”. I read that before real music was written for it they played it over “Louie, Louie”. This must be that.

I think this stuff has aged really well.  Frank’s social commentary was/is right on the money.

I am now a fan.

Plastic People

Link in Comments.

Number Two

The Playlist


As mentioned in the profile, and other previous posts, the original now that’s what I call bullshit, was thrown together really quickly, but had a great flow and energy. If you make a lot of mix cd’s, then you know some turn out better than others. A good one will stand up to repeated listenings. Some assemble easily and others don’t. Number one was effortless and encouraged me to make another. Number Two had a lot to live up to. It took all week to assemble, with a couple failed prototypes along the way. This time the effort paid off. The result was a lot more variety, and a couple real real sleepers.
Things start off fine with memorable tunes by The Mermen, BRMC, Love Story In Blood Red, but really begin to go places with Ed Harcourt’s “Hanging With The Wrong Crowd”, followed by the aptly titled, “Nightmare”. Duncan Browne is a reminder that being a singer song writer is not alway a bad thing. “Babe Rainbow” is beautifully rendered. Magic Sam’s “Funky G Street” is a hair raising instrumental, Junior Kimbrough is transcendent, and Mattafix provides a conscious multi-culti international take on classic soul with “Big City Life”.

Here’s something I found about Nancy Boy:

Led by the progenies of two ’60s rockers, hippy-dippy Donovan and blue-hatted Monkee Mike Nesmith, pomo new wavers Nancy Boy definitely rebelled against their musical pedigree, emphasizing fashion and style over traditional substance. Model Donovan Leitch and Jason Nesmith threw Bowie, Suede, Duran Duran, and Blur in a blender and served up their self-titled full-length debut in 1996, competing with the post-grunge, Creed-infested landscape of alternative music. With their skinny ties and eyeliner, they didn’t stand a chance.

Anyway this is one of the better mixes, so I thought I’d share it. now that’s what I call bullshit 2 was assembled during the first week of June, 2006. I listened to this the whole summer I spent down in South Jersey as a surf bum.
Link In Comments.

The Original artifact

Number Fifty Two

The Playlist

A friend sent me a link to someone’s idea of the greatest rock guitar solos on record because “Baby’s On Fire”, one of my first posts, and a guitar solo I’d nominate for some kind of “best” list, was on it. I can’t remember what the other eleven tracks were, except I wasn’t familiar with most of them, or my response was, “What?!”. A brief email correspondence took place where I nominated a handful of solos that would be on my list, and got as far as promising it would be the theme for the next “Bullshit”. I started to jot down some ideas, a little disappointed that “Baby’s On Fire was already on Number Fifty when I realized I had no interest in compiling or listening to all that fretful wankery.
Also I’d collected the solo-less “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” from Lux N Ivy’s Favorites and already earmarked it for Now That’s What I Call Bullshit 52.
All the Bullshits tend to follow the same pattern of eclecticism, so I lost the guitar solo theme. That said, a few of them made it onto the playlist. They are grouped together in a mini set consisting of “Old Pervert”, possibly my favorite Kimberly Rew solo from The Soft Boys Underwater Moonlight. Interesting because this version is not on the cd reissue, where it has been replaced by a vastly inferior rendition. This version is dubbed from a cassette copy I made in 1986 of the original vinyl release. Next up is “Lounge Lizard” from Ian Hunter’s first solo album featuring Mick Ronson on guitar. It’s really hard to narrow Mick down to a single solo, but I think this one stands out for all the right reasons. After that comes “Tit-Nan-Darag”, from Live, Love, Larf by French, Frith, Kaiser, and Thompson. Three out of four of those guys are well known for their guitar prowess. The other guy for the incredible drumming in Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band. I hear the album isn’t great, but this track smokes, and when Richard Thompson plays, I listen. It wasn’t destined for my list, but his solo on Fairport’s “Tale In Hard Time” is no laughing matter, either. It’s not a solo, but Blixa Bargeld’s guitar on “The Moon Is In The Gutter” is some of my favorite atmospheric noodling. Davy O’List plays some crazy shit on “The ‘In’ Crowd”, Mick Ronson shimmers tastefully on “Up To Me”, and the guitars on Acetone’s “No Need Swim” are as gorgeous as you-fill-in-the-blank.
Keef’s playing on “Honky Tonk Women” and Ron’s solo on “Twisting the Night Away” would have both made the cut, but I’ve heard them too many times, so here they are together on “Not Fade Away” from The Stones Stripped Deluxe, where no one in the band sounds like they plan on fading away any time soon. And then there’s Lou Reed on “You’re Driving Me Insane”, a song recorded by The Roughnecks shortly before forming The Velvet Underground, where he plays the practically same solo (if you can call it that) as “Run, Run, Run” from the “banana” album.
The Mekons always have good guitars, and are here because this song narrowly missed the cut on my post a few months back. One of the Mekons, Lu Edmonds, is currently playing guitar on tour with Public Image Ltd.
The Liquor Giants “I Don’t Mind” is a dead ringer for Big Star. Too bad it wasn’t covered by them on In Space.
Something by Chris Spedding would have found it’s way onto the guitar list, check out Roy Harper’s “The Game” on an earlier post, so I end the set with the Sharks hysterical “Kung Fu”, from Jab It In Yore Eye(1977). One of those albums that wouldn’t make it onto anyone’s all-time list, but for some reason I played to death way back when, largely due to Spedding’s incredible tone and economy coupled with Snip’s charismatic vocals.
There isn’t any guitar at all on Gene Krupa’s “Scandanavian Baby”, but it rocks nicely and comes from a history of Jazz record my parents bought at a supermarket when I was a toddler.
It’s really about the songs anyway.
Link in Comments.
Enjoy!

Number Fifty One

The Ancestral origin of my blog

Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies is not shown, but you get the idea

Throughout the ’70′s and into the ’80′s (and apparently into the ’90′s in cd form) Warner/Reprise had what they called their “loss leader” program. The inner sleeves offered the opportunity to buy  two record samplers for two dollars apiece. The idea, of course was that you’d go out and buy the full albums at full price.

I had and still maintain a restless ear that needs a constant supply of new music. It’s rare I play any one thing to death.  As a kid I never had enough money to buy all the music I craved, nor any older siblings to “borrow” from.  As soon as my parents left the house I’d turn on their Magnavox and go to the right of the dial looking for the freeform FM radio stations lurking around 106. This was a full decade before KROQ. The DJ’s would spin a lot of discs without saying anything so I rarely knew what I was hearing, except  it was dangerous, and my parents would hate it, saying it was “Acid Rock” played by people on dangerous drugs (Turns out they were right about that).  As soon as I saw the garage door open off it went before the oppressors caught on what I was up to. Except for when I forgot to turn the radio back to their regular station. They were not amused when greeted by Frank Zappa and the Mothers lovely “Mudshark” from “Live at Fillmore East 1971″

I might have been at a friends house smoking catnip and looking at his big brother’s Black Sabbath album when I noticed the offer on the sleeve. Otherwise I have no idea what album I might have cut out the order form to send off with $3 for Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, a 3 record set filled with the likes of The Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac, The Beach Boys, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, The Faces, Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, Captain Beefheart, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks, Little Feat, T-Rex, Alice Cooper, The Fugs, Black Sabbath, along with lesser known acts as like Pearls Before Swine, H.P.Lovecraft, Half Nelson, and Beaver and Krause.
Waiting six weeks for that sucker to arrive was an eternity. It came as a  Box set with Elmer Fudd on the front.  There were extensive liners with biographies and photos.

I just saw one for $90

Eventually I bought six or seven of them. The influence of these records on my development was huge.

Sadly I got rid of them during the great Punk purge of 1979, when suddenly everything sounded so tame, and irrelevant.
Pictured above is one I never owned, as it seemed “too old” in 1972 when I started buying them. I found this one in a thrift store and bought as a tribute to fond memories of all the others.

All through college and continuing today I’ve made compilations similar in concept to these records, although I didn’t put this together until fairly recently. That said, I have to admit my blog is an extension and a descendant of them.
The tradition lives at  Now That’s What I Call Bullshit.

Last week a friend sent me a DVD loaded with something like 600 MP3′s, so I made a playlist of a surveying less than 10% of the music. One song off each album made for 48 tracks and 2.8 hours of music. From the highlights I made a compilation cd for the car.
Entitled, Now That’s What I Call Bullshit 51, it is here for you to download if you like. The link can be found in the comments. Enjoy! And feel free to buy anything you can’t live without.

Of course after I wrote this last night I thought to Google “Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders” and found a buttload of articles about the series including this one:

http://www.dustbury.com/music/wbloss.html

Go there for the full story.

The Playlist

Alex Chilton RIP Big Star

 

Bach's Bottom

William Alexander “Alex” Chilton (December 28, 1950 – March 17, 2010) was an American songwriter, guitarist, singer and producer best known for his work with the pop-music bands the Box Tops and Big Star.
Chilton’s early commercial sales success in the 1960s as a teen vocalist for the Box Tops was not repeated in later years with Big Star and in his indie music solo career on small labels, but he did draw a loyal following in the indie and alternative music fields.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Chilton

The original artifact

I moved to New York City August 1, 1988. It took awhile to get settled which really means not about to get evicted. When I finally had enough coin to buy a little baggie of weed and make a trip to the record store it was sometime in March, 1989. I know this because I have a cassette dated April 1, 1989, which I must have made within a week or two of buying Big Star’s Third. I’d heard of Alex Chilton, knew he’d been a Box Top, and that he was responsible for music I needed to hear. Mixed with this impression was also tragedy, and or failure, and that while he was still making music it wasn’t as it turned out more Big Star. I’d never run across any of his stuff until I found 3rd which I bought and loved on first listen. It was recorded in sessions produced by Jim Dickinson at Ardent in Memphis during 1974, but never properly sequenced and released until years later.

Of course I was back at the record store looking for more within days, where I purchased my second Alex album, Bach’s Bottom, which was an entirely different experience. I’m dense enough not to have realized until just now that the title was a pun on “Box Tops”.
The title wasn’t the only thing that mystified me. The vinyl record of 3rd didn’t have all the extra songs the cd’s come with, just ten of the best, most solid tunes. No “Downs” for instance.
How did the brilliant songwriter and performer who crafted this masterpiece follow it up with the junk on Bach’s Bottom (1975)?  Exactly the question every Big Star fan wonders.  I went back to the record store and bought High Priest. More lame, barely listenable crap, including a throw away “Volare”.   After that I just zeroed in on the Big Star albums and avoided Alex’s solo work just like most post Velvets Lou Reed.

When I really liked something, I’d make a cassette copy to listen to every day and archive the vinyl.  I’d read somewhere once that a record begins to sound different after about eight plays.  I would have copied 3rd almost immediately. The blank cassette I had available was a C-60, so I filled the end of each side with “highlights” from those other albums.

One song from Bach’s Bottom I couldn’t stop listening to was “Take Me Home (And Make Me Like It)”.  Before posting this I did a little research and found that there are three versions altogether on the 1993 Razor and Tie version of the album.  I think the one I like is #2, but on Amazon, the sample you can hear has so much banter at the top that it cuts off before the song actually kicks in.  The version posted is dubbed from the cassette. It’s the only thing I really remember about Bach’s Bottom, maybe my copy had more than one version, I don’t know.  It took me half a day to find the cassette, which disintegrated while I made the transfer, in fact about 2:30 in you can hear where it was almost eaten.   The spirit captured by the recording is so great, I love Alex’s instructions about the headphones and the helpful advice at the end.  Everyone is obviously lit up like a tree,  the performance’s sub demo quality get’s by on charming exuberance and the song still comes through, even though he’d just previously sung “It’s The Singer Not The Song”, which by the way, isn’t true.
It’s got this great tension between what it is and what it could have been which is the story of Alex Chilton’s career.  That’s why I’m posting this and not one of the Big Star classics which I figure everyone else is doing.

I meant to get this up days ago, but I became suddenly busy with Globular Cluster.

"Global" Cluster had a blast at this show

Take Me Home And Make Me Like It

Here is a very brief video by William Eggleston shot in Memphis about the same time as sessions for 3rd (Sister Lovers) (1974). Captures perfectly the studio ambience of Memphis nightlife found on  ”Take Me Home And Make Me Like It”, I think.
Eggleston has contributed the cover photos for both Big Star and Alex solo albums Radio City, ColumbiaLike Flies On Sherbert,  and others probably as well.  I’ll have to check later.

The Grandest Time

here’s another:

Be Nice