Still Thinking Chilton
Alex Chilton dying is one of those things that we will keep re-living because it's still so hard to believe and just won't quite "sink in". When i saw him live for the first time it was around the time of Feudalist Tarts and you couldn't get #1 Record or Radio City easily on LP as they hadn't been reissued by Line or Big Beat yet. in fact i think PVC reissued Sister Lovers before either of the first two had 80's pressings...so essentially i was seeing this legend play the Cat's Cradle or the Brewery, but he was playing this pared-down R&B sets of covers and a few of his own songs ("No Sex" certainly and probably "Bankok" and other solo stuff) but no Big Star and no hint even of what Big Star had been...it was a little confounding and though i came to appreciate that side of Chilton it didn't prepare me for when i could actually get copies of the 3 Big Star albums, and it's fair to say they blew my mind in that way of "how could these record exist and sound like this and i have lived this long without hearing them?"...i think all three are perfect in their own ways (with 3rd maybe the deepest well of the three for me) and while i think many fans wanted him to go back to that sound & style & voice, i can understand why he walked away (not even counting relationships / drugs / poverty) because really what else could he have done to top it? Carrie Brownstein has a great explanation of what it was like to find those records on her blog at NPR:
"Musicians and fans have always passed around Big Star songs and albums like a secret handshake. When you found out someone hadn't heard #1 Record or Radio City, you were so excited to provide that missing link, to pass on all the glimmer, the jangly guitar, the big chords, the melodies, the American anthems that let you keep your teenage self -- for some of us long since faded -- close, etched upon your skin."
great interview HERE from MTV's Cutting Edge circa '85.