Shooting Star

The Big Star flew solo, jumped back to his Southern roots, then went live in London

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Following the big star Third Album aka Sister Lovers, a fine example of the art of soul-baring with all veins showing, the ever contrary Alex Chilton decided that was his dry run at a proper solo disc. Recording with James Luther Dickinson and various peripheral Big Star alumni at the legendary Sam Phillips and Ardent Studios, Chilton gathered the pieces of his occasional forays into Tennessee bars and constructed a typically bizarre burnt offering.

This 1980 album, Chilton’s solo debut (unless you count 1975’s Bach’s Bottom, which you should), starts with a lazy version of KC & The Sunshine Band’s Florida funk epic “Boogie Shoes”. Thereafter, Chilton wanders further into the dark recesses of dirty disco during “My Rival”, a gloriously splenetic counter-attack delivered with a quill full of poisoned skewers. Big Star-like in places?”I’ve Had It” and “Hey! Little Child” were leftover morsels?Sherbert also dipped into spooked Southern country on Ernest Tubbs’ “Waltz Across Texas”, “No More The Moon Shines On Lorena” and the title track, which resurrects Hank Williams’ corpse and wakes it up with a blast of Spectorish noise.

Disc 2, Live In London, is a relic from the old Dingwalls daze, 1980 to be precise. Punchy, punky and patchy, it benefits from raw takes of Chilton’s old Box Tops hit “The Letter”, a blowsy “Train Kept A Rollin'” and the inevitable “September Gurls”, knocked out impromptu with a local pick-up crew. Eager for the recognition, but never keen to have his hem touched too hard, Alex Chilton remains an enigma. Which is why we love him, presumably.

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