HEY! Get updates to this and the CD and 7" blogs via Twitter: @VinylUnderbite

2 March 2011

Alex Chilton - 'Like Flies on Sherbert' (Aura)

Welcome back, me! With many apologies for the long delay - 'twas due to the fact that this accumulation of vinyl (and CDs) were packed tightly in cardboard boxes for the past few months - a turbulent period of personal change, relocation and lots of sweat. But now they are unpacked, back on the shelves, the ol' Pro-Ject hooked up again, and the Ortofon cartridge is ready to scream out. It's pretty nice to come back with Like Flies on Sherbert, a record that I believe should be forced upon every irritating jangle-prone Big Star follower. The sugar and twang only work for me if you know the darkness underneath. Sister Lovers is some well-documented depression but the spiral comes out of that, through 'Downs', and into Sherbert, a maddening plodding mess that somehow makes more sense to me as I get older. Yeah, it's mostly cover versions, with all the levels set wrong, tons of mistakes left in, and a proto-Inca Eyeball vibe of apathy. Though, there's an energy in the loose rings - the fluid grooves are about feeling, not precision. The personal demons of Mr. Chilton are a good deal abstracted from the relatively direct levels of Sister Lovers, but if you liked the sarcasm of 'Thank You Friends' you'll probably find much to celebrate here. I know I do. Roy Orbison's 'I've Had It' is a particular highlight, with Chilton growling the lyrics out of the side of his mouth, and if I knew the song better I'd know for sure if he's even singing the lyrics correctly. 'Waltz Across Texas' is perhaps the most memorable track here, though it might be a stretch to apply the term 'highlight'. It's a ludicrous mockery of American music, while somehow being very listenable - it's one I've played repeatedly. The title tracks ends it, an crunchy bit of whatthefuck. I wonder if this was the only record Chilton ever made - no Box Tops, no Big Star -- then what sort of legacy he would have? I suspect we would think of him as much more of a Kenneth Higney figure. Pussy Galore comparisons are easy to make, but this is a record that has moved beyond self-destruction, into a new level of confusion. Bonus points awarded for the Videodrome-esque back cover, where producer James Luther Dickinson is draped in an American flag, in sunglasses and a headband, labeled only as "Dickinson".

No comments:

Post a Comment