I am not going to sit here and write a biopiece on Alex Chilton. I discovered him, in all places, Iraq (thank you Amazon, thank you Gary the Pharmacist, I wonder where you ended up).
Let’s just say that if you don’t know who Alex Chilton is, you should be whipped with heavy electrical wires until his entire discography ends. If you think “Sister Lovers is ‘overrated’, I wouldn’t even waste water to waterboard you. An oubliette hanging over some rapids for a few weeks should do the trick.
I like a musical “fuck you”. Few artists pull it off well. The Beatles did a nice job, Lou Reed’s entire music catalog up until “The Blue Mask” is a very long fuck you. Then there’s Alex Chilton, whose third Big Star record-to-be called “Sister Lovers” flipped the bird in each song, but was very regretful that he had to say “fuck you” before he tanked his career. Of course, at some point Alex recorded for you again, and no one understood what he was doing. That’s a shame, because parts of “Sister Lovers” sound like Beethoven on a booze and downers, with “Like Flies On Sherbet” inaugurating the return of boogie.
No one was listening, so why not make records for himself? At some point, any good artist discovers that the songs belong to him or her, and is magically free from the demands of the crowd. Ah, he also realizes that the people who brought him to his pedestal are sycophantic yes men who couldn’t care less about Alex Chilton and this includes the majority of A&R people regardless of the artist. I’d get tired of a managed image rather quickly myself.
Rykodisc did some fantastic sequencing of the unfinished record that is actually what “Sister Lovers” was. I usually admire what they do. But anyway, my favorite song on Sister Lovers has got to be “Thank You Friends”. I can never get enough of his line “for making this all so probable“. In other words, all of his friends dicked him enough so that he had a career in music, and they didn’t make it possible. Alex Chilton did. How is that for a “fuck you”?