Thursday, March 18, 2010
THE SAD HOLIDAYS OF POWER POP
ST. PATRICK'S DAY
Alex Chilton and his band, Big Star, influenced more groups, and the acts that they in turn inspired, than you'll ever realize. Despite the sadness and truth of that statement, it's not at all what I really wish to talk about.
I want to talk about Alex.
I always new who Chilton and Big Star were, but didn't really get my education and initiation until a dear friend and the Lala website schooled me in. After immersing myself in music I could hardly believe was from the 1970's, I began searching for and finding cds, including my personal favorite, Rykodisc's "Big Star Live", a radio gig taped directly to two track in Long Island, while on tour for "Radio City"...It sounds amazing despite the source recording.
Alex Chilton passed away last night at 59. This is a fact that most don't know, because outside of a #1 hit with the Box Tops, "The Letter", back in the late 60's, he's remained on the fringe of the musical scape outside of the initiated and converted. That's piece of bitter truth.
The sounds that he coaxed from his guitar and elicited from his voice, a perfect partnership, were undeniably his own. Even in the most upbeat of his songs, there was a dripping slice of melancholy, that tugged at a place somewhere within, even as your toes tapped.
You knew it was Alex's guitar just from the first few notes of his records. Few six stringers can say that.
Goodbye, Sir. And El Goodo, wherever you are.....Play it the same.
The Knack sold 6 million copies of their debut on the wings of a Capitol Records media Blitz and the strength of one of the greatest singles of all time, "My Sharona". Matter of fact, every track on that debut, "Get the Knack" was a potential hit single.
"Oh Tara", "Lucinda", "My Sharona",...contrary to popular belief, all these girls were real individual romances in the life of lead singer, Doug Fieger who co-wrote most of the Knack's songs with lead guitarist Berton Averre, who, in Doug's words "grew up 2000 miles away from him, next door".
This was Power Pop at it's finest, showing flashes of the garage rock of the 60's, with touches of the Beatles and Dave Clark Five, Doug and the boys still made it their own. Sadly, despite solid success in their 2nd LP, and critical acclaim of their third, they fizzled out....a couple of moderately noticed reunion albums followed, but the Knack couldn't grab it back.
But for a brief shining moment circa 1979/1980, they were the biggest band in the world, and Doug Fieger was the core. A sweet, smart, self-effacing guy passed February 14th at 57. I was given a hand me down copy of that first LP in 1982, and my idea of pop music was never the same.
Goodbye, Doug....wherever you are, keep it just as catchy and just as sweet and nasty as you always did......