With all the ongoing powerpop geek hyperventilation over Big Star, Alex Chilton’s solo albums are too often overlooked. Granted, they’re cut from a different cloth, but their shambolic charms and stubborn resistance to current trends made them stand out every bit as much as #1 Record or Third/Sister Lovers stood out against the prevailing winds of their own times.
Recorded in familiar surroundings at Ardent Studios in Memphis, and originally released via Ardent Records in 1995, A Man Called Destruction has long been a favorite of mine. A fun jumble of Chilton originals and far-flung curiosities from the likes of Fats Domino (“Sick and Tired”), Jimmy Reed (“You Don’t Have to Go”), Jan & Dean (“New Girl in School,” written with Brian Wilson), Danny Pearson (the goofy “What’s Your Sign Girl”) and, perhaps oddest of all, Italian entertainer Adriano Celentano (“Il Ribelle”), the album’s clash of R&B, blues and garage rock has a reckless spirit comparable to a Replacements show circa ’84, except Chilton & Co. can actually play the songs (solidly) start to finish.
The good people at Omnivore Recordings are re-releasing A Man Called Destruction on August 25th on double gatefold vinyl, CD and download, appended with seven previously unissued bonus tracks from the same sessions. Memphis-based music journalist Bob Mehr (author of, appropriately, Trouble Boys: The True Story of The Replacements) penned new liner notes for your reading enjoyment.
Photo by Paula Burch.