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My Rival – Alex Chilton (2019)

October 13, 2019

Record Store Day/Black Friday Omnivore Records 10” EP (digital download to follow)

In recent years the industry around Alex Chilton has begun to resemble that around the Stooges with a wide variety of studio and live product of varying sound quality and artistic merit. This however is different. No so much for the five songs, all of which we have heard before. I first came across She Might Look My Way on a vinyl single that accompanied Judith Berman’s loyal Back Of A Car fanzine where it was performed by co-writer Tommy Hoehn. Then it popped up again on the Star Crossed boot in a Chilton band version, possibly one of the demos that Alex cut for Karin Berg at Elektra in 1977. My Rival and Windows Hotel were also Elektra demos whereas All Of The Time was the lead track on the Ork EP The Singer Not The Song.

So material-wise we have been here before. What makes this EP so fascinating is that it represents the last ever collaboration between Big Star co-founders Chilton and Chris Bell. Recorded at Ardent Studios Memphis in September 1975 Alex plays guitars and sings and Bell engineers the session. According to the excellent sleeve notes from Rich Tupica this was a try-out to see if Bell and Chilton could reunite for a Big Star show in London; the fact they subsequently went in different directions  indicated that the answer was no. These tracks displace You and Your Sister as the last recorded Bell/Chilton session. The delicious harmonies and exquisite arrangement of the acoustic She Might Look My Way (Take 2) suggests a Big Star chimera and a path not taken. Worth getting for this track alone.

Alex Chilton in the studio producing The Cramps at Sam Phillips Recording Studio, Memphis, Tennessee. December 1977.

 

 

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