Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Haphazard Masterpiece




I was getting very destructive  in a lot of ways then, and I was trying to capture that on recordings.
-Alex Chilton

In 1978 Aura Records in London, and later PVC in the US, released 1974 recordings made by Alex Chilton and Big Star drummer Jody Stephens as Big Star 3rd. These are different versions of the same influential album. Chilton was never informed about what tracks were selected. The album has also been called Sister/Lovers because Chilton and Stephens were dating the Aldridge sisters, Lesa and Holliday.


Lesa is on the right, in this photo by William Eggleston




Chilton wrote "Blue Moon" for 18 year old Lesa,  with the line "Let me be your one light/if you like a true heart". Lesa told A Man Called Destruction author Holly George-Warren "It was a a validation of his love for me--he loved me very bit as much as I loved him. You can't write that kind of song for someone you don't."


“Lesa is a muse, unquestionably,” Jim Dickinson, Chilton’s producer, once said. “Nearly every song on 3rd is about her. The world will never know the extent to which Lesa was responsible for that record.”



It was a tumultuous relationship. Chilton, messed up on downers, would sometimes get physical with her. Lesa inspired many of the songs on 3rd . The song "Kanga Roo" is supposedly about their first meeting "I first say you/ You had on blue jeans/ Your eyes couln't hide/Anything", and she is even name checked in "Kizza Me" with the line "Lesa, why not".


Reviews were mixed. Some heard a sloppy, self -indulgent mess. But Creem's Robot Hill wrote:

Chilton's genius was in allowing the songs to remain untouched, a decision that intentionally reflected his confused state. Because they tend to reveal little more than the artist's mushrooming ego, personal albums usually make me sick. But this one just happens to be a haphazard masterpiece. 


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