Thursday, 11 September 2014

Art of the Cover - Alex Chilton's "Electricity by Candlelight" (2013)

What a wonderful cover shot!

It's the nice oddity Electricity By Candlelight - a bizarre live set set from the late great Alex Chilton.

Electricity By Candlelight gives you the chance to be part of a unique night that took place on the 13th of February 1997 in New York. 

Chilton, the influential lead singer of bands like the Box Tops and Big Star, was playing with his band at the Knitting Factory. Unfortunately, the electricity went out right after the first set. Somebody happened to have an acoustic guitar on hand, and there were some candles, and so Chilton decided to play a few songs for those audience members who were still hanging around. Alex continued the night with an impromptu 17-song set of some never played before covers and audience requests acoustically,

An audience member - one Jeff Vargon - happened to catch the show on tape.

Obviously, the sound quality is far from great, but it's a collection that displays the laid-back and friendly aspect of the often misunderstood legend.

Electricity by Candlelight shows off Chilton's instrumental virtuosity and his impressive memory for songs. Show me someone who knows all the chords to "Wouldn't It Be Nice" offhand and I'll show you a Beach Boy, but Chilton knocks it out with no problem, then follows it with "Surfer Girl" and "Solar System." (He bluffs his way through a single verse of Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You," but come on.) The real joy of this set, though, is that it gives us what Chilton's later career promised but rarely delivered. He's not trying to flip anyone off, or working out torment, or phoning in the oldies with former bandmates and acolytes. He's just a great busker, having a really good time with his tiny audience. 


1 Last Bouquet
2 Step Right This Way
3 Let's Get Lost
4 D-I-V-O-R-C-E
5 Raining In My Heart
6 Lovesick Blues
7 Girl From Ipanema
8 My Baby Just Cares For Me
9 Motel Blues
10 Someone To Watch Over Me
11 Footprints In The Snow
12 Case Of You
13 Wouldn't It Be Nice
14 Surfer Girl
15 Solar System
16 I Walk The Line
17 If I Had A Hammer
18 You Can Bet Your Heart On Me

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