Alex Chilton – Electicity by Candlelight (2013)

Share this:

In a way, this kind of chaos — a darkened stage at the Knitting Factory — was the perfect setting for Alex Chilton, a performer who had made his legend drawing outside the lines.

Electricity by Candlelight documents a free-form evening of often never-before-heard songs, played for the remaining customers after a power failure. The band on this February 13, 1997, evening included Ron Easley and Richard Dworkin, who eventually added a stray cadence on the snare as Chilton got going. He stirred in songs, seemingly, as they came to him: the Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” the Chet Baker favorite “Let’s Get Lost,” London Wainwright III, Joni Mitchell, George Gershwin, Johnny Cash, Pete Seeger. Easley snapped a few pictures for posterity.

The album, due October 8, 2013, from Bar None Records, isn’t a place to achieve a career vista for those unfamiliar with the late Chilton. There’s nothing here to suggest the flinty R&B power of his days in the Boxtops, or his post punk-defining work with Big Star, either. Instead, Electricity by Candlelight plumbs more deeply into the playful eccentricity that kept Chilton from ever settling into any particular persona for long.

There’s a subtlety that recalls Cliches, his lovely acoustic 1994 set for Argent, but also the unfettered, almost reckless muse that created the often out-of-the-control Bach’s Bottom in 1975. Perhaps only the ever-restless, profoundly talented Chilton could, with real credibility, draw from George Gershwin, the Tammy Wynette songbook, and “The Girl from Ipanema,” too.

The set is rounded out by a bonus version of Johnny Lee’s 1981 country hit “Bet Your Heart on Me.”

[amazon_enhanced asin=”B00EMLKVQQ” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B000002VS1″ container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B0000032NO” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B00CA4S3SU” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B00000DOP0″ container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /]

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
Share this:
Close