Feudalist Tarts

Alex Chilton


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Info Label: Big Time BTA 005
Media Condition: VG+
Sleeve Condition: VG+
Genre: Rock, Soul, Blues, Jazz
Notes: Electrosound Los Angeles pressing. A very nice copy, plays oh so clean.

If you like: The Box Tops or Big Star, you’re bound to be thrilled with Alex Chilton’s solo endeavors–particularly this rootsy EP akin to the glory days of The Letter/Neon Rainbow-era Box Tops.
About: In a business that reinvents itself at every turn, Alex Chilton thrived for four decades with a three-fold career–his early recordings as a blue-eyed soul vocalist with The Box Tops; the idiosyncratic, British-influenced power pop albums he did with Big Star in the mid-‘70s (and after the group re-formed with a new lineup in 1993); and the spate of cool but chaotic solo albums he recorded beginning in the late ‘70s, ranging from the deliberately damaged attack of 1979’s Like Flies on Sherbert to the lean but soulful stylings of 1987’s High Priest and 1995’s A Man Called Destruction. To some, he was a classic hitmaker from the ‘60s. To others, he was a genius British-style pop musician and songwriter. To yet another audience, he was a doomed and despairing artist who spent several years battling the bottle and delivering anarchist records and performances while thumbing his nose at all pretenses of stardom, a quirky iconoclast whose influence spawned the likes of The Replacements and Teenage Fanclub. *via Cub Koda
Why it’s worth your time: Released after a five year hiatus (post-Like Flies on Sherbert fiasco), Feudalist Tarts boasts a noble return to Chilton’s rootsy soul beginnings (recalling his early days in The Box Tops) merged with a subtle ‘50s rockabilly sensibility that comes into existence so organically you’ll blink and miss it amongst the array of jazzy backing arrangements if you’re not paying enough attention. But don’t be fooled by the elegant takes on Slim Harpo’s “Tee Ni Nee Ni Nu” and Carla Thomas’ “B-A-B-Y”–a truly spectacular moment of the six song effort–or the vivacious “Stuff”; despite the clean production and lush instrumentation, Chilton’s signature tounge-in-cheek lyricism, clear vocal delivery, and crunchy guitars converge with gritty harmonica solos to preserve that beloved iconoclastic spirit. A summer staple in my books, it pairs especially well with 1989 release, Black List–an EP that could have very well been combined with this one to form a single LP, which has apparently happened in the digital world–for optimal fun-in-the-sun listening.    
A favorite track: B-A-B-Y