There will soon be a Big Star in the midst of Glasgow. Brian Houg. a member ol‘ the FLIIIClUl). talks to
main man. Alex Chilton.
'l‘hc mercurial .-\le.\ ('liilton is not a household name. yet the influence of this acclaimed [78 musician is considerable. His was the featured Voice on the Bo\ 'l'ops' hits "l‘hc l.ettcr' and ‘(’ry l.ike :\ Baby" and ! during the early 70s ('liilton led Big Star. a group , whose melange of the Beatles. ls'inks. Beach Boys and Memphis attitude caryed a glorious niche in rock
:\cts as tliyei'sc as REM and The Replacements hayc paid tribute to Big Star's three seminal albums. ' while Bellshill-bascd bandits 'l’eenagc l:illlL‘llll) exorcised their spirit oti [ill/Itllt‘(lg’()ll(’.\'(/ll('. ‘I had been touring litiropc.' (‘hilton recalls. ‘and people had been telling me abottt 'l'eenage liancluh. saying that they sounded like Big Star. I didn't pay too much attention until I returned to the [78. I rented a car in .-\tlanta. tuned into a local radio station and they were playing ‘Star Sign'. I became a tan. Maybe they were copying Big Star btit they were so much better.‘
This mutual appreciation has since blossomed. (irotip and singer haye occasionally joined one another on stage and iii the studio atid Teenage l:;iltL‘llllt w ill be (‘hilton’s hand on two forthcoming
dates at (ilasgow 's l3th Note.
it‘s a curious paradox that (‘hilton is best recalled
There’ll be stars in the Fannies’ eyes l
for his work with Big Star. a group barely actiyc lt)!’ three years. rather than subsequent recordings. Since l‘)77 he has pursued an engaging solo career which fully exposes his talents. Original material nestles alongside songs by lirnest 'l‘ubhs and KC and the Sunshine Band on Like l’lit's ()n Sher/zen. his first official album now reissued by (‘ookiiig \‘inyl. Meanwhile Creation Records are about to unleash /97(). recorded after quitting the Box Tops btit
eyenttially shelved when the singer opted to form Big Star. How does ('hilton react to such re-releases‘.’
‘l'ye stopped thinking about records of mine coming out. There haye been so many things appearing that l had no real control over. Once you've 24 out. another makes no real difference. Btit the recordings on /97(‘) were the first things alter the Box Tops and the first I had control over. I was able to work with people making music that was tip to datef
liyen on this initial foray. (.‘hilton‘s‘ love of musical surprises is eyideiit. :\s on later solo releases he pushes barriers and defies preconceptions. l‘)7() otters gorgeous melodies. eaithy rock songs and a rayaged heayy metal reading ol’ the Archies ‘Stigar Sugar" (‘hilton obyiously relishes his artistic freedom.
‘I really like to play in the studio and let things liappcn.‘ he explains. ‘lt's the place to get extra crazy and do exactly what I want to do. I like spontaneity atid I want to hear peoples' minds on the records.‘
('hilton possesses too much talent and Vision to remain a cult hero. yet eyents conspire against him. His newest album was issued last year on a reactiyatcd Ardent label. home of the original Big star releases. Yet the same distribution probletiis blighting the company the first time around haye resurfaced and the set is nest to impossible to find. (‘liilton has no immediate plans to return to the studio. although ideas are beginning to formulate.
‘l‘m in the mood to make a really off-the-w'all
record. It‘ll mean working with a company hip enough to dig it. htit I'll find one.‘
In the meantime. the cream of Chilton‘s back catalogue is ayailable again as his third visit to (ilasgow looms. 'l‘hose who captured his previous solo performance or I‘M-1‘s Big Star reunion know how mcsiiierising the singer is in person. A
collaboration with Teenage l’anclub simply heightens the sense of anticipation.
.t/m (lit/Ion plays [/10 Lil/i Note. (i/usgmr ()It Sim 7/.llmi N.
For a city a fraction of its size, it would be surprising not to have a city- based chamber choir. For Glasgow not to have had such a group is astonishing. Helping to put the situation to rights over the past couple of years is Robert Marshall, 3 Nottingham-born but now Glasgow- based Procurator Fiscal who graduated firstly in music from Edinburgh University. Meeting with success on all fronts so far, the Glasgow Chamber Choir mounts its most ambitious performance to date to mark its ‘coming of age’, performing Bach’s St John Passion in Glasgow Cathedral. Thirty voices in all, the members come from a variety of backgrounds from tax inspector to drugs project worker, further
education lecturer to research vet. ‘My over-riding aim,’ says Robert Marshall, who is conductor as well as the driving force behind the choir, ‘is to establish the Glasgow Chamber Choir in the cultural life of the city and to make music of the highest standard. At the same time I want to help raise the awareness of amateur music in Glasgow, which has not been high, maybe partly due to the number of professional music organisations based here.’ Support for such worthy objectives has already come from the Bank of Scotland, whose pump- priming initial sponsorship is now an . essential element of the choir’s l functioning, and the City Council, whose backing is similarly important. ‘We want and ought to be able to do things for the city’ explains Robert Marshall, ‘especially as Glasgow has such a rich history of music-making.’ The choir’s St John Passion will itself become part of that history, the 5 April performance being the first time the work has been performed in Glasgow
Marshall rounds up his singing-posse
The Glasgow Chamber Choir perform Bach’s St John Passion on Good Friday at Glasgow Cathedral.
on Good Friday, the day of the year on which Bach intended it to be heard. (Carol Main)
The List 5-18 Apr 1996 33