Friends and admirers of Alex Chilton will gather on December 28th at the Hi-Tone to mark his birthday with a performance of his album Like Flies on Sherbert. "I certainly wouldn't do it if Alex was still alive," said Ross Johnson, who played drums on the album. "His presence in this world always sort of kept my mouth shut. That dismissive scowl. With great trepidation I remember him looking at me. He would reduce you to ash with that Cheshire-cat scowl and grin. I saw it very often."
Given the accolades that have come to Big Star in recent years, Johnson and others wanted to honor the Chilton legacy that followed Big Star. "Jody and Stamey and the Big Star Mach II guys have taken Big Star's Third around the world," Johnson said. "So this is sort of a trip down the other side of the tracks."
Like Flies is a rambling, sorta-bent endeavor. It heralds the lo-fi aesthetic of Tav Falco and the Goner stable. The session vibe is right there on the record. It's a visceral reaction to the rococo harmonies and song structures (strictures?) of Big Star. Jim Dickinson produced the record. It was released on Sid Selvidge's Peabody label.
"I also think this is a tribute to Jim Dickinson, who had so much to do with the way the record was done. And also Lee Baker and Sid Selvidge," Johnson said. "We want to make it in the spirit of Like Flies, which was done in several sessions, the first ones in February 1978 at Sam Phillips and others. The last being August 16th of 1979. It was just Alex and myself, because Jim got sick that day. Alex was kind of delighted because that let him run free."
Alex Chilton Birthday Tribute Show featuring Ross Johnson & Friends Saturday, December 28th, at the Hi-Tone Café.