Friday, February 10, 2012

Flash Metal Suicide: Charlies Sexton

Charlie Sexton 
Pictures For Pleasure
MCA, 1985

"She can't tell the difference, anyway..."

Prolly only yers and Platinum Willie Broad got the yarbles to assert this, but that eighties record producer, Keith Forsey, fookin' rocked, babies. He was the author of the Simple Minds "Pretty In Pink" prom classic, "Don't You Forget About Me", produced Willie Rebel's landmark "Rebel Yelp" AND this heavily moussed whizkit guitarslinger from Stevie Ray country, Charlie Sexton's sensational debut album, "Pictures For Pleasure", a snarlingly raucous, cascadingly cool, bruised and brooding array of pouty, heartsick loverock. I think my earliest recollection of Chuck Sexton wuz a picture in "Rolling Stone" magazine's "Random Notes" column of this gaunt prettyboy pinup dude jamming with some kinda baby boomer dinosaur rawk royalty-either the Vaughan bros., or Keef n Ronnie, or the Eagles or Rod stewart er somebody-I don't recall exactly who. I know he played on Don Henley's middle of the road weeper, "Building The Perfect Beast" and I think he mighta had a tune on the "Wild Life*" soundtrack er somethin' (*DO look fer Ron Wood in that flick's party scene!) but like I said, my memory's all but shot from way too many years of fuckin' up and blackin' out.  Anyways, all the Madonna wannabe/Cyndi Lauper chicks I fancied in those days wallpapered their rooms and lockers with pictures of this shouldabeena Stray Cat torn from the pages of "Smash Hits" magazine-we were all real big on creating these big collages of all our favorite rockstars, back then. Jimples of scotched tape metal heart throbs and 120 Minutes new wave queers -the Cure and the Crue, Billy Idol and Duran Duran. Charlie Sexton looked alot like a cross between Duran bassist John Taylor and Edward Scissorhands, but with a rebel boy James Dean countenance shades of Keith Richards. He smoked his cigarettes with style , sang like Bowie, had hair like Presley AND supposedly, he was always some talented guitar virtuoso, but you wouldn't know it from listening to his album, cos it was awash with synths, y'know? It all sounded exactly like Forsey's music for both Simple Minds and Billy Idol - especially on the glorious hit single, "Beat's So Lonely", with it's naggingly infectious chorus of "So Lonely/So Lonely..." What a fuckin' smash that album was-it still makes me taste the watermelon lipgloss on a certain long lost love's lips just hearin' it all these years on. She was one of those girls you always want back, who used to play it nonstop while we made out on her  bed beneath the Depeche Mode poster. The second best song on the record, "Impressed", also rocks ("I am NOT impressed/I love you the best....just a bunch of losers, yeah they're so damn cool/ they got nothing in this world to live up to...") Somehow, I remember thinkin' on the chorus of "Impressed" when he shouts, "long list of victims!": I preposterously always thought that line was, "I missed the Beatles!",which seemed even cooler to me, but I'm the same cat who once thought the "Leps line, "I'm not foolin' myself" was the more Rick James-like, "Hot Rock Bootay For Sale!" , so, y'know, whatever. My Fruedian slip's a showin' again.

I'll Bet It's Lonely At The Top...
Charlie Sexton made a cuppla bitchin videos that got a reasonable amount of MTV rotation, including the cool as shit, black and white stomper, "Beat's So Lonely", and the sortof mediocre rockabilly ballad, "Hold Me" that was intended to emphasize his Elvis-appeal. After the album fell off the radar, he released a few more albums I don't remember so well, and formed a group with his brother Will called Arc Angels for awhile that all the cool chicks who dug shit like Chris Isaak and the Connells collected, but I don't remember any of those songs standing out much to me. I think he did "The Battle Hymn Of The Republic" instrumentally or something , but for me, he never managed to recapture the Ken Forsey produced lightning in a bottle magic of "Pictures For Pleasure". That one rocked just like "Rebel Yell" almost minus summa the space shuttle guitar wank. If yer hip to Quentin Tarantino's best movie "True Romance", you might recall that swanky rockabilly shuffle, "Never Been To Graceland". That was Charlie Sexton, too. We always respected him for having one of the best hairstyles of the eighties, after Neal X from Sigue Sigue Sputnik, who we also emulated back then. Flash Metal Bubblegum, really. If you dug solo Billy Idol, Charlie Sexton shared much of his whole vibe-the whole wan, anemic, black leather, curly lip, skull guitar strap slung super lowdown low, dangling ash on a Chesterfield, classic pose with some real slick songs to back it all up with.  Like a teenage sleaze, a comic book tease, with yer art on yer sleeve. Last I heard, he was playing lead guitar for none other than Bob Dylan  (and if you ain't heard ol' Zimmy's powerhouse "Masters Of War" in recent years, go listen to it a/s/a/p...) and if you ever dug yer flash metal on the sulking teenybopper Smash Hits/John Hughes movie/120 Min. side of the tracks, by all means, go revisit this sucker outta yer neighborhood cheapo bins and see how vividly it evokes all those shimmering, receding memories you've repressed about gettin' to feel up the girl with the feathered hair and b-cup bra who used to draw the Eye Of Horus around her eye in black liquid eyeliner and make you listen to Siouxsie & The Banshees. Oh, to be young and carefree again....


-Pepsi Sheen missed the Beatles

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