Alex Chilton

High Priest/Feudalist Tarts/No Sex

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Alex Chilton's three significant releases for the now-defunct indie label Big Time Records -- High Priest, Feudalist Tarts, and No Sex -- are combined on one cost-efficient CD. 1985's Feudalist Tarts was a six-song EP that represented Chilton's return to the recording studio after a six-year layoff from music; while his vocals sound a bit tentative in spots and the session is divided half-and-half between scruffy originals and vintage soul covers, Chilton's performance is generally game (especially his guitar playing), and the horn-driven arrangements show the strong influence of the musical heritage of his adopted home town, New Orleans. 1987's High Priest found Chilton in stronger form as a performer, with his vocals boasting a renewed confidence, but the 12-song set only featured four Chilton originals, a disturbing development from one of American pop's most interesting songwriters. Still, the album is generally a lot of fun, and Chilton cuts a fine groove on R&B classics like "Take It Off" and "Make a Little Love." Finally, the No Sex single featured two -- yes, two! -- strong original numbers from Chilton, "No Sex" (about the after-effects of the AIDS epidemic) and "Underclass" (about the state of his career). The material on these three records has been released on CD in a number of forms, but this disc is certainly the best and most logical presentation of this music, and it's worth searching out.

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