Charlie Sexton

Pictures for Pleasure

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Like many teenagers, Charlie Sexton lusted after rock stardom -- the only difference was, he had a chance to pursue his dream. Sexton certainly looked like the part, with his high cheek bones and pompadour, but since he was living in the '80s instead of the '50s he worshipped, his producers decided to push him toward new wave for his debut album, Pictures for Pleasure. The teenaged guitarist had been bashing out blues and roots-rock around his native Austin, Texas, but the market for that music was limited -- hence the decision to layer the record with drum machines and synthesizers. Through sheer dumb luck, they came up with a classic MTV hit with the moody "Beat's So Lonely," where Sexton comes on like James Dean in Duran Duran clothing, crooning with Bryan Ferry's voice. There's nothing nearly as good on the remainder of Pictures for Pleasure, not only because the material is uneven, but because none of the other material benefits with the new wave treatment. That said, it's still a more interesting and entertaining record than many of Sexton's straitlaced latter-day blues efforts, where he often sounds just a bit too respectful.

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