Summer is officially here and what says HEAT better than Alex Chilton’s Like Flies on Sherbert?!?

ROTM Club Members will be getting a copy of Chilton’s debut solo album, reissued on limited, turquoise vinyl by the good folks at Sundazed.

The album was originally released in fall 1979 in a batch of 500 copies by Peabody Records, a label run by Memphis singer and guitarist Sid Selvidge.

Many of you will know Alex Chilton from the legendary rock groups, Big Star and The Box Tops.

The photograph used for the cover of the album (as well as pics of Alex above) was taken by noted American photographer William Eggleston, who had previously provided the cover for Big Star’s second album Radio City.

Chilton later said that when the recording sessions began for the album, he began to think, “‘Man these guys don’t know the songs…this must sound terrible’. But when I went in the control room and heard what we’d been doing, it was just incredible sounding. Getting involved with Dickinson opened up a new world for me. Before that I’d been into careful layerings of guitars and voices and harmonies and things like that, and Dickinson showed me how to go into the studio and just create a wild mess and make it sound really crazy and anarchic. That was a growth for me.

Dickinson affirmed that Chilton consciously wanted the musicianship to be sloppy. He clarified that he plays guitar on the album despite not being technically proficient: “A lot of the guitar on Sherbert is me. Alex said, ‘You still play like you’re 14 years old.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I play bad.’ That’s what he wanted.”

Years later, for Robert Gordon’s book on the Memphis music scene, It Came from Memphis, Chilton stated, “My life was on the skids, and Like Flies on Sherbert was a summation of that period. I like that record a lot. It’s crazy but it’s a positive statement about a period in my life that wasn’t positive.”

Rolling Stone’s Ken Tucker described the album as “a small masterpiece of crudity and split-second invention”, adding that “Chilton achieves his most startling, moving effects at precisely those moments when he seems least in control.” Critic Robert Christgau stated that “this long-time advertisement for self-abuse doesn’t prove craziness is universal. Just makes you forget that things most certainly wouldn’t be more fun if it was.”

Alex Chilton said of the record…

“It was a speculative project. No record label had given us any money to do the thing up front…I just thought I needed to make a record.

When I conceived of doing the record, I thought maybe Jim and I, and maybe one or two other people, would record. When I turned up for the session, Jim had his whole band there, like Lee Baker and Mike Ladd on guitars and me on guitar, too. Ross Johnson was on drums, there was a bass player and a few other people. I thought, Hmm, this isn’t what I had in mind, but I didn’t say anything. I just thought we should try it and see how it goes…I was out there playing it, I wasn’t in the control room listening to it, so I thought, Man, that must sound terrible. But when I went in and heard what we had done, it was just incredible-sounding. I like that album a lot still… Most of it was recorded in three nights. “Hey! Little Child” was written and recorded right before the final album mix-down. I re-recorded “Girl After Girl” then too, because I didn’t feel I had a sufficient take of it from before.”