Tuesday, October 23, 2018

"Beat's So Lonely" by Charlie Sexton

Song#:  2566
Date:  12/14/1985
Debut:  93
Peak:  17
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  How many 10-year-olds do you know that played guitar in a renown blues band? Most likely none, but Charlie Sexton (aka then as Little Charlie) was one. Given a guitar as a kid by famous blues guitarist Jimmie Vaughan, Sexton took to it quickly and learned from Vaughan and others. Even before he was a teenager he was already playing in bands and gaining the reputation of being a guitar prodigy. At 13, he got invited to tour with Joe Ely when Ely's guitarist broke his hand. People took notice and word spread of the wunderkind. Sexton formed his own band and made a name for himself around Austin, Texas, playing blues music with his own twists. Soon the record labels started coming around, but blues records have a limited audience and were not what major label labels were seeking. Yet Sexton had higher aspirations and it seemed that RCA was willing to try and turn the teen guitarist into a rock star. It certainly helped that Sexton was a handsome lad in a Matt Dillon kind of way. RCA paired him with producer Keith Forsey (Billy Idol, Simple Minds) and the two wrote a few songs and began recording a debut album. Sexton was just 16 at the time. The LP would be titled Pictures for Pleasure and this first single would help introduce Sexton to the masses. The song's MTV video was a hit and it helped propel the new wave/rock track into the Pop Top 10. It also made it to #17 at Rock. With the album getting to #20, Sexton was on his way. Unfortunately, follow-up singles failed to chart and then his self-titled second album in 1989 couldn't attract any attention. Sexton's rock star days were quickly done. However, his career as a guitarist was still in full swing. Sexton would be an in-demand session/tour player for many big time artists and would even work with Bob Dylan for many years. He would record a few more well-received albums over the years both on his own and with bands such as Arc Angel.

ReduxReview:  Whenever I hear this, I still can't get over the fact Sexton was 16 when he recorded it. Both the song and Sexton's Bowie-meets-Bryan Ferry vocals sound like they were by someone at least a decade older. I had heard the hubbub about Sexton being a blues guitar wizard, so when this song came out I was a bit confused. Its new wave rock sound had nary a trace of the blues. I liked the song and just happened to find the album at the local used record store. It took me a while to warm up to the LP, but I ended up liking it very much. I still listen to it once in a while. Critics didn't care for it all that much, but I think they were just miffed/confused about a blues prodigy coming out with a big commercial album. Sexton took a lot of flack for the style of his debut. Many thought he sold out or was pushed into doing this by the label, but at the time Sexton was adamant that this was the album he wanted to make. Whatever folks thought, Sexton got this hit out of it and although not directly in the spotlight, he's had a pretty terrific career since.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Sexton would also take the occasional spin in the producer's chair. In 2001, Sexton co-produced Essence, the highly anticipated sixth album by roots rock star Lucinda Williams. Essence was Williams' follow-up to her Grammy-winning breakthrough Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, an album that Sexton performed on. A track from Essence, "Get Right with God," would earn Williams a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. Sexton would also produce Edie Brickell's second solo album, 2003's Volcano.


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