Radio City – Big Star

I was struggling a bit after Adam left The Jasmine Minks. He was the focal point live and a great songwriter. We were a good team when we wrote together. Adam wrote the words for some of our best songs: Cold Heart, Ghost of a Young Man and Where The Traffic Goes and all these were easy for me to put to music. The sum of our writing produced something very special. So without him, I was going to have to put more time into writing if we were to carry on. Wattie had come along to play guitar and give us a kick up the arse instead of the other option – calling it a day with music altogether. So I had encouragement from Wattie to get us back on the map. Wattie got us a Radio 1 Janice Long session and he got us gigs around the country and in France. He spurred me on, but, paradoxically, instead of trying to bounce back by expanding my writing, I simplified my writing even further, using simple chord structures – and nearly all the songs had verse, chorus, verse, chorus, middle 8, verse, chorus. Simple, guitar pop.

Around then Alan McGee gave me a C60 cassette with “Alex Chilton” written on it and told me I HAD to listen to it. I knew the name linked to The Cramps but didn’t know much else about him. The songs on the cassette formed an album of great guitar pop with some slower Velvet Underground influenced tunes and even a cover of Femme Fatale. I now know that it was Big Star’s, initially ditched, third album. And what a fucking album! I remember waking up one morning after Tom and Martin had been staying over (we often rehearsed then went for a few beers then listened to music at my house into the early hours.) Anyway, this particular morning we were all just waking up and talking about how our new songs were coming along. I had been listening to this cassette for a few weeks and played it to Tom and Martin then. Martin, in particular was keen. He thought it seemed a bit like what were trying to do. The album became a constant in my life and was always on around the time I was writing the songs for Another Age, our third album. I have chosen Blue Moon to accompany this testimonial but I could just as easily have chosen Holocaust, Thank You Friends, Jesus Christ, Stroke It Noel, Kizza Me. Aw shit, anything from that amazing album would have been fine by me…

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