Thursday, November 12, 2015

Charlie Sexton - Pictures For Pleasure

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Pictures For Pleasure, the debut album from Texas singer/songwriter/guitarist Charlie Sexton. Recorded when he was just sixteen years old and already an accomplished guitar player, this 1985 release hit number 26 in Australia and number 15 on the US Billboard Album chart (with a thirty-four week total

Sexton provided bass, guitar, piano, keyboards, drum programming and vocals. Additional guitars were provided by Steve Schiff and Richie Zito. Arthur Barrow also provided some bass and keyboards. The backing vocalists are the Merchant Bankers.

Side one opens with "Impressed", the album's second single. This mid-tempo tune opens with a list of famous couples throughout time and then immediately dismisses them all in comparison to the narrator's own love relationship.

Next up is "Beat's So Lonely", the high-octane debut single which peaked at number 24 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart in 1985 and number 17 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1986. I was an instant fan of this track from the very first times I heard it back in the 80's. The main guitar riff really drives it while Sexton's vocals carry a raw teenaged angst. My college radio station played it quite often, and it would occasionally make appearances at parties around the RIT campus as well. The song continued to be popular for the next year or so and ended up in the background of a scene in the 1987 John Hughes' movie Some Kind of Wonderful; however, it was not included on the soundtrack.

The B-side to the second single was "Restless". It opens with a complex programmed drum solo that sets up the tune's tense, dramatic theme.

"Hold Me", released as the third single, has a sound that is very inspired by ballads from the early days of rock and roll in the late 1950's. Yet, Sexton's guitar work gives it an 80's flourish to appeal to the youth market of the time.

Side two begins with the up-tempo title track "Pictures For Pleasure". It tells of a guy who loves a girl from afar, with only images of her to keep him company.

"Tell Me" has a rocking alternative dance beat to it.

"Attractions", the B-side to the lead single, continues with that brooding kind of beat.

The lyrics of "You Don't Belong Here" reflect on a woman passing judgement on someone based upon how he looks and dresses, saying he does not fit in with the others.

The album closes with "Space", a song about a couple coming to the realization that they each need something different out of the relationship.

I did not own Pictures For Pleasure back in the day, but I picked up the album digitally a few years back. It is one that has grown on me more with repeated listens. Many compare Sexton's early style to that of David Bowie's, and I can easily see it with his vocal delivery here.

1 comment:

DJ Caterina said...

Thanks for the review. Some of my favorite songs are from this album! My only mild complaint about Charlie Sexton is that he never plays these songs live. Ever.