I’m not going to pretend to be cool, professional or objective – this album is simply stunning. And for all the right reasons. If you could find a single place where all the elements on how to write and execute the quintessential “power pop”, by textbook definition, song/songs – this is the album. And when you see the names of the players involved, it’s no surprise, although the fact that these tracks (save for a few) never saw the light of day could be considered a crime against musical humanity… Nonetheless, this compilation of songs recorded during 1975 and 1976 at Ardent Studios in Memphis will definitely leave you with a tear of joy at how good they are.
So who are the culprits? The late, great Tommy Hoehn for starters, who released quite a few things (amongst them, two wonderful albums with Mr. Van Duren); Jon Tiven, the all-around talent who produces, writes as a journalist, flails a mean guitar and has seen every scene there is and then there is Chris Bell and Alex Chilton. I don’t think I really need to explain who they were. But, aiding and abetting these fine gentlemen in the studio were (amongst many) legend Jim Dickinson, musician/writer/television scorer Rick Clark and Sparks’ Hilly Michaels (remember “Calling All Girls”?). This is no lightweight ensemble by any stretch of the imagination. So with all that to digest, about the songs…
From the opening moments of “Girl”, my immediate feeling was “a great lost Big Star track”, which is easy to say and wouldn’t be untoward. Listen to the guitar interplay and the tastefully weaved patterns in between the verses. And those vocals are chill-inducing; the harmonies of who I presume would be Chris Bell singing slightly behind Tommy Hoehn make you ache. “Take Me Home And Make Me Like It” (one of the Alex Chilton tracks from the Tiven-produced Bach’s Bottom) is rockin’, funny, sly and witty; “Love You Tonight” (also known as “Saturday’s Gone”) is sublime as it’s dynamic, filled with peaks and valleys and “Every Time I Close My Eyes” (written by Jon Tiven) has to be THE standout of all the tracks – 1:46 of unadulterated perfection. And that’s not an exaggeration.
The CD contains 15 tracks, more than worth the price of admission; there are some alternate versions and all as intriguing as the “originals”; 15 songs of thought, craft, heart and melody. It’s easy to ruminate, as is often the case, on “what could have been” had Prix been signed and released these magnificent songs on an album when they were ready for release in 1976. That they didn’t and that only a few singles trickled out, thanks to the visionaries of Ork, well, for that we can be grateful. And for the fact that at least now, we do get to hear these and can marvel at what great songwriters and musicians can do, courtesy of the fine folks at HoZac. Prix has finally made history with Historix.
ESSENTIAL LISTENING – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Historix is available now