Alex Chilton - Electricity By Candlelight : NYC 2/13/1997
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When Alex Chilton was playing a two-set gig at N.Y.C.'s Knitting Factory on a February night in 1997, the power unexpectedly went out after the first set and most of the crowd went home. Some stragglers hung around in the darkness, bummed to only get a partial show and taking their time in exiting. Before too long, Chilton re-emerged with a borrowed acoustic guitar to play a few songs for the remaining crowd, with an off-the-cuff, unamplified performance to make up for the evening being cut short, and one that longtime fan Jeff Vargon captured on a hand-held cassette recorder. All of this brings us to the 2013 release of Electricity by Candlelight, the proper release of the audio from that incredibly intimate, one-of-a-kind set. The sound quality is bootleg at best, even in professionally mastered form. Were this a run-of-the-mill set, the sound alone would push this release into the "completists only" category, as vocals are muddy and sometimes drowned out by the giggling and caterwauling of the audience. There's something transcendent about this particular document, however, as one of rock's more celebrated songwriters plays through a set completely free of his own songs, opting to roll through standards like "Girl from Ipanema," country singalongs, and covers of personal favourites by Joni Mitchell and Johnny Cash.