Quintessential Albums :: Pictures For Pleasure :: Charlie Sexton
A Little History:
Pictures for Pleasure, released in 1985, is the first studio album released by singer/guitarist Charlie Sexton. The album was the first solo effort by the then 16-year-old musician who had already secured a reputation as a skilled guitarist.
Pictures for Pleasure can best be described as a combination between Sexton’s blues rock roots and the more commercially viable (at the time) new wave genre. The album produced the Billboard Hot 100 # 17 hit Beat’s So Lonely.
Before its release, the teenaged guitarist had been bashing out blues and roots-rock around his native Austin, Texas, but the market for that music was limited — hence the decision to layer the record with drum machines and synthesizers, and go for a more “new wave” sensibility.
The album was recorded in Los Angeles, California. The album was produced by Keith Forsey, who also produced Billy Idol’s biggest 80’s hit albums.
Charlie Sexton’s mother was 16 years old when she gave birth to him in San Antonio, Texas. When he was four, he and his mother moved to Austin, where clubs such as the Armadillo World Headquarters, Soap Creek Saloon, and more notably the Split Rail and Antone’s Blues Club later exposed him to popular music.
After a brief period living outside Austin with his mother, Sexton moved back to Austin at the age of 12.
By the early 1980’s, while Charlie and his brother Will Sexton were still young boys, they were both taught how to play guitar by the local Austin legend W. C. Clark, known as the “Godfather of Austin Blues”. With the help of Joe Ely and other local musicians such as Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Sexton developed his talents as a musician.
My best friend and I discovered Charlie Sexton’s album in the bins at one of our favorite record stores of the past, Music Market. We had never heard of him before, but in a very “judging a book by its cover“, or in this case album sleeve, we were taken in by how beautiful Mr. Sexton was, and decided to take a chance and buy it. Luckily, the chance was worth it, as it would soon become one of our favorite albums.
I would later notice Beats So Lonely in the film Some Kind of Wonderful, and get gleefully happy to hear it, thinking “our Charlie” was featured in the movie. I couldn’t help it really, it felt like he was our discovery.
My immediate favorite song remains my favorite off the album, the song Impressed, that is overflowing with literary and cinematic “coupling” references. It remains one of my favorite love songs, the sentiment that the kind of love the singer is crooning about is better than any fictional/famous love story always resonated with me, because don’t we all want that, a real love that puts all the other loves of the past, real and imagined, to shame?
I still listen to this album, and obsess over certain songs on it. I think I always will, which, to me, makes it “quintessential“.
Now I just need to a) get a copy of this on vinyl (again), and b) seek out some of Charlie’s more recent music.
Did you happen to notice him in last year’s film, Boyhood?
My Top 5 Favorite Songs:
“I am not impressed,
I love you the best.”
2. Beats So Lonely
“Come on, baby,
you know there’s something missing,
don’t find nothing,
no more coincidences.
look in these eyes and you will see,
the things will happen,
but only if they’re meant to be.”
“Always someone out there that is calling my name.”
4. Hold Me
darlin’ won’t you hold me,
never let me go.”
5. You Don’t Belong Here
“You don’t belong here,
you know it’s true.
Oh, you look all wrong here,
don’t know how to act or do.
But, you know sometimes I think,
I don’t belong here, too.”