AS GUITAR heroes go, there's a lot to be said for Charlie Sexton. In addition to being something of a child prodigy -- he played lead guitar for Joe Ely while still in junior high school -- Sexton is as at home with Ely's country rock as he is with the new wave moans and growls that ornament his solo in "Beat's So Lonely," the first single from his solo debut, "Pictures for Pleasure."
Nonetheless, guitar heroism without the springboard of a great song is rather like icing without the cake, which is why so much of Sexton's album falls flat despite slick, savvy production by Keith Forsey (Billy Idol, Psychedelic Furs).
Part of the problem is Sexton's singing. It may be coincidence that the guitarist sounds startlingly similar to David Bowie, but his tendency to ape Bowie's melodramatic delivery is no accident. Neither is it a particularly bright idea, as Sexton has neither Bowie's interpretive insight nor material strong enough to support such grandstanding. In the end, "Pictures for Pleasure" is just another calculated come-on. Teen-pop at its most crassly commercial. -- J.D. Considine.
CHARLIE SEXTON -- "Pictures for Pleasure" (MCA- 5629-A); appearing Sunday at the 9:30 Club.