Alex Chilton | Free Again: The ''1970'' Sessions

Omnivore (2011)
By ZETH LUNDY  |  January 10, 2012
2.5 2.5 Stars

Alex Chilton

Post–Box Tops and pre-Big Star, Alex Chilton was an 18-year-old Memphis boy on his way to his dual identity: former #1 pop hitmaker, perpetual underground hero. He recorded songs for a solo disc at Memphis's Ardent Studios in 1969, which didn't surface until the '90s (despite the Beach Boys' attempt to release them on their Brother label). Those tracks are re-released here, along with some extras, and mostly betray a songwriter still finding his own voice. Chilton resurrects the gruff dude of "The Letter" in "Free Again" and "Something Deep Inside," but here it's less wise-beyond-its-years and more parodic. The tough-guy Bolan blooze of "All I Really Want Is Money" doesn't work as well; Chilton would be better off as the Patron Saint of the Less Confident. The truly good bits are oddball fare and covers. The country smirk of "I Wish I Could Meet Elvis" and the sloppy-riff reinvention of "Sugar Sugar" are great fun, whereas the meaty tromp through "Jumpin' Jack Flash" is the only non-Stones version necessary. "All We Ever Got from Them Was Pain," one of the few previously unreleased tracks, approaches the quietly profound territory of Big Star's greatest tracks.
  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, Memphis, review,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
    Bill Withers has always been the down-to-earth, odd-man-out of the '70s soul brothers: he's the one who came bearing a lunch box on the cover of his relaxed 1971 debut, Just as I Am .
  •   R.E.M. | DOCUMENT [25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION]  |  September 19, 2012
    Fans of R.E.M. enjoy arguing over which album was the band's true shark-jump, but 1987's Document was inarguably the end of a groundbreaking era.
  •   RICHARD HAWLEY | STANDING AT THE SKY'S EDGE  |  September 04, 2012
    Richard Hawley's seventh studio album opens with "She Brings the Sunlight," a clouds-parting, hippy-dippy drone explosion that plays like "Tomorrow Never Knows" caught in the echo of a football stadium.
  •   BOB MOULD | SILVER AGE  |  August 28, 2012
    Now that he's getting love as a godfather figure from both sides of the indie/mainstream divide (see No Age and Foo Fighters, for starters), Bob Mould is again playing like he has something to prove — or at least an iconography to maintain.
  •   RY COODER | ELECTION SPECIAL  |  August 14, 2012
    Ry Cooder's spur-of-the-moment (or is it heat-of-the-moment?) political album opens like any good political album should, with a rollicking blues song told from the point of view of Mitt Romney's dog.

 See all articles by: ZETH LUNDY