Chilton, Alex – “Free Again: The 1970 Sessions” – [Omnivore Recordings]

Art Crimes   2/12/2013   12-inch, B Library

Chilton, Alex – “Free Again: The 1970 Sessions” – [Omnivore Recordings]

Alex Chilton’s first solo LP was briefly released in 1996 on Ardent and Revola but it was actually recorded in 1969-1970 at the end of his Box Tops career and the formation of Big Star. This newly assembled LP uses some different mixes and adds one track not included on the Ardent version. Chilton had burned out on the Box Tops after tiring of being used only as the lead vocalist but not as a writer. His early songs got recorded for this album while he was still in the Box Tops but his own songs weren’t so hit conscious as the Box Top’s assembly-line material had been. The styles run the range from Beatlish to Nuggets-style garage, Southern white trash R and B, and onwards to introspective melancholia. There’s a distinct country thread here with pedal steel and a bit of banjo. Viewed from the remoteness of 2013, it’s not far from the R and B infused version of country that we associate with some of Solomon Burke’s work and other soul artists who dabbled in country arrangements. Vocally, Chilton can do it all, but there’s a certain exaggeration to the rockier numbers that point towards the sloppy cover songs lurking ahead in his later career. It was probably best that this was not released back in 1970 as heads would have been scratched over his inability to commit to a specific approach. ((( crimes )))


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