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.
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