Alex Chilton's 'ravishing' pre-Big Star solo album '1970' reissued

chilton70-copy.jpg

David Fricke of Rolling Stone checks in today with a short review of the deluxe re-issue of Alex Chilton's lost 1970 solo recordings, "Free Again: The 1970 Sessions."

In 1969, even before the end of his Top 40 band the Box Tops, singer
Alex Chilton started making his first solo album. In 1970, he abandoned
it to co-found Big Star, the Memphis version of the Beatles. Free Again
finds Chilton, not yet 20, in fast bloom. The title track, "The EMI
Song (Smile for Me)" and "Every Day as We Grow Closer" are ravishing,
original amalgams of the Beach Boys, the British Invasion and country soul.

The sessions for this material took place at Memphis' Ardent Studios while Chilton was between The Box Tops and Big Star, and at a professional and personal crossroads, as explained on the Ardent website:

For the past year, Chilton had been strapped in a creative,
professional, and personal straitjacket. He was the lead singer of a
million-selling band, The Box Tops, but felt like little more than a
puppet of the group's producers. In the era of free love, he'd been
pressured into a shotgun marriage and fatherhood. And he'd ultimately
come to see himself as the pawn of an unscrupulous business machine,
sent to grind it out on the road in a series of silly lip-synched TV
performances and one-night stands while someone else cashed his checks.
As he entered the studio that summer to make his first solo recordings,
the man who would come to define the very spirit of musical independence
was still bound in chains. At a time where liberation and
self-expression were rallying cries, Alex Chilton was about to break
free.


PICTURED: Alex Chilton is shown in a 1970 promotional photo from Ardent Records. (By Michael O'Brien)

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