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Free Again: The 1970 Sessions CD

4.6 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Audio CD, CD, January 10, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

2012 release, a collection of 1970 solo recordings from the former Box Tops/future Big Star leader. Alex Chilton 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.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 10, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Omnivore Recordings, LLC
  • ASIN: B006DICVU0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,239 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This extended re-release of "1970" has 3 "new" songs and 5 alternate versions of songs from the original release. "All We Ever Got from you is Pain" is an outstanding and surprising addition. With its great melody and beautiful Simon and Grafunkel harmonies from Chilton and Terry Manning, it is easily one of the best songs on the collection.

"It Isn't Always that Easy" is an acoustic song that stylewise easily could have been an outtake from Big Star's "#1 Record", Which is not particularly surprising since all those recordings were made in the period between his Boxtops time and the formation of Big Star, hence the title "1970."

"If You Would Marry Me" is obviously a demo, showing Chilton is at his more poppy side accompanied by just a piano.

The 5 alternate versions are not markedly different, and I believe you have to know the earlier versions very well, to notice differences.

Comments to the earlier 1996 version:

After the dissolution of the Box Top in 1969 Alex Chilton began to record music for his first solo album. This happened over a longer period during of 1970. Like the early Big Star the album is recorded in John Fry's Ardent Studios, and Chilton are musically supported by Ardent acquaintances such as as producer and mulitiinstrumentalist Terry Manning and drummer Richard Rosebrough.

Logically the music places itself somewhere between the soul-pop sound of the Box Tops and the more progressive power-pop-oriented sound of Big Star. Unfortunately when the album was finished and ready for release Chilton failed to find a satisfactory agreement with a record company, and he soon became heavily involved in his new band Big Star, so the recordings were shelved and soon forgotten.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Listening to Free Again, one has to be constantly reminded that these recordings are more than 40 years old. The songs are as fresh and vibrant today as they were when they were recorded.

Anyone familiar with Alex Chilton understands why, as the Replacements song goes, children by the millions scream for Alex Chilton. Or at least they should. Much like Gram Parsons, Chilton's music is arguably more influential than it was commercially successful. It is easy to visualize a young Tom Petty, Paul Westerberg, or Jeff Tweedy listening to Chilton and trying to figure out chords and lyrics.

Every song on the album is good, but I particulary like Free Again, The EMI Song (Smile for Me) and The Happy Song. I'm really thankful the producers brought out this gem to inspire future musicians.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Great record from Alex Chilton. Such cool songs. Really has that feel of the first two Big Star records Big Star/#1 Record. Just discovered this album and it rocks all the way through. Such a great songwriter and singer. Tuneful and greasy. The attitude on the cover of "Sugar Sugar" brings a smile as it rocks, stumbles and falls apart.

If you like Big Star you'll love this record. Just a great listen all the way through.
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Format: Audio CD
If you are a fan of Big Star and/or The Box Tops and are curious to hear some of Alex Chilton's solo work, this is the place to start.

How did the gravelly voiced soulful teenager with The Box Tops become Big Star's young adult balladeer with a pure (if occasionally warbly) tenor? "1970" provides the answer, and it's a wonderful collection that shows Chilton the songwriter in bloom. While none of the songs here are quite as good as Chilton's contributions to Big Star's "#1 Record", the album has a fantastic, understated production thanks to collaborators Terry Manning (producer/multiple instruments/harmony singing), Richard Rosebrough (drums), and Jeff Newman (pedal steel guitar).

You can hear Chilton groping to find his voice, both as a singer and as a songwriter. He veers between rough hewn cynicism ("All I Really Want is Money") and sweet voiced romanticism ("Every Day as We Grow Closer", which strongly presages "Give Me Another Chance" from "#1 Record").

Aside from the gorgeous sound of "1970", the thing that makes this collection so compelling is that Chilton is entirely free of the strictures of a group. Writers often assert that Big Star was formed by Alex Chilton, but in fact the group was already in place when Chilton was invited to join by founder/leader Chris Bell. Chilton certainly hit his stride as a songwriter alongside Bell and company, but he had to put his boogie shoes in the closet for a couple of years while he conformed to the Big Star template of British style pop-rock and folk-tinged material.
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Format: Audio CD
There is an errant Amazon listing for the import version - showing 22 tracks. This is old and incorrect information. The import carries the same 20 tracks as the US version. Those two tracks will be included on a future release. In addition, there is no digital download for the LP. That info is incorrect, as well.
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