Great Extended Version of "1970",
This review is from: Free Again:The 1970 Sessions (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.
Although several of the tracks have since appeared on various compilations, the album was first released in 1996 in its entirety.
The album opens with three bluesy numbers, which do not differ substantially from the Box Top sound, and none of them are really interesting. Hereafter things begin to change for the much better. "Free Again", known from "Bach's Bottom", is here in an early countryinfluenced version and vocally Chilton begins to sound more like we know him from Big Star.
"Something Deep Inside Of Me" is a nice pop number, sung with soulful vocals by Chilton - a recording that could very well go to have Box Tops.
The ironic "All I really Want is Money, would hardly have found its way into a Box Top album, though Alex singing with his well-known early "soul" vocals.
"I Wish I Could Meet Elvis" is a fun mix of rock and country, and certainly one of the album's best tracks. Chilton here sounds very much as we know him from Big Star. "The Happy Song" is another fine Chilton number which was actually also recorded by the Box Top and released on the group's last album "Dimensions" - a cute catchy melody.
The album's absolute highlight is the ballad "Every Day As We Grow Closer". Very beautiful melody, sensitive Chilton sung with fine vocal harmonies - a number that could easily go as Big Star, but without the ringing guitars that characterize the group.
"The EMI Song" is another fine ballad, though not quite on par with the previous.
The album finishes with two cover numbers. First "Jumping Jack Flash", given in a raw and unpolished version that could easily remind you on the musical approach of "Bach's Bottom". This is even more obvious on "Sugar Sugar", which is set down in pace, and given a heavy and punky treatment. The vocals are fairly loose, but definitely entertaining - interesting that already in 1970 music that almost only can be described as punk was being recorded.
Although the album as a whole probably comes out somewhat uneven, there is much to go for, and for fans of Big Star and Chilton this is obviuosly a must.