Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Alex Chilton: 1970 (Ardent 1996)

(As published in B-Side)

If the Velvet Underground's VU and Another View were Basement Tapes for the '80s, then this Alex Chilton vault job is a VU (or another Another View) for the '90s. Chilton cut this album after leaving the Box Tops and right before launching Big Star and even considered releasing it on the Beach Boys' Brother Records but chose not to so as not to compete with Big Star (i.e., himself). Not that 1970 will have folks wishing Big Star had never happened or anything, but the undeniably alive and eclectic nature of these thirteen selections serves far more than a documentary function. (But it does that, too: "I Can Dig It," for instance, features a Chilton vocal that's the missing link between his Box Tops growl and his Big Star croon.) From the loping blues of "Come On, Honey" that kicks the disc off to the proto-heavy metal "Sugar Sugar/I Got the Feelin'' medley that closes it, the Alex Chilton of 1970 reveals himself to have been every bit as quirky as he eventually would turn out to be on High Priest and A Man Called Destruction twenty years later. Throw in a no-frills "Jumpin' Jack Flash," a goofy "I Wish I Could Meet Elvis," and five pretty love and friendship songs, and you have one cool rockin' jukebox of an artifact.

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