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Aural Pleasure Review

Alex Chilton: Free Again: The "1970" Sessions

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In 1970, Alex Chilton was about to maneuver a truly remarkable rock 'n' roll reinvention: from voice of blue-eyed soul act the Box Tops to mastermind of pop-rock pioneers Big Star. Free Again: The "1970" Sessions captures Chilton at this crossroad: a fledgling artist wanting desperately to be known as more than the guy who sang "The Letter" but not quite sure how. This search is the biggest draw of Free Again, its 20 tracks showcasing the AM-gold soul of his past, the pristine Brit-pop of his future, and even some of the fuck-all ruckus of his later solo work, as Chilton works to find his course. Beyond the variance of styles, Free Again also confirms Chilton, even in his first major outing as a songwriter, as an immense talent. His careful arrangement on "Every Day As We Grow Closer/Funky National" elevates a simple tune to a baroque pop gem, while the lovely "EMI Song (Smile For Me)" simply ranks as one of the finest tracks he'd ever pen. Certainly Free Again is most necessary as an historical puzzle piece, wonderfully capturing the flowering of an incredible talent. But when that talent happens to be Alex Chilton, it makes this release damn near essential.

★★★★ 1/2 (out of 5 stars)

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