Saturday, February 06, 2016


I've been reading Holly George-Warren's recent Alex Chilton bio and finding it really good. It's got me all excited about Memphis music history again, and It Came From Memphis is now travelling alongside A Man Called Destruction for side references and rereads. And, of course, I'm digging the Big Star records back out... haven't put #1 Record back on yet, but Radio City is blowing my mind more than ever, and I literally cried while listening to "Blue Moon" & "Dream Lover" a couple nights ago. I'm also eager to get to his pre-punk/post-punk/post-irony 70s and 80s stuff which I'm not as familiar with, other than Flies On Sherbert; haven't heard his Ork stuff yet, or Feudalist Tarts, for example. Problem is, even though I'm long past the Box Tops section of the book, I'm still listening to their tunes over and over, much more than even Big Star. I always thought (assumed?) Chilton was dismissive of them; after reading the book, I think he was proud of the music but dismissive of being "a toy or a puppet on a string" for the pop market; either way, I had written them off as a teenybopper pop band, but George-Warren's descriptions of their music, and the American Sound Studios milieu that produced it, sent me straight to Spotify, especially after she quotes a Jim Dickinson endorsement of the second Box Tops album Cry Like A Baby (1968): "Memphis pop production at its best, on par with the great Dusty In Memphis, recorded by the same cast of characters in the same period. Those two records were as good as it gets." I've now spent a week listening to The Best of the Box Tops: Soul Deep, over and over, and as Bob Christgau is quoted in the book, the "production can only be described as exquisite." Also, Chilton is ridiculously good as the gruff 16-year-old soul man. So many hooks, such great singing and playing. I made a couple Spotify playlists, the first one of what I think are the very best songs (I put "The Letter" last because you already know it but of course it should be on there anyway because it's fantastic), and the second one of deeper cuts that were singled out in the book. 

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