Alex Chilton

A Fan’s Notes: Alex Chilton, “Free Again: The 1970 Sessions” (Win the Exclusive Vinyl Bundle)

In 2010, three music industry veterans banded together to form Omnivore Recordings. The three, Cheryl Pawelski, Greg Allen, and Brad Rosenberger, had decades of experience between them, and some very impressive credentials to show for their careers. Their goal for the new label was to produce records that they themselves would like to own.

Omnivore got off to an auspicious start, to say the least. Their first release, for Record Store Day 2011, was the Test Pressing Edition of Big Star Third. The very limited edition sold out quickly, but fear not. The set was recently released again, this time on clear vinyl as opposed to the black vinyl of the Record Store Day release.

Since that time Omnivore has released more great music from the Motels, Leon Russell, and Richard Thompson, among others. Today the label returns to the Big Star family for its latest release, Alex Chilton, Free Again: The “1970 Sessions”. One lucky Popdose reader is going to win a copy of the exclusive LP & 7″ vinyl bundle. Read on to find out how to win.

By the end of 1969 Alex Chilton was only 18 years-old, but he had had enough. As the lead singer of the Box Tops he had been part of several pop hits including “The Letter,” “Cry Like A Baby,” and “Soul Deep,” but he felt like he was in creative jail. He was a puppet of the band’s producers, and a pawn in the dirty business of music.

In the summer of 1970, Chilton entered Ardent Studios in Memphis to work on his first solo recordings. He was still in chains at that point, but the music that he would record that summer would finally set him free. Free Again catches Chilton at that pivotal moment between the Box Tops and Big Star and it serves as a perfect bridge between those two bands. Gone are the pop flourishes of the Box Tops. What remains is the link between Memphis soul, Americana, and rock and roll. It’s the road to Big Star and beyond.

The 12-track vinyl album includes 11 songs written by Chilton, or co-written with producer Terry Manning. Standouts are the title track which directly addresses his frustration with the Box Tops, “The EMI Song,” which was inspired by Chilton’s visit to Abbey Road Studios, and the wistful “All We Ever Got From Them Is Pain.” The latter is also featured on the 7″ single included in the bundle. The album’s one cover is an undeniably funky take on the Stones “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”

I have been an Alex Chilton fan since the Box Tops days, and I was one of the many people who mourned his premature death in 2010. Now, just when we feared that we would hear no more from Alex, comes this very welcome release. Free Again is historically significant music that you can dance to.

To win a copy of the bundle, simply answer the question below. Any fan will know it instantly, and for everyone else, well, all of knowledge is on the interweb if you know where to look.

In the late ’70s and into the ’80s, Alex produced and toured with a band called the Panther Burns. What is the name of the leader of that band?

Please send your answer to ken with the words ‘Chilton Contest’ in the subject line, and the name I’m looking for in the body. The deadline for entries is Friday, January 13, at 5:00 p.m. eastern time. With all apologies to readers from other lands, this contest is open only to readers with a valid US mailing address.

By the way, if you are a fan of the band Jellyfish, it would be a good idea to watch this space next Tuesday.